One year and still no public meltdown.
Prince George, the privately rambunctious but publicly well-behaved first child of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and heir to the British throne, turns 1 today, and so far, in virtually all of his public appearances he’s been placid, content, curious, affectionate and tantrum-free.
There are no big public birthday parties planned, and no special traditions seem to require a particular gift for a royal 1-year-old.
“Maybe a silver spoon,” said Chandra Turner, executive editor of Parents magazine, which is hosting its own celebration of Prince George’s birthday on its Parents.com website, with a “how to” theme, including instructions for crafting a gold paper crown.
Paper crowns will probably not be present at George‘s birthday party at Kensington Palace, said to be a low-key affair with tea and cake, Kate and William have made it clear they want his upbringing to be as normal as possible, with play dates and lots of family time. Initially, the couple wanted to spend the first year taking care of him themselves, but it wasn’t long before they realized they needed help. Now, George has a “super-nanny,” Maria Teresa Turrion Borralo, professionally trained in child development -- and high-speed driving, self-defense and paparazzi evasion.
No doubt she‘ll take quick evasive action if George starts to get cranky in public. Behind the scenes, he has bath-time tantrums, according to People magazine, and he is “noisy, ravenous and destructive,” according to August’s Vanity Fair cover story. But what baby doesn’t cry -- especially when his hair is being shampooed - and doesn’t eat or doesn’t swipe at things?
“This is the age when their emotions are starting to take hold and they are so intense, whether positive or negative,” said Christina Groark, associate professor and co-director of the Office of Child Development at the University of Pittsburgh. “The laughter of an early toddler is so contagious and funny because it’s intense and powerful, but they don’t have the self-regulation, so the negative carrying on can be a real challenge.”
His father, Prince William -- who was reportedly quite a handful himself, nicknamed “Billy the Basher” in nursery school -- said Thursday that his son, who was photographed at a polo match toddling along with his mother, is “charging around opening doors” and is at “his most vocal at 3 a.m.”
“I think they’re handling it really well,” said Ms. Turner. “There will be a lot of expectations and pressure on him over the course of his lifetime. He’ll have to learn humility. It’s hard for any parent but an enormous task for someone in the public eye.”
Plenty of companies are trying to cash in on the public’s interest in the royal baby. Out last week: “Happy Birthday, Royal Baby!” by Martha Mumford, a picture book about a royal birthday party with games such as “pass the peacock” and “pin the tail on the corgi.”
There’s even a website called WhatPrinceGeorgeWore.com, which documents every outfit he wears in public -- during the Australia trip, a pair of Rachel Riley overalls, and a white smocked sailboat romper suit by Les Petites Abeilles sold out almost immediately.
So far, George has been nothing but a huge PR boost for the royal family. Kate and William’s official tour of Australia with George in tow was a huge success, yielding numerous adorable photos of the royal baby petting various stuffed animals (“Bilby,” a marsupial, and a giant stuffed wombat) and eating his mother‘s hair. Royal protocol dictated that two heirs not travel together, but it had been breached 29 years before when Princess Diana and Prince Charles took William on their Australian trip. It was George’s first official public appearance since his October christening, and the British media, quick to seize on anything resembling a milestone, took note.
“A lifetime of royal duty for Prince George began on the rain-soaked tarmac of Wellington Airport,” the Daily Telegraph solemnly reported, adding that the baby prince looked “contented and fresh, if a little chilly with his bare legs.”
Those bare legs are gloriously chubby -- as a 1-year old baby’s should be -- although the ravenous royal appetite has produced “an extra fat roll,” Kate told 17-year-old Shannon Hunt while visiting Ayres Rock in Australia. But George is still not big enough to fit into his Spider-Man pajamas, the Duchess noted at another appearance back in Britain.
And he should be getting a good workout on his new Jupiduu “Blue Whale” slide, purchased on Amazon.UK from a German company.
How do we know this? Because the company emailed a press release to the media Thursday, recounting how it discovered that the order was from Kensington Palace. “After further research in various tabloids, the identity of the person placing the order became clear, and there were more indications that the Jupiduu slide is destined for the little heir to the throne, as he is the only baby in the palace at the moment,” said Ken Buschmann, the company’s founder.
No confirmation was forthcoming from Kensington Palace, but if the latest rumors are true, George won‘t be the only baby there much longer.
Mackenzie Carpenter, firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1949 or on Twitter @MackenziePG.