The royal wedding portraits are officially here!
Today, Kensington Palace released three gorgeous, stunning, heartstring-pulling and downright adorable photos of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, now formally known as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, and the Royal Family–with the Queen and Prince Philip, Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles, Markle’s mother Doria Ragland, Prince William and Catherine along with their children, Prince George and Princess Charlotte (Prince Louis stayed at home for the occasion) and the couple’s page boys and bridesmaids.
The photos mark a clear shift in the monarchy in regard to style, sentiment and overall feel. While they certainly feel as formal and regal as Will & Kate’s did in 2011, there are some clear differences between this couple’s photos, taken by their official wedding photographer Alexi Lubomirski, and that of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, who turned to Mario Testino for their shots.
Let’s start with the couple’s solo portraits–because Will & Kate didn’t have one. While Harry and Meghan had a glaringly more relaxed, intimate and on-location photo session with Alexi Lubomirski for their engagement photographs, few expected them to carry that style into their official wedding portraits–but then they, per usual, bucked tradition in favor of the unexpected.
The couple, who clearly have an affinity for being photographed on grand flights of stairs, posed lovingly and candidly in their ceremony ensembles, with the bride cracking a huge, genuine smile and the groom gazing down on her adoringly. As if the ceremony didn’t have us swooning already.
Will and Kate, on the flip side, decided to forgo a solo portrait of them as a newlywed couple. If they did choose to take one, they chose not to share it publicly, making a statement of how they’d prefer to be seen by the world and the Commonwealth.
Then there were the bridal party and family portraits, which bear far more similarities. This is Meghan’s first time being photographed with Prince George and Princess Charlotte, and the moment did not disappoint. The shot feels genuine, warm and inviting–and differs from Will and Kate’s mainly in that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have expanded their family, and we are now just as invested in the page boys and bridesmaids of this wedding as we are the bride and groom.
At Will and Kate’s wedding, the most interesting part of their bridal party was a grumpy bridesmaid–and Kate’s absolutely breathtaking dress, whereas Meghan and Harry’s photo has us beaming, and wishing there was some way to include the one-month-old Prince Louis in the shots.
Body language here is the most similar–how could you not be cool, calm and downright smiley when surrounded by a crew of adorably dressed kids–but the family portrait’s body language has some clear differences.
This marks the first time a woman of mixed race has been welcomed into the British royal family, and the first time an American has as well. Therefore, this is certainly the first time that a woman of color graces a British royal family wedding portrait, and Doria Ragland and Meghan Markle’s sheer presence in these shots–and their warm welcome into the Royal Family–are enough to make history and differentiate the importance and significance of these portraits from those in the past.
The Royal Family at this wedding is bigger, now that Will and Kate have had children and Harry and Meghan made the decision to have a bridal party of ten, four more than William and Catherine’s two page boys and four bridesmaids. The Royal Family at this wedding, unsurprisingly, was far more relaxed–and the photographs illustrated that most clearly.
Take a look around: Charlotte is sitting on Catherine’s lap; the two bridesmaids on the bottom left are co-holding a bouquet, and some would venture to say that the smiles are just a tiny bit wider and warmer this time. Overall it’s clear from every part of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s wedding that their goal is to make the Royal Family more approachable, diverse, dynamic and genuine–and their much-anticipated photographs, like their much-anticipated wedding, will go down in the books as defining the new face of the Royals.
This article originally appeared on Harper’s Bazaar US.