Suddenly Princess Charlotte seems quite the young lady. Perhaps it is her long hair, worn down instead of pushed back off her head in a bow, but as this official photograph released to mark her sixth birthday today clearly shows, she hasn’t lost her mischievous grin.
Spirited females feature throughout Royal history and Charlotte has inherited a forthright confidence – what her mother calls ‘a feisty side’.
Sandwiched in age between older brother George, seven, and three-year-old Louis, she is more than capable of holding her own. Family friends describe her as ‘determined’ and ‘bright as a button’ – both in brains and personality.
The image shot yesterday in Norfolk by her mother Kate is the latest in a series of delightful mementoes of Charlotte’s birthdays taken by the Duchess and also featured here.
In the new picture, Charlotte wears a Rachel Riley floral summer dress and her widest smile as Kate captures something of her impishness too. Similar traits are shared by the women on her mother’s side of the family.
Her great-uncle, Gary Goldsmith, said of Charlotte last month: ‘She is really cheeky and confident, just like the rest of the family. I think she’s the one I’m most excited to watch grow up.’
Although her parents have always fiercely protected their children’s privacy, restricting the number of photocalls they take part in each year for instance, they have been more relaxed of late.
During lockdown, they shared their experiences of homeschooling, with William admitting it was ‘a bit of a nightmare’ and joking that he struggled with Year 2 maths.
Along with her brothers, Charlotte was pictured clapping for carers during the first lockdown and delivering packages of homemade pasta to isolated pensioners on the Sandringham Estate. In a video with David Attenborough, Charlotte was heard declaring: ‘I like spiders. Do you like spiders too?’
At some point in the future, Charlotte will be the only daughter of the King, and will inevitably face intense scrutiny, a fact that has not escaped her parents.
Before that time, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will continue to ensure their children’s lives are as normal as possible.
When they do appear in public, though, it is invariably Charlotte who steals the show – never more than at the Royal Family’s traditional Christmas Day church service in 2019 when she delighted well-wishers by pulling cheeky faces, cheerily waving, stopping to accept presents and even hugging a woman in a wheelchair.
At Princess Eugenie’s wedding the previous year, bridesmaid Charlotte revelled in the spotlight, waving enthusiastically to crowds at St George’s Chapel, Windsor.
The first of her scene-stealing cameos came aged just 13 months on the Buckingham Palace balcony during the Queen’s 90th birthday celebrations.
Held in Kate’s arms, she put a finger in her ear at the sound of the Red Arrows, then threatened to steal her great-grandmother’s thunder by giving her own wave to the thousands below.
The new photograph follows the release of a video of Charlotte with her brothers and their parents to mark the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s 10th wedding anniversary last week. It showed the family enjoying time outdoors at their Norfolk residence Anmer Hall and on sand dunes at a nearby beach.
In the video, Charlotte was seen playing and toasting a marshmallow on a camp fire.
While she adores spending time with grandparents Carole and Michael – as well as grandpa Charles – William and Kate have ensured that she also learns about her other grandparent, Princess Diana.
Charlotte was given the middle name Diana and christened at the same Sandringham church where her grandmother, who died 24 years ago, was baptised.
Every Mother’s Day, both she and George write loving messages in homemade cards to Diana. This year, Charlotte wrote in a card adorned with a giant heart and flowers: ‘Dear Granny Diana. I am thinking of you on Mother’s Day. I love you very much. Papa is missing you. Lots of love Charlotte.’