Princess Charlotte's Royal Transformation Revealed in Birthday Pictures

New photographs taken by Kate Middleton, wife of Prince William, to celebrate their daughter Princess Charlotte's seventh birthday illustrate the young princess's transformation from a shy figure to an increasingly confident young royal, who walks side by side with older brother, and future king, Prince George.

The images released by Kensington Palace on Sunday, were taken by Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, in Norfolk over the weekend before Charlotte's birthday on Monday, May 2.

Princess Charlotte Bluebell Birthday
Princess Charlotte poses amongst bluebells in Norfolk in a portrait taken by the Duchess of Cambridge to mark her seventh birthday. April 2022. DUCHESS OF CAMBRIDGE

The Cambridges' country home is on Queen Elizabeth II's Sandringham estate and is where the young family prefer to spend much of their time. Many of the birthday portraits taken of the Cambridge children, Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis, have been taken at the property.

This year's birthday photographs show Charlotte relaxed in a blue cable-knit sweater posing amongst bluebells. In one standout image the princess sits with an arm around the Cambridge family's cocker spaniel, Orla.

Princess Charlotte Orla Birthday
Princess Charlotte poses with family cocker spaniel, Orla, in a portrait marking her seventh birthday taken in Norfolk. April 2022. DUCHESS OF CAMBRIDGE

The images prompted a wave of adoration online for the young royal. Lifestyle editor Elizabeth Di Filippo wrote on Twitter: "Princess Charlotte's birthday portrait hits right in the feels."

Writer and royal commentator Kinsey Schofield posted to the social media platform saying: "Princess Charlotte of Cambridge and a puppy is the happiness I needed on my feed today."

While celebrity gossip writer Perez Hilton drew comparisons between the princess and other members of the royal family. He wrote: "I also see a lot of her Majesty, The Queen, in these new photos!!"

A Transformation Through Birthday Photography

The princess's growth can be seen most clearly in a comparison of the birthday images released each year to celebrate her birthday taken by the Duchess of Cambridge.

Kate's first publicly released photograph was taken in May 2015, just weeks after Charlotte was born. In one image she was photographed sitting on her older brother's lap in a touching family moment that would not usually have been accessible to an outside photographer.

Writing in The Crown in Focus: Two Centuries of Royal Photography, author Claudia Acott Williams explains that the duchess's taking and disseminating her own photographs of the royal children forms part of a carefully managed relationship between the royals and the public.

"Such a personal approach has served as an effective means of satisfying public demands to share in royal milestones while allowing the family to retain a certain degree of privacy and control over the images' construction," she writes.

"Consequently, the photographs the duchess has chosen for public release are imbued with a special charm thanks to their uniquely personal perspective."

To mark Charlotte's second birthday in 2017, the Cambridge's released a photograph of the princess taken by Kate amongst hay bales at their home in Norfolk dressed in a vintage inspired cardigan.

Princess Charlotte Second Birthday
Princess Charlotte was photographed by the Duchess of Cambridge at the family home in Norfolk for her second birthday. April 2017. AFP / KENSINGTON PALACE / THE DUCHESS OF CAMBRIDGE

The Cambridges have not always released new photographs of their children on their birthdays. In 2018, the year in which Charlotte first went to nursery school, a previously released image was posted to mark her third birthday, for reasons that were not made public. Royal author Penny Junor told Elle U.K at the time that this could be a decision made by the Cambridges so as not to "overexpose" their children.

On the princess's fourth birthday in 2019 a series of photographs showing her more boisterous side were released by Kensington Palace. The images show a much more grown up Charlotte from the last set of birthday portraits released in 2017 with her shown climbing gates and running with flowers.

With 2020 came the national lockdowns and isolation of the coronavirus pandemic and reflecting this, the Duchess of Cambridge took a series of photographs of her daughter helping the local Norfolk community by delivering food packages to the elderly.

In one specially released image the princess is shown with her long hair down in a portrait-style photograph holding a bag of homemade pasta which was among the gifts of food distributed.

The 2021 image released in conjunction with the princess's birthday showed the princess with a wide smile and wearing a floral print dress not unlike those worn by the queen when she was a girl in the 1930s with her sister, Princess Margaret. The image was once again taken at the Cambridges' Norfolk home, adding to the gallery of images marking major milestones in the royals' lives.

A Busy Year

2022 has already been a busy year for Charlotte who has accompanied her parents on two very public engagements.

The first of these events was the service of thanksgiving for the life of the princess's great-grandfather, Prince Philip, at Westminster Abbey in March.

Charlotte attended the service alongside her brother George. The youngest Cambridge child, Prince Louis was not included. The princess was walked into the service by her mother who took her through one of her first official line-ups, introducing her to the assembled clergy at the great west door.

Princess Charlotte Events 2022
Princess Charlotte has attended two major royal engagements already this jubilee year. Photographed (L) at the service of thanksgiving for the life of Prince Philip, March 29, 2022. And (R) at the Royal Easter Sunday service, April 17, 2022. Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Image/ANDREW MATTHEWS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Another public engagement attended by Charlotte this year was the annual royal Easter Sunday service at St George's Chapel, Windsor. Though the queen did not attend the service, the royals were led by Prince William and the Cambridges from the castle to the chapel and back again.

This year marks the queen's Platinum Jubilee and there are many events planned to celebrate this throughout the year with a special central weekend of events taking place in June. These events include a special trooping of the colour ceremony, a service of thanksgiving at St Paul's Cathedral and a pageant outside Buckingham Palace, some of which the Cambridge children are expected to attend.

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