Being the future heir to the British throne hasn’t given Prince George any special treatment from the people around him.
Prince George, Prince William and Kate Middleton’s first child, just turned seven, and in what has become somewhat of a tradition, the royal couple has shared a couple of photographs of the young Prince, taken by his mother, to mark his birthday.
The images, taken by his mother Kate at their country home, Anmer Hall, where the whole family has been staying since March, show the carefree gap-toothed heir to the throne dressed very casually compared to his Peter Pan collar shirts of old.
In one of the pictures, the young royal is seen wearing a £10 camouflage T-shirt while in the other he’s in a £7.99 khaki polo shirt by Mango-his clothing choices reflecting every boy’s obsession at that age-helicopters and the military. The camouflage top that the Prince wears bears a striking resemblance to an army jacket that his father William wore when he was a young boy.
The photos capture the carefree smile on his face in a way only a mother can, a child unburdened by the future responsibilities of being king.
“George is an absolute pleasure to be around and that’s down to his parents,” says royal expert Katie Nicholl. “They’re not raising him to be spoilt or to have an inflated sense of his own importance. He doesn’t get special treatment just because he’s the future heir. They make a point of ensuring their three children feel equal and that they’re all treated the same.”
Prince William and Kate have always tried to give their children a normal life as much as they can, but it seems that Prince George is somewhat aware of the fact that he is different in some way from his sister Princess Charlotte and his brother Prince Louis, the youngest of the trio. Prince William felt the full weight of kingship from a very young age, so it is expected that he would want to somehow relieve his son of the same experiences and more carefully introduce him to the way his life is already set to pan out.
“I think George understands as William did from a very early age, that he’s different from his younger brother and sister and that he’ll have a different future,” says Katie. “After all, he gets taken away to do photoshoots with Her Majesty the Queen, so he must notice he’s been singled out.
“But I don’t think William and Kate have made a big thing of saying to George, ‘One day you will be King.’ They want to protect him from that moment, so it’s an idea that’s being introduced to him gradually. The true enormity of what his life will one day be isn’t something he’s fully aware of yet.”
William and Kate’s decision to play down the importance of the role he will have in the future is understandable, not wanting for him to go through the same suffocating sense of duty that lay ahead of him as his father did.
“As a young man, William really struggled with that notion of kingship. The realisation that he had no choice about which path his life would take, that he couldn’t become a doctor or a vet if he chose, weighed very heavily on him,” says Katie, who is the author of William And Harry: Behind The Palace Walls.
“He got treated differently from his younger brother. When the boys went for tea with the Queen Mother, William would get the first choice of sandwiches or cake. It was all about William. I think that’s why Diana overcompensated in terms of her affection for Harry because she was very aware that he didn’t get the same attention William got.”
In one of their recent engagements, when Kate and William announced the Royal Foundation’s £1.8million fund to support frontline workers and the nation’s mental health last week, the Duchess spoke about how important it is to ensure children don’t feel alone with their worries. She said, “Helping children to feel confident about seeking support can have a transformational impact on their lives.”
Along with her husband, not only are the two trying their best to shield George from the knowledge that he’ll one day devote his life to serving the nation, but they will also be there to answer any questions he has about his future role.
Some people believe that the royal couple chose Thomas’s Battersea for his early years of schooling because of its nurturing environment and the focus on “being kind”.
“There was quite a big fuss about George’s arrival at the school. The bulletproof glass was installed and the presence of protection officers sets him apart from his peers. His classmates were clearly very aware there was something different about him from the start. They know he’s a prince and they call him ‘PG’, which is short for Prince George.”
But being a future king hasn’t made him a target for bullying. “From what I’m told, he doesn’t get teased at school. He’s actually very popular,” says Katie. “Although he’s more introvert compared to his siblings, he’s an extremely kind little boy and has a gentle nature. He’s also very impressive on the football pitch and before lockdown, he was playing in an outside team regularly. The fact that he’s sporty and is a talented footballer has certainly boosted his popularity.”
For his seventh birthday, the future king spent it with his family in Norfolk, enjoying a small, family-only party. Details of the event are scarce, with fans only having found out that from all the gifts he received, a “really noisy” toy will have been among the selection, courtesy of his godmother Julia Samuel.
Julia, who was a friend of Diana, Princess of Wales, said, “I do to George what [Diana] did to us, which is give impossible toys that are really noisy and take a lot of making.”
Speaking on the podcast How To Fail With Elizabeth Day, she went on to say, “William then has to spend days putting all the machinery together, and it makes awful tooting noises and lights flashing and all of that… it makes George laugh.”
Describing George as “amazing”, she added, “He’s funny and feisty and cheeky and God she [Diana] would have loved him so much.”
While fans were raving about the similarities in the birthday photos between Prince George and his maternal uncle James Middleton, his great-grandmother the Queen and Prince Charles posted their congratulations on social media.
Royal photographer Matt Porteous, who took George’s third birthday portraits, praised talented Kate’s efforts, describing the new photos of her eldest child as “wonderful”.
The young Prince and some-day king got tons of well-wishes and birthday cards from fans all over the world, with his parents William and Kate thanking everyone on Instagram for “your very kind wishes on Prince George’s birthday”.