Princess Kate isn’t like the other moms. Not because she’s the future Queen Consort or because she has access to billions of pounds worth of jewels—though those do somewhat set her apart from the pack, some might argue. She’s also a Colonel now, though that’s not the what we’re on about either. No, with a photo post ahead of Prince Louis’ fifth birthday, Kate proved that she’s a bonafide Instagram mom.
In the past, Kate has posted her own photographs of her children’s birthday celebrations. Recall Princess Charlotte going absolutely ham with that flower a few years back, and last summer’s Prince George beach snaps with the 9-year-old looking like his dad’s mini-me. Princess Kate is an accomplished photographer, and no one can get a candid photo where a kid’s personality really shines through like a parent (for better and for worse, as legions of exasperated parents can tell you while they plead with their offspring for just one nice shot, please, that is not the face your grandmother wants to see can tell you). However, this year for Louis’s birthday, Kate broke from her tradition and shared two shots by photographer Millie Pilkington. And—gasp!—Kate is in one of them!
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You may not think that this is notable for the noble, and it’s true that there hasn’t been even close to a shortage of pro shots of Kate for the past few decades. Marrying into the monarchy can do that to a person. However, it’s not that often that we see sanctioned, unposed photos of Kate actually playing with her kids. (Paparazzi doesn’t count.) A lot of her charity work and appearances have her getting grubby with any number of kids, but scroll through the Instagram account that she shares with Prince William and you’ll see: there’s actually a surprisingly small number of photos of her playing with her own kids.
Which is why the first of the two shots that commemorate Louis’s birthday is a welcome sight: Kate and her incredible blowout are hefting Louis, clad in a blue sweater and shorts and grinning to high heaven, in a greenery-filled wheelbarrow. It’s a really lovely moment, and even more than that, it’s a “proof of mom” photo. The term was coined online to remind parents, mothers in particular, to step out from behind the lens and be in the photo themselves with their families. So often, mothers and parental figures are the documenters and the keepers of schedules and memories, the receptacles of knowledge and family lore and recipes. There’s no question that they’re absolutely essential to the family and its function, but paging through the photos, they’re underrepresented in the shots.
Not to mention, kids’ birthdays are also milestones for the parents: Kate has been a mother of three for five years now. There’s a reason that people throw parties for first birthdays, even though the baby won’t remember it: It’s often a way for the parents to breathe a sigh of relief that they made it through an entire year of parenthood.
So while we’re nowhere close to forgetting that Kate exists, and we hope she keeps sharing photos she’s taken of her family, yes, it’s refreshing to have some proof of mom from the royal family.