Opinion

Why must we insist on comparing the royal family’s Christmas cards?

Posted by
Hannah-Rose Yee
Published

No, the fact that they have two different festive cards isn’t a sign of a feud. And comparing the two images doesn’t achieve anything. 

Every year, the royal family releases their annual Christmas cards.

This year is no different, with Kensington Palace sharing the images used by the Princes William and Harry on Friday. (Clarence House also shared the image Prince Charles chose, a photograph of him and Camilla on a bench in the garden of their residence taken this summer.) 

William and wife Kate opted for a picture of their family including one of the first official pictures of baby Louis. Harry and Meghan went for a previously unseen picture from their wedding reception, an image of the newlyweds, arms entwined, watching a fireworks display.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night! Ha. Too bad things are never that simple, eh?

Like everything that the royal family does, and in particular, everything that sisters-in-law Meghan and Kate do, their choice of images have been endlessly scrutinised in the media. Here, some appeared to say, is evidence of the vast oceans of difference between the two royal couples. Here, some commentators noted, is a clear sign that the two families are feuding.

And how did they divine all that, we hear you ask? Because one picture featured a smiling family while the other a couple at their wedding.

It’s simple, can’t you see? Kate and William’s card is “relaxed”, “sweet”, “adorable” and “traditional”, “smiles-all-round“, full of “beaming” children and “family frolics”. Meghan and Harry’s card, by contrast, is “glossy”, “modern”, “super-glam” and “artful”. One, people seemed to say, is the card of a wholesome family, the other of a star and her husband.

Never mind the fact that Meghan and Kate are two very different women with two very different lives. One is a mother of three, the other a newlywed expecting her first baby. Both achieved very different milestones in 2018. Both had different things to celebrate and share with those lucky enough to be on their Christmas card mailing list, and chose images to reflect that. Have we all forgotten that this is how the whole sending out Christmas card malarkey works? Two brothers, with two different families, will generally send out two separate Christmas cards. 

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle

And yet the media saw fit to comb through the cards’ imagery for hidden messages of the alleged feud between the sisters-in-law. 

“This super-glam, uber-cool card is less about Christmas cheer and more about Harry and Meghan’s enviably romantic life as an A-list power couple in the Hollywood style,” body language expert Judi James told The Mirror. “By turning their backs to the camera they allow us to share their moment but not their company.” 

Some fans even despaired that the image was further evidence of Meghan and Harry appearing out of step with their family. “Interesting they have chosen one with their backs to the public,” one fan wrote . “I worry for Harry.” Another added: “Says it all. Turning their backs on people. She on her father and he on his family.”

Journalists Kaitlin Menza and Lisa Ryan of the Royal Obsessed podcast took it one step further, arguing that the lack of a joint Christmas card is evidence that all is not well between the two families. “What if they released a joint Christmas card,” they noted. “Just a barrel of laughs, we all love each other, like no harm, no foul.” An image of “George on Harry’s shoulders” or “Charlotte holding Meghan’s bump” could have ended all talk of feuds, they said.

Prince William and Kate Middleton 

The nail in the coffin, according to royal watchers, was the fact that Meghan and Harry’s card received “HALF” the likes, The Sun crowed, that Kate and William’s card received. “Both photos were posted at the same time on the Kensington Palace Instagram page, but the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s has proved way more popular,” The Sun noted.

Is anyone surprised? Even from my own, deeply personal experience, I can confirm that any picture that includes a baby will perform better on social media that one without.

But why are we comparing the Christmas cards in the first place? What do we have to gain by pitting family against family in this way?

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It’s completely normal for two different families to have two different Christmas cards. It’s completely normal for them to choose their own images. It’s completely normal for those images to represent the different years that these two different families have had. Nothing that Harry and Meghan, and William and Kate, have done here is strange or nefarious in any way.

At the end of the day, a Christmas card is only ever a way of spreading a message of good tidings of comfort and joy. We should let the two Princes’ Christmas cards do just that. 

Images: Getty

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Hannah-Rose Yee

Hannah-Rose Yee is a writer, podcaster and recent Australian transplant in London. You can find her on the internet talking about pop culture, food and travel.

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