Why Wasn’t Queen Elizabeth in Prince Charles’ Birthday Portrait?

Sitting for family portraits is a rite of passage for so many families around the world, and the British royal family is no exception. Commemorating monumental events such as holidays and birthdays with professional photography is commonplace. Somehow, those royal photographers even get the little kids to sit still and smile. It’s amazing!

But one notable detail about the royal family’s most recent portrait was a little shocking to fans and citizens.

Prince Charles of Wales

Prince Charles | Carl Court/Getty Images

The Queen was not in the photograph

Previous official royal family portraits always included the matriarch, Queen Elizabeth II. After all, she is the most esteemed and longest reigning member of the royal family. However, when the family recently got together for Prince Charles’ 70th birthday portraits, the Queen was not in attendance. A lot of people couldn’t figure out why.

Who was in the picture?

The portrait came out beautifully. In it, the heir to the throne Prince Charles is seated next to his wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, and the pair is flanked by Prince William, Kate Middleton, Prince George, Princess Charlotte, Prince Louis, Prince Harry, and Meghan Markle all happily smiling in the garden of Clarence House.

The Queen is stepping back from duties

Queen Elizabeth skipped out on this portrait on purpose, and it’s not the only thing she’s missing these days. She’s been gradually passing on royal duties to other royal family members for some time now. She probably won’t ever give up the throne officially, but when it comes to sharing the burden of royalty she’s amenable to getting help where she can.

What royal duties has she given up?

Meghan Markle stepped in for the Queen in June 2018 with the Queen’s Young Leaders program, which was reportedly one of the Queen’s favorites and probably very difficult to give up. Prince Charles, Prince William, and Prince Harry have all been assisting with royal tours as the Queen travels less frequently.

With all the help in her family, it makes sense that these younger members of the royal family would undertake rigorous travel schedules in place of the 92-year-old Queen.

She’s relaxing with her husband

Queen Elizabeth’s husband Prince Philip officially retired from royal duties in 2017 when he was 96 years old. His retirement probably helped influence the Queen’s decision to undertake fewer duties, too. The pair celebrated their 71st wedding anniversary in November 2018.

While the Queen may still participate in some royal events, it’s likely she’ll be noticeably absent in other places besides just royal portraits going forward. It doesn’t mean she’s shirking royal duties – just that she’s being smart and taking it easy.