Before this year, there were only two Christmas cards the public cared about: the British royal family and the American royal family (also known as the Kardashians). This year, however, the British royals have two holiday cards in contention: that of Prince William and Kate Middleton and one from newlyweds Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
People have been fascinated by the royals forever, but recently the four have been under intense scrutiny because people have theorized that the two couples are at odds. So when the Royal Christmas cards came out, people got their magnifying glasses out and started looking for clues of a potential rivalry. Luckily, we have professional help, and sought the guidance of Susan Constantine, a body language and communication expert, to help us break it all down.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are delighted to share a new photograph from their Wedding Reception at Frogmore House on 19th May.— Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) December 14, 2018
The photograph, which features on Their Royal Highnesses’ Christmas card, was taken by photographer Chris Allerton. pic.twitter.com/PQPUuRwnIj
Though we can't see the newlyweds' faces, their embrace says a lot about their connection. "[Markle] has her arm around him, but Harry is holding on to her from both ends," said Constantine. "I think this is showing an incredible, strong bond. It's not like his left arm is down on his side — he's creating even more closeness with her. "
Most people who find a prince would hold on to him as tightly as possible, he seems like the one who truly doesn't want to let go. "She has a more relaxed stance as she's looking up, but he's having a stronger emotional response to the moment than even she is. He's grabbing onto both of her hands. It's really powerful."
In stark contrast to this photo, the second card is a lovely, carefree family portrait from The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are pleased to share a new photograph of their family.— Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) December 14, 2018
The photograph, taken by Matt Porteous, shows The Duke and Duchess with their three children at Anmer Hall, and features on Their Royal Highnesses’ Christmas card this year. pic.twitter.com/6XqCMlhLi8
While Prince Harry and Markle are making a celebratory statement about their bond with each other, Constantine sees this card as more of an outward expression of joy.
"What's great about this is that they've lightened the load a lot. When you look at last year's picture, it's like 'the perfect family photo,'" said Constantine. "Everything is staged and everything is picture perfect. Here they're normalizing their life, which allows more people to connect with them on a human level — even the fact that they're wearing sweaters and jeans. I think it's a photo that's more about a stronger connection with the audience."
As for Prince William's gritted-teeth smile, Constantine thinks that it's likely just the product of a long day with rambunctious kids.
"I can tell that William is straining to put a smile on his face, but chances are they've taken about 50 shots before," said Constantine. "In the first ones, he was probably smiling more genuinely. But Kate's going with the flow. The way she feels about her family illuminates her entire face."
Many may see these two differing photos competing with one another, but Constantine sees one influencing the other for the better.
"Prince William and Kate seem to be following in the footsteps of Harry and Meghan by breaking the rules a little bit. Kate and William have always adhered to this strict tradition, but I think they can be playful too. They're a fun, sexual couple, like we saw in the photos from the beginning of their relationship. We're finally starting to see that here. I don't see them competing — I see them complementing each other as fun, modern royals."
See, the holidays always seem to bring people together.