Why the Queen Wasn't in Prince Charles' 70th Birthday Royal Family Photo

It's so cute, I literally teared up.

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(Image credit: Samir Hussein)

This evening, Kensington Palace decided to bless us with a candid portrait of all of your favorite royals ahead of Prince Charles' 70th birthday tomorrow. Taken in the gardens of Clarence House, the photo was captured while BBC filmed Prince Charles' documentary, Prince, Son & Heir: Charles at 70. The only person missing is the Queen. Gan Gan, where you at?

In the photo, we get our fourth (!) glimpse of seven-month-old Prince Louis in Kate's arms (we've only seen him immediately after his birthhis christening, and the other day with his mom Kate and grandpa Charles). But wait—it gets better. Meghan is candidly laughing next to Harry, who has a huge smile on his face, and George and Charlotte could not look any cuter. Five-year-old George is giggling while sitting on Prince Charles' lap and three-year-old Charlotte is cuddled up next to her grandma Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall looking at whatever she's pointing at. Kate and Will look like your average parents who just want to get this thing over with.

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(Image credit: Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

At first glance, this seems like a casual family photo, but it actually has a significant meaning. This year, the Queen has focused on ushering in a new era for the royal family—relinquishing important duties to her new granddaughter Meghan, who will now take over her role in the Young Leaders program. (The program honors exceptional young people for their work in Commonwealth nations. The Queen has dedicated her life's work to building the Commonwealth.)

HRH The Prince of Wales Birthday Family Portrait

(Image credit: Handout)

An intimate documentary released a couple months ago titled Queen of the World celebrates the Queen's life, and further emphasizes how she's passing the baton to her grandchildren. (Harry has recently become the world's new favorite royal, surpassing the Queen.) Perhaps the release of this photo was another big step—excluding herself to show the world the faces of the new monarchy.

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Rachel Epstein is an editor at Marie Claire, where she writes and edits culture, politics, and lifestyle stories ranging from op-eds to profiles to ambitious packages. She also manages the site’s virtual book club, #ReadWithMC. Offline, she’s likely watching a Heat game, finding a new coffee shop, or analyzing your cousin's birth chart—in no particular order.