Kate Middleton may have used Louis bike photo to ‘dismiss’ Harry’s Oprah claim

Kate Middleton may have been sending a "barbed message" to Prince Harry with a photo marking her youngest child's birthday, a royal expert claims.

Prince Louis turned three on Friday, and to celebrate his parents released a sweet picture of him taken on his first day of nursery school.

It's understood the Duchess – a budding photographer – took the snap of her son, who is seen gripping the handlebars of his bike as he appears ready to cycle off to nearby Willcocks Nursery School.

But in a new column for news.com.au, Australian commentator Daniella Elser has speculated there could be a secret message behind the photo aimed at Harry.

While the Cambridges have released plenty of photos of their children engaging in typical childhood activities, it's the first time one's been photographed riding a bike – and Ms Elser is adamant it's for a reason.

"The unavoidable conclusion is that the Duchess just might be sending her brother-in-law Prince Harry a barbed message here," she writes.

During he and wife Meghan Markle's bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey in March, Harry was asked what "delights" him about his new life as a private citizen in California.

"I guess the highlight for me is sticking (Archie) on the back of a bicycle in his little baby seat and taking him on bike rides which is something I was never able to do when I was young," he replied.

This doesn't seem to be borne out by the facts, Ms Elser writes, given there are a number of photos of young Harry riding a bike with his dad and brother.

"Therefore, it could be argued that the Duchess is highlighting that perhaps Harry has been indulging in a certain historical revisionism, something which the inhabitants of Kensington Palace did not miss."

She adds that the wholesome snap of Louis with his bike could also be read as a refutation of Harry's characterisation of Palace life as "toxic", showing that royal children in fact lead normal lives.

Paparazzi photos of Kate and William and their kids are rare, despite reports that the family takes regular trips to the "outside world" like local parks and shops.

"Sadly, little Archie faces a vastly different future," she writes, referring to the fact that Meghan was snapped taking her son to his Montecito preschool within an hour of Louis' birthday portrait dropping.

"In the case of Louis and his wheels today, the underlying meaning seems clear cut: That the normal things that Harry wanted – such as the opportunity for his kids to grow up without the intrusion of the media – were always within his reach," Ms Elser concludes.

"That in trading Windsor for Montecito, he was in fact giving up an excellent chance to enjoy the very same freedoms that he so clearly wants for his own family."

Kensington Palace has been contacted for comment.

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