Given her advancing years and remarkably busy schedule, it was understandable that the Queen, by mutual consent, chose not to attend Prince Louis’s christening. But the 92-year-old monarch poignantly retains a place in an intimate family portrait taken in the Morning Room at Clarence House last week, watching over the next generation of her family. The oil on canvas portrait of the Queen, by Michael Noakes between 1972 and 1973, appears to have been raised several inches up the wall from its previous position to ensure it is visible in the official picture by photographer, Matt Holyoak. Below her, gathered together for the first time, are the faces of those who will carry the baton for decades to come, including all five Cambridges and Meghan Markle. In the absence of the Queen, Carole Middleton takes centre stage in the wider family snapshot, standing alongside the Prince of Wales and directly behind her daughter and 11-week-old grandson, peacefully sleeping following his baptism in The Chapel Royal at St James's Palace. Pippa Matthews, the Duchess of Cambridge’s sister, who has a small pregnancy bump of her own, is joined in an official royal portrait for the first time by her husband, James Matthews, a hedge fund manager, who is positioned just behind her. The Cambridges, in their first official portrait as a family of five Credit: Matt Holyoak Prince George, four, smiles naturally, his head slightly tilted to one side as his father places a reassuring arm around his back while his three-year-old sister, Princess Charlotte, sits next to her mother, jauntily clutching her knee. When the group was last pictured together in the Morning Room, for Prince George’s own christening in October 2013, both Prince Harry and Ms Middleton, as she was then, were single. The Queen sat alongside the Duchess of Cambridge and the young future king, with the Duke of Edinburgh, behind her. The latest portrait conveys the gradual shift towards the next generation as the younger ranks are swelled by new births and happy marriages while the most senior members of the family take a back seat. The Queen, and the Duke of Edinburgh, 97, did not attend the christening in what was described as a "mutual decision" made some time ago. Sources insisted it was not due to ill health on the part of the Queen but because Her Majesty had a busy schedule in Scotland the previous week and in London in the following days, including the RAF centenary and the visit from Donald Trump. The Duchess of Cambridge holds Prince Louis in the garden at Clarence House following his christening Credit: Matt Holyoak The four photographs released by Kensington Palace on Sunday night include an image of the Duchess of Cambridge gazing adoringly at her younger son, seen awake in public for the first time. Looking skyward in the sunny garden, the baby prince displays his big blue eyes while clutching onto his mother’s dress with a small chubby hand. In the first official portrait of all five members of the Cambridge family, Prince George appears slightly apprehensive, one hand plunged into his shorts pocket. His younger sister, meanwhile, displays the confident, possibly cheeky, personality that has already become familiar, smiling directly at the camera, one hand behind her back and the other holding onto Prince Louis’s christening gown, a replica of the 172-year-old royal christening robe. The next generation of The Firm gather together for Prince Louis's christening Credit: Matt Holyoak She had worn the gown herself at her own christening just three years ago and her elder brother two years before that. Mr Holyoak said: "I was truly honoured at being asked to take the official photographs at the christening of Prince Louis, and to witness at first hand such a happy event. “Everyone was so relaxed and in such good spirits, it was an absolute pleasure. I only hope I have captured some of that joy in my photographs." The photographer has worked with a host of celebrities, his photos regularly splashed on the covers of magazines such as Harper's Bazaar, Shortlist and Dazed and Confused. He photographed the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh as part of a series of portraits released to mark their 70th wedding anniversary.
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