Name: Royal Christmas cards.
Age: About 120 years old – a snap of the future George VI in a sailor suit was sent out for Christmas 1903.
Appearance: A festival of luxurious natural fibres and stilted togetherness.
Royal Christmas cards? Really? There’s a permacrisis on, you know. Ah, come on. Nothing says Christmas like analysing pictures of absurdly privileged people looking uncomfortable. Come, indulge in the kind of Windsor study that gets Nicholas Witchell hot under the collar with me!
Hmph. Can’t they just buy an eight-pack of charity Rudolfs and robins like the rest of us? Traditionally, the royal family have used the festive season as an opportunity to show the lumpenproletariat their softer side, with carefully stage-managed family shots that Majesty magazine can describe as “heartwarming”.
Go on, take me through the highlights if you must. Depends how you like your royal cards – Tony and Cherie 2014 awkward? Or with a hint of authentic affection?
Awkward, please. There are so many to choose from. Unconvincing laughter on the royal yacht? Prince Philip looking thunderously bored? The Charles and Di misery years? For a real treat, I recommend the 2016 Clarence House gem, that, unusually, features Charles grimacing among a group of jolly Croatian dancers in traditional dress.
Why is that unusual? He always looks awkward. Charles and Camilla tend to ace the Christmas card game, with low-key, cheery shots of the pair of them looking genuinely happy: hugging in the garden or joking at the races. Last year’s featured Charles fixing Camilla’s face mask, quite sweetly.
I must say, they do look jolly. And so in love! That’s the spirit.
How about dogs? There are tons of dogs: a full furry selection box of corgis, dorgis, terriers and labs. The 1998 card features a record-breaking one dog per 2.4 humans.
So what’s on this year’s? No dogs, sadly: C and C’s card shows the two of them at Braemar Highland Gathering, resplendent in woollens. Charles is gazing into the distance; Camilla is smiling at him and wearing an over-sized pheasant on her hat, which seems risky around that trigger-happy crowd.
How about the younger generation? We’re still waiting breathlessly for the 2022 editions, but the Wales clan usually keep it traditional with plenty of wholesome outdoorsy shots and country casual woollies. Harry and Meghan, meanwhile, hammer home their breezy Montecito informality: 2021 not only featured bare feet and distressed denim, but the message “Happy holidays”. Consider my pearls clutched.
Do we think the Sussexes are on the Waleses’ Christmas card list this year? There’s certainly enough frost around for a full winter wonderland scene.
Do say: “Wishing you a very Happy Christmas and New Year.”
Don’t say: “It’s Funky Pigeon e-cards this year: we’ve just had the heating bill for Buckingham Palace.”