Prince William and Kate Middleton Face a Big Decision About Prince Louis in the Coming Weeks

Could the antics and hijinks of little Louis end up swaying public opinion back in the royal family’s favor?

Prince Louis
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Amidst the furor, an upcoming celebration: Prince Louis—arguably the entire world’s favorite little guy—turns six years old on April 23, and in years past that would mean an always adorable birthday portrait, typically taken by his mother, the Princess of Wales, and released to the public. But this year? Well, this year might be different.

Prince Louis' first day of nursery, 2021

Will we get a personal photo like this of Prince Louis, taken on his first day of nursery in 2021?

(Image credit: Instagram)

Following Kate’s Mother’s Day photo scandal last week—when she admitted to editing a photo of herself and her three kids Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Louis, as the public continued to speculate about her health—the possibility exists that personal photos released by the Wales family to the public might become a relic of the past. The Sunday Times reports that Prince William and Kate, thankfully, are still planning on continuing the tradition and releasing a birthday photo, but they’re “undecided” right now if Kate will take it, or if they’ll hire a professional photographer to do the job.

Prince Louis

Prince Louis on his fourth birthday in 2022

(Image credit: The Princess of Wales via Getty)

Prince Louis

For this photo (and many others), it was Princess Kate that was behind the camera

(Image credit: The Duchess of Cambridge via Getty Images)

It would be a no-brainer to go with the pros on this one, except that Adelaide Cottage—where the Wales family of five reside—is more or less on lockdown right now, and only those closest to them are visiting as Kate recovers from abdominal surgery she had in January. To have a photographer come onsite, even a trusted one, would breach that tight ring of protection that William and Kate have put around their family over the past two months.

“They appreciate the public’s love and affection for their children and know there is a public appetite to see them on their birthdays,” a source told The Sunday Times as to why the tradition of releasing birthday photos will reportedly continue. 

Prince Louis, Kate Middleton

Prince Louis being pushed in a wheelbarrow by his loving mom

(Image credit: Prince and Princess of Wales)

Louis’ birthday falls on a Tuesday this year, and the timing is tricky, as Kate could have already returned to work—Kensington Palace said in January it would be after Easter, which this year falls on March 31—or she could still be in recovery, though likely nearing the end of it. The Palace normally releases a new portrait of Louis (and his siblings on their respective birthdays) in the leadup to his big day.

Sources close to William and Kate said that no “firm decision” has been made as to whether Kate will take the photo or leave it in the hands of a professional photographer. Photographers the Wales family have outsourced family photographs to lately include Matt Porteous and Millie Pilkington.

Prince Louis

Prince Louis attended his first public Easter service alongside the royal family last year

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Prince Louis

It remains unknown right now whether Princess Kate will join the royal family for Easter services this year, which are in less than two weeks

(Image credit: Getty Images)

A friend and advisor of William and Kate told The Sunday Times that Kate was “devastated” over what has now become known as “Photogate”: “If you want to call out the mistake, it was Kate not telling her team that she’d done it [edited the photo],” they said. “But she came out and said sorry. The photo was a misstep. Even with something as innocent as that, you should disclose altering it.”

On the heels of Louis’ sixth birthday comes two more occasions William and Kate would typically release a photo for—their thirteenth wedding anniversary on April 29, and Charlotte’s ninth birthday on May 2. Whatever they decide to do for Louis will likely set the precedent for the two celebrations that follow right behind it, and how they will handle marking the occasion with the public.

Kate Middleton and Prince Louis

Mother and son during the Platinum Jubilee in 2022

(Image credit: Getty)

And look, if anyone can curry favor for the royal family and win back the public’s affection—it’s this little guy who is about to turn six. It’s time, blessedly, to send in Louis to save the day.

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.