Here's a breakdown of all the hidden messages in the Cambridge clan's holiday greeting.
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the cambridge family christmas card photo
Credit: Duke and Duchess of Cambridge/Instagram

When it comes to royal family Christmas cards, nothing happens by accident. From the location to the outfits, each detail is pored over before the photographer shouts, "smile!" And Kate Middleton and Prince William's 2021 family Christmas card is no different. Here's a breakdown of all the hidden messages in the Cambridge family's sweet holiday greeting.

Kate and William's Rare PDA

Although the couple has been known to follow the Queen's lead and keep PDA to a minimum, they have shown a few rare moments of intimacy—especially lately. They've been spotted holding hands while on outings together and their 10th-anniversary photos earlier this year were their most romantic portraits yet. Their closeness was further on display in this year's Christmas card. In the family shot, William places his hand on his wife's knee and she returns the gesture by placing her hand on his. It may seem small, but any public display of affection between the future king and queen is a departure from their usual stoicism.

Unexpected Outfit Choices

It's not every day the future king shows a little leg. It's rare to see William in a pair of shorts instead of his usual long trousers. (Although he has worn shorts for sporty royal outings!). This is the first year William has worn shorts in the family's Christmas card photo, which shows that the prince was in total vacation mode.

Coordinated Color Palette

While Princess Charlotte, 6, and Prince Louis, 3, are matching in blue, William, Kate and Prince George, 8, sport olive green (a color they've worn in previous Christmas card photos). The earthy hue symbolizes peace and harmony, which is especially fitting for the holiday season. As William's heir, it's fitting that George would coordinate with his dad — right down to the little prince's relaxed stance.

Charlotte and Louis' Bond

With the rest of the family in olive green, Charlotte is elegant in her blue gingham dress from Mango, while Louis complements her in his Rachel Riley blue striped T-shirt (the same design George wore as a baby!). Charlotte and Louis are coordinated right down to their matching blue canvas Trotters sneakers. This doesn't come as a surprise considering the duo has always shared a special closeness. William and Kate released a sweet photo for Charlotte's third birthday that shows the protective big sister cradling Louis in her lap and placing a sweet kiss on her sleeping baby brother's head. Charlotte's love for her younger brother was on display again in portraits from Louis' christening in 2018. While everyone else looks at the camera and smiles, the proud big sister is focused only on Louis as she lovingly gazes at her baby brother and adorably holds his hand.

These days, Louis loves to copy Charlotte's every move. William recently revealed that the family loves to play music in the morning and the kids dance around the house. "Charlotte, particularly, is running around the kitchen in her dresses and ballet stuff and everything," the proud dad said. "She goes completely crazy with Louis following her around trying to do the same thing."

A Special Locale

While the majority of the Cambridge family's Christmas card photos were taken at their country home, Anmer Hall, this year's was snapped while they were on a private vacation in Jordan. The country holds significance for Kate as she lived in Jordan for two years as a child when her father worked for British Airways. The mom of three likely wanted to share those childhood memories with her own children. According to a friend, Kate "desperately" wants normality for her kids, and family trips are a big part of that. "She wants to emulate her upbringing, living in the countryside with a close-knit family," a friend of the royal previously told PEOPLE. "She desperately wants that normality for her own kids."

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