In a candid photo montage to celebrate Prince Charles’ 70th birthday this week, Clarence House has included a photo of Princess Diana. The shot, featuring the late Princess of Wales with an eight-month-old Prince Harry in her arms and her then-husband Prince Charles carrying a two-year-old Prince William, was taken on the Royal Yacht Britannia when Diana was just 23.
It was one of a series of photos taken at a press conference in 1985 at the end of the Royal Family’s three-week tour of Italy that culminated in Venice. It was only four years after the couple had made their wedding vows amidst the splendor and pageantry of St. Paul’s Cathedral.
Considering that it’s been 21 years since the beloved Princess of Wales died in a horrific car crash, and 26 years since the royal couple’s separation announcement, it’s all the more touching and fitting that a photo of the proclaimed “People’s Princess” is part of Charles’ birthday celebrations.
Seen with her trademark shy smile, Princess Diana’s inclusion is a mark of respect for the woman who gave Prince Charles his two beloved sons and the British throne an heir — Prince William.
Commentators were divided on the montage. Some noted how happy Charles looks nowadays with Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, who he married in 2005.
Others, however, were not so impressed that there was only one photo of Princess Diana included. “What a lack of maturity to put only [one] photo of Princess Diana,” one commenter declared.
“You should have put more than one slide with Diana on it,” another added.
But the majority of people were quick to come to the defense of the prince, pointing out that the entire point of the post — which was released on the social media channels of Clarence House — was to celebrate Prince Charles’ life.
The gorgeous photos were released after a jam-packed week of back-to-back birthday gatherings, including an A-list concert held in his honor called We Are Most Amused and Amazed, and a glittering private party with the prince’s nearest and dearest loved ones at Buckingham Palace.
On November 14th, Charles’ actual birthday, Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton were pictured arriving at Buckingham Palace with their husbands Prince Harry and Prince William for the dazzling event. Prince Charles arrived to his private party in a chauffeur-driven car with wife Duchess Camilla by his side, while the queen met her son at the palace gates to wish him a happy birthday. Other notable royals pictured arriving for the reception and dinner include newlyweds Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank, as well as Zara and Mike Tindall.
At the dinner, the queen toasted her son in a rare and heartfelt speech. Here are her touching words, in full, which were shared on the royal family’s official website:
“It is a privilege for any mother to be able to propose a toast to her son on his 70th birthday. It means that you have lived long enough to see your child grow up. It is rather like — to use an analogy I am certain will find favor — planting a tree and being able to watch it grow. My mother saw me turn 70, of course. And she was heard to observe that 70 is exactly the age when the number of candles on your cake finally exceeds the amount of breath you have to blow them out. Over his 70 years, Philip and I have seen Charles become a champion of conservation and the arts, a great charitable leader — a dedicated and respected heir to the throne to stand comparison with any in history — and a wonderful father. Most of all, sustained by his wife Camilla, he is his own man, passionate and creative.So this toast is to wish a happy birthday to my son, in every respect a duchy original. To you, Charles. To the Prince of Wales.”
This article was originally written by Ruth Devine. For more, check out our sister site, Now to Love.