When Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis were shown clapping for the camera outside their Georgian country house, Anmer Hall, fans were charmed. They were showing support for a very important national cause, and they looked cute doing it. But eagle-eyed fans also noticed something surprising about the young royals.
With the United Kingdom’s National Health Service staff working around the clock, the #ClapForOurCarers campaign took off immediately. It promoted national unity by encouraging citizens to take to their doorsteps or windows at a predetermined time to clap in honor of the NHS. People all across the UK obliged, including many celebrities, and many of the heartwarming moments were filmed or photographed.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and Kate Middleton, joined in by sharing the video of their children on their “Kensington Royal” social media platforms. They included the message, “To all the doctors, nurses, carers, GPs, pharmacists, volunteers and other NHS staff working tirelessly…thank you.” The video was well-received by royal fans.
“Everybody is doing their part, even the youngest royals,” wrote one Instagram fan. “This is just what I needed today!” Another commented, “Lovely children being taught to care.” One NHS staff member posted, “Thanks you! I’m an NHS worker and this means the world, I sobbed in the streets today hearing the claps and cheers from my neighbours!”
Overall, the personal touch of the video struck a better chord with the public than Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s Instagram message. The Sussexes went with a simple message of, “Thank you for all that you continue to do! Applauding you from across the pond.” They then added a host of clapping emojis.
Harry and Meghan’s message certainly looked impersonal in comparison to William and Kate’s, but also when compared to the messages put out by other members of the Royal family. The Queen posted a video in which clapping could be heard from Windsor Castle. Prince Edward and wife Sophie, the Earl and Countess of Wessex, posted a video where they clapped alongside their children.
In the case of William and Kate, the story of their family began in December 2012, when it was announced that a royal baby was on the way. St. James’ Palace announced that Kate was pregnant, and that William and the royal family were ecstatic. Seven months later, on July 22, 2013 His Royal Highness Prince George of Cambridge was born.
George became third in line to the crown, behind his grandfather Charles and father William. The British media wrote countless stories about George in his first year, but the highlight may have been Kate and William’s three-week tour of Australia and New Zealand. George met a kangaroo in Sydney named after him and it charmed the world.
In September 2014, Kensington Palace announced that Kate and William’s second child was on the way. Kate was unfortunately forced to cancel several official engagements due to a debilitating pregnancy sickness — Hyperemesis Gravidarum — that she also suffered while carrying George. However, by October the Duchess was able to attend events again.
Princess Charlotte was born on May 2, 2015 in London’s St Mary’s Hospital. Less than 10 hours after the birth, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge introduced their new baby girl to the world on the steps of the hospital. A few months later, Kate told ITV that, “It’s very special having a new little girl…I feel very, very lucky that George has got a little sister.”
In June 2016, the one-year-old Charlotte was pictured waving for the cameras at the Trooping the Color parade from Buckingham Palace’s balcony. However, in what is a traditional photo taken every year, Prince George made himself stand out in a way that captured the imagination of social media. He certainly lived up to his father’s billing as “lively.”
In a moment captured on camera and turned into a social media gif, little George did an amusing facepalm when William was told by the Queen to stand up for the crowds. William, who was kneeling with his son, immediately did as his grandmother instructed him to do. But George’s reaction was more rebellious, and the royal fans everywhere loved his cheekiness.
George’s sassy nature was on full display again a few months later. In September 2016 the Cambridges went on an eight-day official royal visit to Canada. Within minutes of stepping off the plane, George amusingly ignored a high-five greeting attempt from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
George and Charlotte were subsequently kept out of the public eye for much of the Canadian engagement. However, the Victoria Tourism Board revealed what the royal children had been up to. They tweeted that George and Charlotte visited the Beacon Hill Children’s Farm and enjoyed petting the goats.
Given that this was supposed to be a secret outing, the tourism board was quickly instructed to delete their tweet. However, the next outing was a public affair, with Charlotte pictured at a children’s party for military families. She was seen sitting on a large white dog, while she and George also played with balloons and bubbles.
Author Katie Nicholl gave an intriguing insight into Charlotte’s personality when she spoke to Entertainment Tonight in September 2019. She said Charlotte was feisty at nursery and had a few nicknames, one of which was Warrior Princess. “Apparently she earned that nickname because obviously she is a Princess, but she’s quite a tomboy,” said Nicholl.
“She loves climbing trees and she’s very much an adventurer, she was quite known for her feisty personality,” continued Nicholl. She also felt it was likely that Charlotte’s friends at nursery would know her as “Lottie”, which is what William and Kate call her at home. Kate accidentally revealed the cute nickname for her daughter during a trip to Ballymena in Northern Ireland, when speaking to a blogger.
The Cambridges had another important announcement to make in September 2017. Kensington Palace’s statement read, “Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are very pleased to announce that the Duchess of Cambridge is expecting their third child. The Queen and members of both families are delighted with the news.”
Once again, Kate’s health was a concern. “As with her previous two pregnancies, The Duchess is suffering from Hyperemesis Gravidarum,” continued the statement. “Her Royal Highness will no longer carry out her planned engagement at the Hornsey Road Children’s Centre in London today. The Duchess is being cared for at Kensington Palace.”
Prince Louis Arthur Charles of Cambridge was born on April 28, 2018 in St. Mary’s, the same hospital his two older siblings were born in. He became fifth in line to the throne, behind his grandfather, father and his older brother and sister. His place in the line of succession is ground-breaking, as he is the first male prince placed behind a female princess, due to the 2011 Perth Agreement.
