Royals at Christmas: A look back at the festive cards from the Windsors

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Christmas is on its way and many families may have considered getting a beautiful family portrait to mark how the year has shaped them.

With so many families separated, sharing treasured memories as a Christmas card is a lovely way to update loved ones with events of the past year.

The British royal family is no exception.

For generations, they've been gifting family portraits as Christmas cards.

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1929 Royal Christmas card from the #RoyalArchives shows The Duke and Duchess of York, the future King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother, and their three-year-old daughter, Princess Elizabeth of York, now The Queen.
The Royal Family's 1929 Christmas card when The Queen was just three years old. instagram/@theroyalfamily

In recent years, the royals have sometimes released those photos on their official websites and social accounts, giving an insight into their lives and really showing they, especially the younger ones, are just like us (when it comes to family snaps, that is!).

Our favourite royal Christmas cards over the years

This 1929 Royal Christmas card from the #RoyalArchives shows The Duke and Duchess of York, the future King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother, and their three-year-old daughter, Princess Elizabeth of York, now The Queen.

This year Kate Middleton and Prince William decided to release an adorable photo from their family holiday to Jordan earlier in the year. The whole family can be seen beaming, dressed in their best summer attire.

The Cambridge Christmas card 2021
Kate Middleton and Prince William's Christmas card 2021. Photo: Getty Images

The Prince of Wales and his wife Camilla chose a family photograph taken at their April wedding for their 2005 Christmas card.

The photograph features Charles' sons, Prince Harry and Prince William, and Camilla's children, Laura and Tom Parker Bowles, with them in the White Drawing Room at Windsor Castle.

Britain's Prince of Wales and his wife Camilla, Charles' sons, Prince Harry, (far left) and Prince William (2nd L), Camilla's children Laura (2nd R) and Tom Parker Bowles, (far right) gathered around Charles and Camilla in the White Drawing Room at Windsor Castle.
Charles and Camilla chose a wedding photo as their 2005 Christmas card. Photo: Hugo Burnand/AFP via Getty Images

It was the first time Camilla appeared on Charles' Christmas card (their version on insta official!).

Poignant cards show happiness and tragedy

Royal cards can be poignant collectors' items, as this picture of an auctioneer holding cards from 1991 and 1997 shows.

The first card shows Charles, Diana, William and Harry in happier times.

The second is the first Christmas card sent after the boys lost their mum.

The photo of the Prince of Wales and his two sons was taken just days before the death of Princess Diana.

Auctioneer Paul Fairweather holds Christmas cards from 1991 (top) showing the Prince and Princess of Wales and their children; from 1997 the Prince of Wales and his two sons.
A 1991 Christmas card (top) shows the Prince of Wales and Diana, Princess of Wales, with their children, and (below), the Prince of Wales and the two princes in 1997. Photo: Dave Thompson, Getty Images

Camera captures new family for Christmas

While the central photograph in the spread below is not a Christmas card, the one to the left shows Charles and Diana's first card as parents in 1982, with a rugged up Prince William.

The black and white photo at bottom right was Diana's first Christmas card after splitting with Charles in 1995, prior to their divorce in August 1996.

The stunning portrait was a beautiful close-up of the princess and her boys William, 13 and Harry, 11.

Letters sent from Princess Diana and photos/cards of the Prince and Princes of Wales and their children.
Photos and cards of the Prince and Princess of Wales and their children, and letters. Photo: Andrew Parsons, Getty Images

A Royal family grows up

Charles and Diana continued to pose for family shots for those on their Christmas card list.

In 1987, the couple's card showed them with a laughing five-year-old Prince William and three-year-old Prince Harry.

1987 Christmas card from Prince Charles and Lady Diana, with sons William and Harry, is displayed at Julien's Auctions in Beverly Hills, California on November 7, 2012.
The Royal couple's 1987 card showed two happy princes, then aged five and three years. Photo: Joe Klamar, Getty Images

In 1988, the couple's card showed them leaning on a country gate with their boys.

Prince Charles and Princess Diana Christmas card showing children William and Harry in 1988.
Prince Charles and Princess Diana's 1988 family Christmas card with their boys. Photo: Gabriel Bouys, Getty Images

Cards record Christmases past

Another auction featured Christmas cards from the British Royal Family back in 1969 and again in 1979.

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh looked relaxed on holidays with their children, Prince Charles, Princess Anne – Princess Royal, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward.

Auctioneer Paul Fairweather holds Christmas cards from 1969 and 1979 showing The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh alongside their children, near a lake and a boat, at Omega Auctions in Stockport.   (Photo by Dave Thompson/PA Images via Getty Images)
The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh alongside their children in 1969 and 1979. Photo: Getty Images

Royal Christmas cards from 1957 and 1965 show that Queen Elizabeth II has often chosen an informal snap of her and the Duke of Edinburgh with their children.

Auctioneer Paul Fairweather holds Christmas cards from 1957 and 1965 showing Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh alongside their children, at Omega Auctions in Stockport.   (Photo by Dave Thompson/PA Images via Getty Images)
Royal Christmas cards from 1957 and 1965 showing Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh alongside their children. Photo: Getty Images

Perhaps now you have got a few extra ideas for your Christmas snaps?

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