Prince William’s 42nd Birthday Photo Symbolizes How the Prince of Wales Is Rewriting the Royal Family Parenting Playbook

Taken by Princess Kate, the snap “is a physical expression of their togetherness during what has been an emotionally challenging time.”

Prince William birthday photo
(Image credit: Courtesy of the Prince and Princess of Wales / Instagram)

The action shot of Prince William and his three kids Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis released on his 42nd birthday on June 21 is being called “the best photograph that has ever been taken of William and his children,” Hello reports. (It was snapped by the Wales family’s resident photographer, the Princess of Wales.) The photo—which shows the four jumping in the air on a beach in Norfolk—is filled with symbolism, and body language expert Noor Hibbert said that the snap showed “connectedness, unity, and bonding” and “genuine joy.”

She told Hello that “This photo offers a delightful glimpse into their family dynamics,” Hibbert said. “The image showcases a joyful and relaxed family moment, which is very significant given their current circumstances with Prince William, particularly having to deal with both his father and wife being unwell.” (You knew this already, but both King Charles and Kate were diagnosed with cancer earlier this year.) 

The foursome are holding hands “and beaming from ear to ear as they jumped off the sand dunes,” Hello writes. Of the moment, Hibbert said that “This type of interaction is often seen as a positive indicator of a close and affectionate relationship between a parent and their children, which I feel has probably not only been strengthened as they navigate Kate’s illness,” she said. “The simple act of holding each other’s hands shows connectedness, unity, and bonding and is a physical expression of their togetherness during what has been an emotionally challenging time.”

The photo followed George, Charlotte, and Louis making their social media debut on June 16 to wish William a happy Father’s Day, and preceded George and Charlotte having a blast with Dad—who took them to see Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour at Wembley Stadium in London on the evening of his 42nd birthday on June 21. 

Prince William posts backstage selfie with Taylor Swift after London concert.

Dad of the Year? Yeah, we'd vote for him.

(Image credit: Instagram: @princeandprincessofwales)

“The children are displaying signs of genuine joy,” Hibbert said of the birthday photo. “Their facial expressions and body language indicate that they feel at ease and happy in their father’s presence, further emphasizing the warmth of their family environment.”

She added “This informal and spontaneous moment contrasts with the often formal and restrained public appearances typical of royal family members, making the image particularly endearing and relatable to the public.”

If nothing else, it has been a good week for William’s parenting skills—Travis Kelce, who met William, George, and Charlotte backstage at the Eras Tour nearly one week ago, praised not only William as a person but also William as a parent, saying on his podcast “New Heights” that, when it comes to raising kids, “If anyone’s doing it right, Prince William’s doing it right.”

Prince William poses with kids Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis for Father's Day

Jackie Kennedy once said "If you bungle raising your children, I don't think whatever else you do matters very much." Three cheers to William and all the other parents who aren't bungling it.

(Image credit: Getty)
Rachel Burchfield
Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor

Rachel Burchfield is a writer, editor, and podcaster whose primary interests are fashion and beauty, society and culture, and, most especially, the British Royal Family and other royal families around the world. She serves as Marie Claire’s Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor and has also contributed to publications like Allure, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar, InStyle, People, Vanity Fair, Vogue, and W, among others. Before taking on her current role with Marie Claire, Rachel served as its Weekend Editor and later Royals Editor. She is the cohost of Podcast Royal, a show that was named a top five royal podcast by The New York Times. A voracious reader and lover of books, Rachel also hosts I’d Rather Be Reading, which spotlights the best current nonfiction books hitting the market and interviews the authors of them. Rachel frequently appears as a media commentator, and she or her work has appeared on outlets like NBC’s Today Show, ABC’s Good Morning America, CNN, and more.