For any family, the birth of a baby is a momentous occasion and welcoming a new person into the world is one of life’s highlights. Most parents will spend the first few months getting used to sleepless nights, changing nappies and caring for their new arrival. Decisions have to be made as time progresses, too. Will the little one go to nursery? What will mum and dad’s parenting strategy be?
For Catherine and William, it is likely that similar questions will be crossing their minds as they spend their time getting used to their new baby boy. However, while Catherine and William share a lot of the same experiences with other new parents, Prince George will have a very different childhood compared to the average British toddler. It is inevitable that royal babies have very different life experiences, but how exactly will Prince George’s childhood compare to other royal babies in history?
During this century, Britain had four monarchs: George III, George IV, William IV and Victoria. Inevitably, a significant number of royal babies were born during this period. In fact, there were a total of 25 legitimate royal births during the 1800s.
Ever since the medieval period, there has been public scrutiny of royal births and babies and this can be seen by the rise in royal baby portraits in the 1500s. Even back then, the public was fascinated by who might be their future monarch and newspapers along with other media would report on royal births. During the 1800s, it was not much different. The way that royal births were announced to the public was practically set in stone by that point and tradition called for the firing of the guns and announcement on Buckingham Palace’s railings. News often spread by word of mouth before officials could make the announcements, however.
This was because it was tradition to have royal officials present; sometimes even up to 80 people would witness the birth. The idea was that they would be there to ensure that the baby was not swapped for another. This practice continued until 1948.
In terms of the royal baby’s upbringing, the 1800s were unsurprisingly very traditional. The reigning monarch would have very little to do with his or her child and most of the caregiving would be done by nannies and housekeepers. By Queen Victoria’s time, nurses and nannies would have complete reign and authority in the nursery. A royal baby’s childhood would consist of private tutors in the Palace; very few (if any) play dates with other children and virtually no contact with the ‘commoners’ of the outside world.
In the last fifty or so years, there have been around fifteen royal births. Queen Elizabeth had Prince Charles, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward. Perhaps most famously, Charles and Diana had William and Harry, of which William is second in line for the throne. Of course, the newest addition to the royal family was Prince George of Cambridge, who was born to William and Kate on 22nd July 2013.
Whilst the public interest in royal babies certainly has not abated, there has been a marked change in the way royalty is brought up. This can particularly be seen with Charles and Diana’s parenting style, which was relatively more ‘hands on’ than parenting styles previously. Diana in particular was famous for wanting to give her boys a normal childhood. This started with her being the first royal mother to give birth in a hospital, when previously it had been tradition to give birth at the palace. Diana also encouraged a more informal relationship with her kids and she was regularly spotted taking her children to school personally.
It is expected that this is something that will be carried on with Catherine and William. Reports have suggested that they both will be extremely hands on parents and have even decided not to employ a full time nanny. It has been confirmed that they will only rely on a housekeeper for help. This is actually quite unheard of for the royal family, which has always employed nannies and tutors to work in the nursery. It seems like William will also be a very involved father and just hours after the birth of Prince George, it was reported that he had already changed a nappy.
However, while Prince George is likely to have a much more normal childhood than royal babies from previous generations, he will still be undeniably royal. Private education is extremely likely and it would not be surprising if he went to Eton like his father did. Following that, a career in the army is traditional for royalty, so it is likely that he will follow in his father’s and his uncle’s footsteps in that respect as well.
Another difference with Prince George’s childhood is that he will have a lot of contact with Catherine’s parents (his other set of grandparents) as well. This is something that hasn’t been seen in the past and most families that marry into the royal family will put their familial ties aside. However, the Middletons have already played a big role in Prince George’s life and The Duchess of Cambridge is spending a lot of her time following the birth at her mother’s home.
