Princess Charlotte's birthday portrait reveals Kate Middleton's love for a 5,000 year-old furniture staple we're so into

This going-beyond-retro furniture is a fixture in modern America, too

Kate Middleton
(Image credit: Alamy)

The Prince and Princess of Wales marked their daughter Charlotte's birthday this week by sharing her photo with the world on their Instagram account. 

As lovely as the 8-year-old Princess looks, we confess that we were somewhat distracted by the chair she is sitting on: a white wicker seat in a style that's been a fixture on American porches for decades. This sturdy but stylish weave is used to create indoor and outdoor furniture for millennia – in fact, it's said to be the oldest furniture making method in history, at least 5,000 years old. 

And while we can't know for sure where this photo was taken, these family photos are usually taken by Catherine at home so we suspect that, like us, Catherine is a fan. And, of course, experts agree. Not caught the white wicker bug yet? This is all you need to know.

'White wicker furniture has been a staple in American decorating for many years. Its traditional look is both iconic and timeless – and while it may go through cycles of popularity – it never truly goes out of fashion,' says Raf Michalowski, the president of Meble Furniture

Despite wicker existing for millennia (and wicker baskets particularly), it did not become a part of the modern American home until the late 1950s and 1960s. As Raf explains, this weave has fluctuated in popularity since the '60s; however, in recent years, the retro staple has made a comeback – and with Prince William and Princess Catherine's endorsement – we're sure it's going to stay at the top of design trends for good. 

'White wicker, for me, is enduringly stylish,' says Homes & Gardens' Editor in Chief Lucy Searle. 'It sits just as comfortably alongside other white furniture as it does against dark wood, which makes it so easy to include in different schemes and different rooms over a number of years.

'Outdoors, wicker simply isn't practical, however – though white wicker-look backyard furniture in weather-resistant materials looks gorgeous on a porch, with cushioning and throw pillows.'

Raf Michalowski

Raf Michalowski is the president of Meble Furniture, a leading e-commerce retailer of contemporary furniture that has operated in New York for over 15 years. His role allows him to observe changing trends and track which furnishings are in demand nationwide. 

Madeaux green and white trellis design wallpaper with striped rug and white wicker sofa

(Image credit: Madeaux by Richard Smith)

Alongside its enduring good looks, Raf says wicker furniture is beloved for its versatility. It tends to be lightweight, which makes it easy to carry around your backyard or patio, whether you want to bathe in the sun (or avoid it!) or create extra seating when hosting. However, as the expert explains, white wicker works best in areas where it won't be exposed to direct sunlight over long periods. This will prevent damage and encourage the white to look better for longer.

We've found an almost-identical match to the chair in Prince William and Princess Catherine's home (below). But what do we need to know before investing?

Or, if you want to achieve a similar look but don't want to spend $1500, this set from The Home Depot is a good-value alternative. 

The pros and cons of white wicker

White wicker is lightweight, versatile, and royal-approved – however, there are some cons to consider before buying. As Raf previously mentioned, the furnishing is not suitable for areas exposed to direct sunlight over long periods, as this can damage the color and material. Plus, as much as we hate to admit it, these pieces are not always the most comforting over long periods. 

'Wicker is not always as comfortable as other outdoor furniture (such as wood or metal) due to lack of cushioning. Therefore, this may not be ideal for relaxing in the sun all afternoon,' he says. 

To keep your wicker up to date, he recommends updating your piece regularly with new cushions or accessories. It can also be worth repainting your wicker furniture to ensure it looks its best for the seasons ahead. 

Now is the time to make the investment. 

Megan Slack
Head of Celebrity Style News

Megan is the Head of Celebrity Style News at Homes & Gardens. She first joined Future Plc as a News Writer across their interiors titles, including Livingetc and Real Homes, before becoming H&G's News Editor in April 2022. She now leads the Celebrity/ News team. Before joining Future, Megan worked as a News Explainer at The Telegraph, following her MA in International Journalism at the University of Leeds. During her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing, she gained writing experience in the US while studying in New York. Megan also focused on travel writing during her time living in Paris, where she produced content for a French travel site. She currently lives in London with her antique typewriter and an expansive collection of houseplants.