Prince George of Cambridge is a little cutie – and a well-dressed little cutie at that. But eagle-eyed royalty spotters have noticed that he never seems to wear pants, only shorts. Why do his parents, the very fashionable Kate Middleton and Prince William, dress him like that? Well, like a lot of royalty-related things, it’s all to do with class.
Prince George was born into the highest class in the land – as the son of Prince William, who is the grandson of Queen Elizabeth II, he’s third in line to the British throne. Barring disaster, he’ll be King one day. But for now, he’s just a sweet little kid in shorts.
Any parent of a young child will sing the praises of shorts. Not only are they comfortable for kids, but perhaps more importantly they’re also easy to wrestle onto a hyperactive toddler. However, Prince George’s parents dress his legs only in shorts, even in the winter.
And they certainly don’t do this because of lack of time or money. Indeed, when Prince George was born in London in July 2013 people were virtually lining up to give him gifts. Plus, like pretty much all royals, he has a nanny to take care of his day-to-day dressing.
George tends to wear more affordable shorts than perhaps might be expected of a royal, though. In fact, he’s more often than not seen in high street brands. And that’s just like his mother Kate, who frequently wears dresses that one doesn’t need to be an aristocrat to afford.
And of course those with a good knowledge of British royal family history will recollect that Princes William and Harry, when they were children, wore shorts almost all the time as well. Perhaps the royals are just sticking to what they know?
Well… essentially, yes, they are. But it goes further than that. The wearing of shorts by young aristocratic boys is actually a tradition that has a long, long history. It dates all the way back to the 16th century, in fact.
Indeed, back in those days boys were clothed in dresses similar to those their sisters would wear. This was done simply because children were unable to unfasten the more complex trousers that men wore back then. In addition, dresses were also considered to better fit a young boy’s growing body.
Prince George was, in fact, christened in a dress! It was a carefully made replica of a 163-year-old garment once owned by Queen Victoria. Indeed, that dress had been worn in the baptisms of many royal children both male and female. They include Prince Charles, the Queen, and George’s father, Prince William.
Historically, when a boy graduated from dresses to breeches or trousers, it was called a “breeching.” And kids of the time apparently loved it. Indeed, it seems it was like a birthday party to them! Replace “dresses” with “shorts” and you’ve got an idea of what influences Prince George’s choice of attire right now.
In January 2017 Harper’s Bazaar decided to probe a little deeper about the nature of these rules. They contacted William Hanson, a British expert in etiquette, to explain it all. “It’s a very English thing to dress a young boy in shorts,” he told the magazine.
“Trousers are for older boys and men,” he continued, “whereas shorts on young boys is one of those silent class markers that we have in England. Although times are slowly changing, a pair of trousers on a young boy is considered quite middle class – quite suburban.”
“And no self-respecting aristo or royal would want to be considered suburban, even the Duchess of Cambridge,” he added. “The British upper set are always keen to hold on to tradition. And this one also silently marks them out from ‘the rest.’” So, are Kate and her family just snobs, then?
Actually, the modern royals are much, much less snobby than their historical counterparts. Kate isn’t a royal or even aristocratic by birth, having been born to a flight attendant and a flight dispatcher. So it’s more likely that she and William simply repeat family traditions without even thinking about them.
After all, the royal family follow plenty of odd traditions that the British public tend to just go along with. For example, a bagpiper plays outside the Queen’s window at 9:00 a.m. every day that she’s in her royal residences. At least Prince George doesn’t have to deal with that.
In May 2015 George gained a sister, Princess Charlotte of Cambridge. So what did he wear to her christening? Shorts, of course. But his whole outfit was a replica of an ensemble his father Prince William had once worn. Because once you’re a royal pretty much everything you do is weighed down with history.
And Prince George certainly doesn’t seem to have expressed any displeasure at being dressed in shorts every day. If anything, he seems to like to show them off. And so he should, as royal admirers everywhere like to snap them up for their own children.
In fact, just like his mother, Prince George is very much a trend-setter. All of the shorts he’s seen wearing, be they cheap or expensive, be they made in Britain or elsewhere, have sold out incredibly quickly. What’s more, some small retailers have been given a new lease of life after George was seen in their clothes.
The media has occasionally pointed out that Prince George’s legs must get cold, though, as he wears his shorts even in the dead of winter. However, when it’s properly chilly – and Prince George has already visited some pretty freezing climates with his parents – he wears a long coat or sweater and big socks to keep him warm.
In fact, it’s possible that Prince George will be in shorts for a few more years at least. That’s because many upper-class British schools have shorts as part of the uniform for boys. And there’s little doubt that Prince George will be attending one of those schools. But it still remains to be seen what he’ll dress like when he’s allowed to pick his own clothes.