Ever since Kate Middleton and Prince William embarked on their journey as parents, it’s become a tradition of sorts for the duchess to take official photographs of the couple’s kids. As a result, then, royal-watchers and fans of the family alike have been treated to candid snaps of Prince George, Prince Louis and Princess Charlotte – most notably on their respective birthdays. And it appeared to be business as usual, too, when Charlotte was about to turn four in May 2019. On that occasion, you see, Kate revealed the result of her latest photo shoot on social media – and the images she captured are undeniably adorable.
More specifically, though, Kensington Palace tweeted out the pictures – along with a message to the public. “The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are very pleased to share three new photographs of Princess Charlotte ahead of her fourth birthday tomorrow,” the official account explained. “The photographs were taken in April by the duchess at Kensington Palace and at their home in Norfolk.”
And Kate’s beautiful photographs not only brought fans up to date with how the princess was growing, but they also seemed to show off her personality. Judging by the snaps, then, the young royal seems to be growing up into an energetic, outgoing girl.
It may be hard to believe, too, that Charlotte is almost old enough to start attending school. Nonetheless, as ardent followers of the British royal family know, the princess was born on May 2, 2015, in St. Mary’s Hospital’s Lindo Wing – the very place that also saw the arrival of her big brother, George. And her birth – as well as that of her younger sibling, Louis – also happened to make royal history.
As soon as Charlotte entered the world, you see, she became fourth in line to the throne – behind only George, her father, William, and her grandfather, Prince Charles. And while in the not-so-distant past, the birth of a younger brother would once have pushed her back to fifth in line, the law was changed in 2015.
Once Louis arrived, then, Charlotte became the first British royal older sister to outrank her younger brother in lineage. That said, she may not yet know the ins and outs of her future responsibilities; reportedly, George doesn’t even know that he’ll likely be king one day.
Meanwhile, when Charlotte was born, there was an outpouring of celebration – as is often the case for royal babies. Even before her name was announced, London landmarks such as the Tower Bridge and BT Tower lit up in pink to mark the delivery of a girl, while gun salutes took place the following day at the Tower of London and in Hyde Park.
But Charlotte’s arrival also seemingly prompted Kate and William to take extra steps to ensure the family’s privacy. In particular, the duke and duchess arranged for letters to be sent to “individuals found operating on or around the Sandringham estate,” as a spokesperson told the BBC in 2015.
And these notes stated in no uncertain terms that William and Kate wished to be left alone. “There have in the past been a number of intrusions into the privacy of the royal family which in the main have been as a result of professional photographers using long-distance lenses – not only to observe the royal family, but also to photograph them going about their activities on the estate,” read the message.
It appeared, too, that George and Charlotte’s presence made the matter particularly urgent. “The warm-hearted and understandable interest in the royal family and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge needs to be balanced with their right to private family life. This is especially important for a family with very young children,” the spokesperson added.
Still, Kate and William try to balance out the privacy issue by providing new pictures of their children – images typically captured by Kate herself. “Nothing is a given, but in terms of managing to keep a good relationship with the British media, it’s in William and Kate’s interest to release photos,” royal expert Victoria Arbiter explained to Cosmopolitan in 2018.
And it appears that Kate is an accomplished snapper, too. At the very least, during the same period in which she was studying for her art history degree at St. Andrew’s University, she was learning camera techniques on the side. At one point, she was also mentored by celebrity photographer Alistair Morrison, and Morrison has since sung the duchess’ praises to the media.
Then when Kate was given an honorary membership of the Royal Photographic Society in 2017, The Guardian published a piece about the royal’s photos that similarly honored her talents. “Kate’s photographs of her children – she snaps other stuff too, but it is her portraits of George and Charlotte that are most memorable – are full of love. Seen with a parent’s eye, they are strong, characterful portraits,” wrote Jonathan Jones.
And Kate has taken many pictures of Charlotte in the years since the princess was born. Perhaps among the sweetest, however, are the photos of the newborn Charlotte alongside her older brother, George. The adorable shots were created in May 2015 and released by Kensington Palace the following month.
Then in November 2015 the palace released two more images of Charlotte – again captured by Kate – in which the young royal is seen smiling cutely for her parents. “The duke and duchess continue to receive warm messages about Princess Charlotte from all around the world, and they hope that everyone enjoys these lovely photos as much as they do,” the statement released alongside the snaps read.
At around this time, sales of whatever Charlotte was seen wearing suddenly started to take off. Demand soared for the M&H Tiendas dress that the princess was sporting in the November 2015 pictures, for instance – with the result being that the Spanish company soon sold out of that particular style.
And M&H founder Margarita Pato Cid later shared her delight about the situation on Facebook. There, she wrote, “It has been a great surprise for us, and we feel really touched about it… dressing the Duchess of Cambridge’s daughter is more than a great honor.”
After that, Kate released a set of four photos of Charlotte to mark her first birthday, with one of the shots showing the princess having reached the childhood milestone of walking. Her hair had also grown long enough to enable accessories to be put in it.
And, yet again, Charlotte’s clothes prompted considerable excitement from one brand. “We are absolutely thrilled that Princess Charlotte looks so happy and beautiful wearing our rose-stitch cashmere cardigan,” said a spokesperson for the company Olivier Baby. “It’s an honour to be part of such a momentous occasion on her first birthday.”
Meanwhile, an insider speculated on the celebrations for Charlotte’s first birthday. “George will enjoy all the birthday festivities, and I’m sure there will be a few of his friends invited too,” postnatal care nurse Sarah Dixon told People. “He’ll help Charlotte open all her gifts – older siblings love to do that!”
