Prince George Has One More Year Until the Way He Travels Changes Dramatically

The heir to the throne turns 11 this month, but on his 12th birthday, royal protocol snaps firmly into place for the future king and his travel plans.

Prince George
(Image credit: Getty)

Later this month—on July 22, to be exact—Prince George will turn 11 years old. Though it’s not an age one would think of when one thinks of a milestone birthday, it is significant, though only to those enmeshed in royal protocol: when George turns 12 in one year’s time, he will have to stop flying with his father, Prince William, to help ensure the future of the monarchy, per The Mirror

Prince William and Prince George at an event

Next summer will mark the end of William and George flying together, per royal protocol.

(Image credit: Getty)

Heretofore William—who is the first in line to the throne—has been able to travel freely with George and his other two children, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis, whom he shares with his wife, the Princess of Wales. But, as The Mirror writes, “There is an important royal custom in place to secure the future of the monarchy by restricting who can travel together on the same plane,” the outlet writes. William had to adhere to this rule, as did his father King Charles before him—once an heir to the throne turns 12, he or she is not allowed to ride with any other heirs to the throne.

Speaking on “A Right Royal Podcast,” Charles’ former pilot, Graham Laurie, opened up about this piece of royal protocol and how it affected a young William when he turned 12 in 1994: “Interestingly, we flew all four—the Prince [Charles], the Princess [Diana], Prince William, and Prince Harry, up until Prince William was 12 years old,” he said. “After that, he had to have a separate aircraft and we could only fly all four together when they were young with the written permission of Her Majesty [Queen Elizabeth]. When William became 12, he would fly normally in a 125 from Northolt, and we would fly the 146 out with the other three on.”

Prince William and Prince George together

When George turns 12 he, like his father William before him and William's father Charles before him, will have to fly apart from any other heir to the throne, so as to ensure the future of the monarchy should catastrophe strike.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

While this piece of royal protocol can be broken with the monarch’s permission, “it is discouraged since, in the event of a crash, the future of the monarchy would be immediately unstable,” The Mirror reports.

With past as prologue, that means that this rule will affect George in 2025, and will no longer be allowed to fly with his father. “However, it remains to be seen whether the young prince will continue to travel with his mother and siblings while his father uses a different plane, or if the second-in-line to the throne [George] will be the one to fly solo,” The Mirror writes.

Though, thankfully, plane crashes rarely happen in modern times, the royal family has sadly been impacted by air disasters—Prince Philip’s sister, Princess Cecile, died in a plane crash in 1937; Her late Majesty’s uncle Prince George, Duke of Kent died in 1942 in the same way, and her cousin, Prince William of Gloucester, died while competing in an air show in 1972.

Prince William and Prince George at an event

George turns 11 this month after marking a milestone birthday last summer.

(Image credit: Getty)

And, as The Mirror reports, it’s not the only travel rule that applies to the royal family and its royal protocol: the monarch always travels with a supply of blood and a doctor with him at all times. You can take that factoid to your next dinner party.

Rachel Burchfield
Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor

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.