Royal Family Releases Rare New Portrait Of Queen And 3 Future Kings

Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Charles, Prince William and Prince George appear in the picture that marks "the start of a new decade."

It’s the line of succession to the British throne ― in photographic form.

The royal family on Friday marked the start of the new decade with the release of a rare formally posed portrait of Queen Elizabeth II and three generations of her heirs ― son Prince Charles, grandson Prince William and great-grandson Prince George:

Photographer Ranald Mackechnie took the picture in the Throne Room at Buckingham Palace on Dec. 18, when the Queen hosted the royal family’s annual Christmas lunch.

He also took this portrait of the quartet in 2015 to mark the monarch’s 90th birthday the following year. It was later turned into a set of postage stamps:

Mackechnie recalled the “top secret” stamps project in the Instagram post, above, in October. “Having been commissioned by Royal Mail 18 months previously I wasn’t allowed to tell anyone, including my wife that I had been to Buckingham Palace until after the shoot,” he explained.

“As the picture was going to be turned into stamps on a sheet, each person’s head had to be in exactly the right place,” he continued, noting how a millimeter the wrong way “would have made the perforations too close together.”

Mackechnie set up monitors with templates of the stamp “so I could make sure each person’s head fitted into the right frame” but said that the computer system crashed just as the royals entered the room.

“Prince Charles was very sympathetic, and saved my blushes, and fortunately I had back-up so we were back up and running in about a minute,” he revealed. “It is a shoot I will never forget.”

Buckingham Palace last month also released this video of the four royals making Christmas puddings together: