Younger, hipper, cooler – Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s engagement photographs herald a new era of royal portraiture, just as their relationship has. Shot by rising star Alexi Lubomirski – a former assistant to Vogue favourite Mario Testino, who took William and Kate’s first official images (fuelling the fact that this couple represent the new generation) – these are images akin to a fashion campaign from heritage house Burberry (for whom Testino and his crew are frequent collaborators).
While the borderline engagement-ring advertisement pose is not all that different to Wills and Kate – heads together (sorry) and engagement ring on full show – the mood of all three, almost defiantly, is.
Markle pulls the focus in the first two. In the first, it is she who is centre frame with her eyes straight to camera, wearing a surprisingly daring, barely-there dress from the Ralph & Russo autumn/winter ‘16 couture runway (the brand is the only British couture house to show on the prestigious Paris schedule).
In the second, she is sensually enveloped in her prince’s jacket, wearing a suitably princess-to-be cream cashmere sweater and – her eyes blissfully closed – an expression to match. Harry, on the other hand, with his rough hipster beard and laughter lines, looks, well, like his Christmases have all come at once.
In the third (a bonus “candid” pic released as a thank-you for the well-wishes they received from the release of the first two), the pair are pictured full-length, against an enchanted Narnia-like background. Far from fairytales of old, this progressive picture – note how they are walking forward, staring into the distance – highlights more than the grandeur of Markle’s couture gown. The atmospheric soft lighting and the storytelling quality (think “ballgowns at dawn”) make it closer to a glossy magazine fashion spread than a traditional sitting. It points to how this pair plan to elevate the perception of what it means to be a modern royal couple.
These pictures prove that Harry and Meghan are going to be different to previous royals – and that we haven’t seen anything yet.