One week from today, Prince George hits double digits, turning 10 years old and stepping more and more each year into his destiny as a future king. Though George’s parents, the Prince and Princess of Wales, are focused on giving him and his younger siblings Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis as normal a childhood as possible—at least as normal as can be expected when living in the royal fishbowl—George is aware he will one day be king, People reports, a fact he learned back in 2020, biographer Robert Lacey previously reported. (Depending on the time of year, George would have either been six or seven years old.) The conversation was a “controlled moment of their choice,” Lacey wrote, “reflecting William’s unhappiness at the haphazard fashion in which the whole business of his royal destiny had buzzed around his head from the start.”
Per The Mirror, “William has not revealed to the world how and when he broke the big news to his son,” Lacey writes. “Maybe one day George will tell us the story himself. But sometime around the boy’s seventh birthday in the summer of 2020, it is thought that his parents went into more detail about what the little prince’s life of future royal ‘service and duty’ would particularly involve.”
That said, children’s wear designer Amaia Arrieta, whose clothes all three of the Wales kids have worn for years, tells People “I think George has known almost from the beginning. He has always had a more prominent role—there have been many events with his late great-grandmother or great-grandfather when it was just him, and his siblings weren’t there. I think they must have had that conversation very early on.”
Back in 2016, William opened up to the BBC about when he and Kate would tell George about his future: “There’ll be a time and place,” he said. “Right now, it’s just a case of keeping a secure, stable environment around him and showing as much love as I can.”
A Palace insider speaking to People says “I am sure [William and Kate] are making George aware in the best way they can. And not making it too burdensome.”
George is being raised in a different manner than heirs to the throne before him—including William himself—and much of the change comes down to Kate, People reports: “Those children look pretty happy with life,” a Palace source says. “A lot of it is the stabilizing normality Kate brings—and that’s how she grew up. William absolutely loves it.”
William and Kate “consciously set out to achieve a sense of normality,” a source close to the family tells People. It is worlds apart from the raising of King Charles, who was left for months on end with his grandmother and nannies while his mother, Queen Elizabeth, went on long tours. “You can’t see this couple doing that,” a source close to the royal household says of William and Kate.
Quite the opposite: When he was as young as nine months old, George accompanied his parents to New Zealand and Australia, a move that followed a precedent set by Princess Diana with William himself. “Bringing William was what made it really different,” says Jane Connors, author of Royal Visits to Australia. “There was a huge amount made of Diana being a breath of fresh air and [so] modern. It was enormous.”
Though William’s childhood was a step closer to the “normalcy” that now envelopes George, Charlotte, and Louis, William’s upbringing was “heavily marred by his parents’ unhappy marriage and the unwanted attention of photographers, prompting bids for his three children to have privacy during their day-to-day lives,” People reports.
“[When he] went off to school, it was like a circus,” royal expert Ingrid Seward says of William. “The poor little boy had to do [photo calls]. Thankfully, it is much more private today.”
As he prepares to reach this milestone birthday next week, George—who, People reports, may seem shy compared to Charlotte and Louis—is “a cracking lad,” a close family friend tells the outlet. Of the future king, Arrieta says “I think George knows the drill by now. You can see he’s really grown into it and looks more relaxed than ever.”
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Rachel Burchfield is a writer, editor, and podcaster whose primary interests are fashion and beauty, society and culture, and, most especially, the British Royal Family and other royal families around the world. She serves as Marie Claire’s Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor and has also contributed to publications like Allure, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar, InStyle, People, Vanity Fair, Vogue, and W, among others. Before taking on her current role with Marie Claire, Rachel served as its Weekend Editor and later Royals Editor. She is the cohost of Podcast Royal, a show that was named a top five royal podcast by The New York Times. A voracious reader and lover of books, Rachel also hosts I’d Rather Be Reading, which spotlights the best current nonfiction books hitting the market and interviews the authors of them. Rachel frequently appears as a media commentator, and she or her work has appeared on outlets like NBC’s Today Show, ABC’s Good Morning America, CNN, and more.
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