The childhood of King George
Not yet a week old, the tiny heir to the British throne has already caused a frenzy with his arrival. So what will his life be like?
No ordinary life: The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their newborn son, Prince George, leaving St Mary’s Hospital in London on Tuesday. Photograph: Scott Heavey/Getty Images
George Alexander Louis Windsor will suffer for the want of nothing in life; but his existence in the gilded cage that is the British royal family will bring with it its own challenges.
Unlike his father, William, the new arrival can expect a more rounded upbringing than has been offered to any previous heir to the throne, even if it is one still blessed with privilege.
His father was not blessed with such a childhood, growing up in the fractious relationship that existed between his own parents, Prince Charles and Princess Diana, and their later separation and divorce.
However, Diana set down a few rules that will, undoubtedly, be followed now, believing that her children needed to get as many hugs as could be offered in the day.
It was not always so.
Prince Charles became the first royal to be sent to school outside Buckingham Palace, first to Cheam Preparatory School and later to Gordonstoun, which he loathes still to this day.
His eldest son, William, followed in his footsteps, though the school chosen – Mrs Mynors’s Nursery School in London – had all of the softer frills that were expected by Diana, who had looked after other children in such places.
Prince George’s first day in preparatory, or “prep” school will occur in late August 2018 when he is five, as required by the British education system.
Steep learning curve
However, British children normally start nursery school from the first September after their fourth birthday, though this may be a steep challenge for a July baby.
Whenever it happens, it will be a day that – if the Cambridges can control matters – will be kept hidden from the cameras. They have shown that they recognise that the royals need the press, but only up to a point.
At 13, William went to Eton. It is a route that is likely to be followed by his son, if only because, whatever else his parents will try to do, he remains part of the British Establishment.
Nineteen British prime ministers have gone to Eton, or “Slough Grammar” as it has been nicknamed; though Kate went to the co-educational but equally upmarket Marlborough College, so that is likely to feature on the shortlist when they get around to thinking about such matters.
Unlike other British parents, who face months, and sometimes years, of worry about where their children will attend school, it can be assumed that they will not have trouble getting young Windsor accepted to the establishment of their choosing.
Once he has finished secondary school, the heir to the throne will embark on his university years from 2032, perhaps at the University of St Andrews, in Scotland, where his parents met during their own college days.
However, there is the possibility that the Scots may no longer be part of the United Kingdom by then, even if next year’s independence referendum fails to win a majority.
For those fascinated by the British royal family it is as well that they enjoy the current, often frenzied, coverage of the royal birth that has kept them glued to their televisions over recent days, while it infuriated many others.
The next chapter will be long delayed.
It will be a generation, at least, before the baby Prince George produces his own heir, and stands a proud new father outside the Lindo wing of St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington.
Indeed, it could be longer than 30 years since both men and women in Britain continue to marry later, putting off the day when children might arrive.
How will Prince George’s life compare with those of baby boys born around the world this week?
Under China’s one-child policy, the arrival of a new baby is a huge event. The most popular names for baby girls in China are Jing Jing, which translates roughly as “quiet”, and Xue, meaning “snow”. The biggest question for Chinese parents regarding newborns is whether to buy imported milk powder or to use domestic formula, which has been the focus of food-safety scandals.