Only time will tell as to how different Prince George’s childhood will be compared with his ancestors; but the generally feeling is that he will have a 21st century childhood as a 21st century prince. The christening is likely to take place during October this year and it will be interesting to see what christening gifts Prince George will receive. In 1903, another Prince with the name George was given a very elaborate silver gilt cup with a hand engraved message on it.
photo credits: Christopher Neve, Renaud Camus, UGArdener via photopin cc
Why would you say that in the last 50 years or so that their has been only 5 royal births? There has been many more than that. First of all Prince Charles was born in 1948 and is presently 64, then The Princess Royal who was born in 1950 and just turned 63. Then her Majesty the Queen has two more children, ALL undoubtedly royal.
Since then, all 4 of the queen’s children’s have become parents for a total of 8 grandchildren. Even if you discount Anne’s children because they are untitled (but still undoubtedly of royal blood) you have know reached a total of ten (or 12). Prince George is the third of Her Majesty’s greatgrandchildren which raises the total to eleven (or 15 in some eyes).
I have not even begun to count the many, many other royal children born to the brothers of King George VI and therefore the Queen’s cousins and the descendants who are also of royal birth even if they fall farther and farther from the throne of GB. In fact, a baby girl was born just last week to Lord Fredrick Windsor and his wife.
If you take a look at the famous balcony at Buckingham Palace in June after any Trooping of Colours you will see it overflowing with Her Majesty’s extended family. Many may be considered minor royals but they all have in common is the blood of Kings and Queens flowing through their veins
The term “royal birth” should be restricted to those born with the HRH. In the last 50 years that would mean The Earl of Wessex, The Duke of Cambridge, Prince George, Prince Harry, Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie for a total of six. If you include Lady Louise and Viscount Severn (HRH Prince and Princess under the 1917 Letters Patent) that would raise the total to eight. Peter and his daughters, Zara, and the children and grandchildren of Princess Margaret, the Gloucesters and Kents are NOT royal – they just have royal relatives and ancestry.
I can live with your definition but I would still count Lady Louise and Vicount Severn because they are entitled to the HRH title regardless of their parents’ decision to opt for a more low key approach. Any way you count it the article was wrong when it claimed a mere total of 5 royal births in the last “50 years or so”. First by including the names of Her Majesty’s two eldest children only and by the fact that the two so named are well out of the 50 year window. Under your criteria there have been a total of eight (8) and I would probably include the Duke of York as being over 50 but still close enough to count ( in the approx ” or so”) that makes a total of nine (9).
I wonder if the Kents, Gloucesters and the children of Princess Margaret would agree with your definition. Many are still in the line of succession and are required to ask Her Majesty for permission to marry for their marriages to be valid (a change that has not yet been approved under the recent proposed Succession Act). I have a feeling that at least a few may still consider themselves Royal even if you and I do not.
Actually, the article says “In the last fifty or so years, there have been around fifteen royal births” – not five. I would definitely include James and Louise in the “royal birth” category as they are male-line grandchildren and legally HRH. As far as the extended royal family, Peter and Zara have repeatedly asserted that they are NOT royal and Princess Margaret said the same of her children. The Gloucester and Kent families now lead very private lives and are probably grateful to not be royal!
They have seriously edited the article from its original form, that’s why it currently says 15 instead of 5 Royal births in the last 50 years or so. The original article also only listed the first 2 of the Queen’s children, the sons of the Prince of Wales and the newborn Prince George. That is what prompted my original comment.
They have also edited the section on the Royal births in the 1800’s. Downsizing from 50 to 25 legitimate Royal births.
Where they have come up with their exact count of 15, I am unsure but obviously the comments on this article have prompted RC and the author to to correct the multiple factual errors that were in the original article. We could debate the semantics of what exactly constitutes a “Royal birth” and if the Letters Patent of 1917 were intended to limit who was and was not considered “Royal”. On their face they simply define who is entitled to the style HRH and Her Majesty recently extended that style to both genders of the offspring of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. If she had not and the first child of Duke and Duchess had been born a girl then she would have been in direct line to inherit the throne with only the style of Lady X of Cambridge. Even without the title of HRH and Princess, this hypothetical female child would have been undoubtedly Royal.
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