Vogue’s Only Portrait Of Charles, Diana, William & Harry Together At Highgrove Was A Masterclass Of Artifice

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ROYALS
Vogue’s Only Portrait Of Charles, Diana, William & Harry Together At Highgrove Was A Masterclass Of Artifice
BY ROBIN MUIR

18 November 2023
Vogues Only Portrait Of Charles Diana William Harry Together At Highgrove Was A Masterclass Of Artifice
Snowdon

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This family portrait by Snowdon of the Prince and Princess of Wales and their two young sons, William and Harry, was taken in 1991 at Highgrove as spring gave way to summer.

It was originally intended for a Best of British issue celebrating Vogue’s 75th anniversary, where it would have joined a Snowdon portfolio that included clean-living footballer Gary Lineker, comedian Les Dawson, and Prime Minister John Major with his wife, Norma. It failed to appear, chiefly because royal sittings set their own agenda and follow their own trajectory. Inevitably, dates are fluid and promises are broken; they must fit into a royal schedule and, let’s face it, they don’t really want to go through with this photography nonsense anyway.

Or did they? As a new decade dawned, someone could see the benefit of a transaction with Vogue. The Princess of Wales increasingly made use of the magazine to reflect a carefully crafted image of a hard-working, high-profile woman of the world engaged in vital humanitarian causes, a public figure of independent ideas with a bold, unstuffy approach to the job. Patrick Demarchelier’s Vogue shoot for Christmas 1989, starring the Princess and her sons at Highgrove – the Prince of Wales was conspicuously absent – started this particular bandwagon rolling, and the handbrake was off. By now, hairline cracks in the royal marriage had begun to turn into sizeable fissures. Nineteen-eighty-nine was the year, it was widely believed, that Diana confronted Mrs Camilla Parker Bowles, her husband’s mistress, about their extramarital affair.