Then when Charlotte turned two in 2017, Kate delivered again with a snap that showed her daughter at the family home of Anmer Hall. This adorable image was accompanied by a message, reading, “The duke and duchess are very pleased to share this photograph as they celebrate Princess Charlotte’s second birthday. Their Royal Highnesses would like to thank everyone for all of the lovely messages they have received.”
So, by the time that Charlotte’s third birthday rolled around, the release of a new celebratory photograph had practically become a royal tradition. But for that occasion, she and the whole family got an extra special present: a new baby brother. And, appropriately, the birthday photo that Kate took that year showed young Charlotte cradling and kissing Louis.
The Daily Mirror reported at the time, meanwhile, that Charlotte had probably had a quiet third birthday party given the royals’ packed calendar – Prince Harry and Meghan Markle had also wed that month, after all. However, the tabloid also mentioned that Charlotte’s great-grandmother, the Queen, had taken a helicopter to Kensington Palace to celebrate with her and meet the new arrival.
And considering William and Kate’s devotion to privacy and the wellbeing of their children, it’s not surprising that the exact details of any royal children’s birthday parties are under wraps. Yes, the kind of cakes they have and the presents they receive are unrecorded – for the moment, anyway. But by contrast, we do know that Charlotte embarked on a day trip not long after she had turned four.
Yes, in May 2019 Kate took all her children with her to the Chelsea Flower Show, where she had helped oversee the creation of a new garden called “Back to Nature.” And many photographs were taken of the family running around, with George, Louis and Charlotte picking up sticks and generally just behaving like kids.
Charlotte practically stole the show on that occasion, too, with her personality evident in specially recorded video of the event. The footage sees her barefoot, jumping in water and smiling at everything; at one point, she even yells out “Ooh la la!”
And then it appeared that Charlotte has developed a sassy, adorably bossy side. During playtime in the garden, George seems to be trying to make something with stones and sticks. When William asks his daughter, however, “Can you help George?” she responds “No!” before skipping past the pair.
Charlotte can also be heard shouting “George! Quicker, George!” while the family were playing. But it seems that she and her older brother aren’t always at loggerheads. In the video, for instance, the princess is seen following George to the garden’s little river and sitting down next to him when both decide to stick their feet in the water.
And it seems that this kind of carefree play was just what the Duchess of Cambridge had in mind when she came up with the garden. Of the project, Kate was quoted on the Kensington Palace social media accounts as saying, “In recent years, I have focused much of my work on the early years and how instrumental they are for outcomes later in life. I believe that spending time outdoors when we are young can play a role in laying the foundations for children to become happy, healthy adults.”
But while the photos from the Chelsea Flower Show garden showed the royal kids being packed full of energy, Kate’s official fourth birthday pictures of Charlotte were a touch more sedate. One photograph shows the little princess grinning excitedly while brandishing a picked flower.
Another snap shows Charlotte sitting on a wood fence and looking ready for adventure. Yet while the tartan skirt that she sports in the photo was ultimately revealed to be from London clothing store Amaia Kids, her other clothes proved harder to identify. The fashion website What Kate’s Kids Wore suggested, nevertheless, that Charlotte’s turtleneck may be a hand-me-down from George.
And when the new photographs were posted on the Clarence House Twitter page, people from all over the world took the opportunity to comment. “Fabulous photos! Catherine really does a wonderful job – and of course wishing Princess Charlotte a very happy birthday and many happy returns,” wrote one person.
Several Twitter users thought, too, that Charlotte looked a lot like the Queen – an assessment with which Hello! magazine seemingly agreed. “Charlotte and her great-grandmother share the same striking eye structure. From their matching blue eyes to the arch of their eyebrows, there’s no questioning their resemblance,” the publication remarked.
But along with the well-wishes from members of the public, there was also comment from the princess’ uncle, Harry, and aunt, Meghan. And the royal couple gave their congratulations in a sweet, casual style. “Happy birthday, Charlotte! Lots of love, H and M xo,” read the message on social media, which was accompanied with cake and balloon emojis.
What’s more, on this occasion William did actually share a tidbit about what he thought Charlotte’s birthday party would be like. The revelation came by way of The Gruffalo author Julia Donaldson, who had talked to the royal while receiving a CBE at Buckingham Palace.
And Donaldson talked to the Daily Mirror about what William had told her. “He said [that] it’s his daughter’s birthday today, and he loves [The Gruffalo],” the writer divulged in May 2019. “He reads my stories to his children, and he said he was going to have quite a rowdy party – he’s got a lot of children [coming].”
Of course, Charlotte’s birthday is over now, leaving her ready for yet another milestone later in 2019. In September, you see, she will be starting school for the first time. And while it’s not yet known which institution she will be attending, the media have speculated that she will be a student at prep school Thomas’s Battersea like George.
And then there are also quite a few other notable occasions in the calendar for 2019. In addition to the annual events such as Trooping the Colour, there’s a high chance that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will go on a royal tour overseas. If the couple bring their children with them, then, photographers other than Kate may be able to snap lots of pictures of Charlotte.
Plus, Charlotte and the other royal children have a new playmate now in the form of their cousin Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor – the first son of Harry and Meghan. Archie arrived on May 6, 2019, meaning he and Charlotte will ultimately celebrate their birthdays in the same week.
All in all, then, Charlotte’s fifth year on the planet appears to be a good one so far. And while the adventures of the young royal look likely to continue well into the future, her mother may just be on hand to document all of her milestones.