In November 2019, Prince William spoke of the stresses of being a father of three. At a gala dinner honouring the 30th anniversary of a fundraising campaign for London’s Air Ambulance charity, he music legend Eric Clapton asked if he ever found the time in his busy schedule for hobbies. William responded, “With the children it’s quite hard to get the time off.” He then smiled and added, “Any free time I do get, I sleep!”
As the second in line to the throne, William is often busy with official engagements. But, as revealed by the Court Circular, the Royal Family’s official record of engagements, he made sure to time his return from a December 2019 trip to Kuwait and Oman perfectly in order to see his children before they went to bed.
In February 2020, William spoke to a primary school teacher prior to a Six Nations rugby match in Wales. He said that he and his family had just spent a week on a farm in Norfolk, tending to the birth of lambs. He revealed that the children took to it well, after some trepidation from Charlotte.
“We’ve been lambing with the children this week,” said William. “Charlotte wasn’t sure at first, but George was straight in there. Louis loves the tractors. They love seeing the lambs and feeding the lambs.” After this, the family returned to London in time for George and Charlotte’s new school term starting.
That same month, Kate appeared on the Happy Mum, Happy Baby podcast, hosted by Giovanna Fletcher. She emphasized how much she values time with her family. “With my own children, life now is so busy,” she admitted. “It’s so distracting and actually those simple things like watching a fire on a really rainy day provided such enjoyment.”
Kate said that, “Actually, I remember that from my own childhood. Doing simple things like going for a walk together.” She believed these simple pleasures are of paramount importance. She stated, “That’s what I really try to do with my children as well, as it totally strips away all the complications and pressures as a parent.”
Zoe Bonser, show director of The Baby Show, the U.K.’s largest parenting convention, told the the Express that Kate doesn’t follow all the royal parenting traditions in order to find her own style. “Kate also values quality family time and has broken some traditions – such as sending George to a mixed school and dropping George off at school herself,” she said.
Bonser continued, “Kate also had her mum to help in the days after the birth, rather than an army of staff.” She also noted how carefully Kate manages her children’s public appearances. “Kate values privacy and tries to keep the children away from the media apart from on more special occasions or events,” she said.
“Kate also takes pictures herself, giving her the freedom and power over what is used in public – and a chance to use her art skills,” Bonser added. However, she did acknowledge that Kate still obeys traditions as well. “For instance,” she noted, “the children are always dressed in traditional British clothing for public appearances and Kate is happy for them to appear in photo calls.”
Indeed, pictures and public appearances of the Cambridge children tend to highlight something that hardcore Royal fans have noticed for a long time. In their NHS video, George, Charlotte and Louis are dressed in casual attire, far removed from the formal wear they usually sport. Crucially, though, their clothes were strikingly similar to ones their parents have worn in the past.
Charlotte wears a striped navy and white top, which was extremely similar to one worn by Kate at a polo match when George was a toddler. While 23-month-old Louis sports a blue jumper with a check shirt underneath, and a pair of jeans. This is what his father William was wearing when he and Kate announced she was pregnant in 2012.
This was far from the first time a young royal had publicly worn a similar outfit to one from the past. It’s an important, and very steadfast tradition. As Jennifer Newman of Town & Country magazine wrote in January 2019, it serves, “the visual narrative of the British royal family, adorably harkening back to previous happy memories, and emphasizing continuity.”
As Newman points out, “For the British royal family, clothing is about much more than fashion. When Duchess Kate re-wears a piece multiple times, it signals her frugality as a future Queen. Or, when Duchess Meghan chooses to promote a brand like Outland Denim, which benefits victims of sex trafficking, it indicates a cause that is important to her.”
A particularly strong example of the tradition is Prince George dressing in ensembles that purposefully recall ones worn by his father William as a child. In 1984, at his younger brother Harry’s christening, Princess Diana dressed young William in a white collared shirt with blue piping and blue shorts.
At his younger brother Louis’ christening, 34 years later, George dressed in a virtually identical outfit to the one his father had worn. His shorts were navy, rather than blue, but the shirt was intentionally reminiscent of his father’s. Clearly the royals want the public to notice their reverence for family tradition.
In a Kensington Palace photo snapped in 1985, William is sitting on a rocking horse wearing a plaid shirt and navy blue shorts. In 2017, he and Kate dressed their son in a remarkably similar manner on an engagement during the royal family’s tour of Poland. It’s not the same shirt, but it is so similar that it simply must have been chosen to match William’s.
In 1984, a two-year-old William was brought to St. Mary’s Hospital to visit his newborn baby brother Harry. He wore red shorts and a white collared shirt with very distinctive red design across the chest. In 2015, two-year-old George attended his sister Charlotte’s christening wearing basically the same outfit.
In 2015, at the Trooping the Color parade, William was pictured in his full red military regalia. He’s holding George, who wears a light blue shirt and shorts combination. The photograph was a very faithful recreation of a photo of William in Prince Charles’ arms from the 1984 parade.
There was even a time when George wore a specifically commissioned recreation of a garment worn by his father. At his christening, William wore the Honiton christening gown. This was worn by 62 royal babies, after being originally made for Queen Victoria’s first child, Princess Victoria, in 1841. It was finally retired in 2004, after 163 years.
At this point, the Queen tasked her personal wardrobe advisor Angela Kelly with crafting an exact replica of the gown. She enlisted clothing makers from Britain and Italy in order to ensure the new gown was as perfect a recreation as possible. This is the gown that all of William and Kate’s children have worn at their christenings.