Duchess of Cambridge/PA Wire
by Sarah Grossbart | Tue., 23 Apr. 2019 3:00 AM
Duchess of Cambridge/PA Wire
Between all the excitement surrounding the impending arrival of his little cousin and the chatter about Mom and Dad fighting with Uncle Harry and Aunt Meghan, you don't hear all that much about Prince Louis these days.
Which is mostly a good thing for England's tiniest prince.
While older siblings Prince George and Princess Charlotte spent a decent, if still limited, amount of their first year of life in the spotlight between official tours to Australia (George) and family holidays in the French Alps, plus portraits to mark Gan-Gan Queen Elizabeth II's milestone 90th birthday (Charlotte), royal watchers have only been able to lay eyes on little Louis a handful of times since his birth. He posed with sister Charlotte for photos marking her third birthday last May, attended his own christening two months later and appeared in pictures celebrating grandfather Prince Charles' in his 70th birthday and the family Christmas card.
And, of course, as fans eagerly anticipated, there were new photos to mark his first birthday today, because that's how Prince William and Kate Middleton have chosen to roll. The 37-year-old duchess wisely established a quid pro quo with the media years back: Her title-bearing offspring will gamely pose up for bigger events (think: Trooping the Colour) and release holiday and birthday portraits—often captured with Mom's trusty Canon camera—and in exchange mainstream press outlets won't publish unauthorized photos of the family.
The implicit understanding helps the Cambridges strike the ever-so-delicate balance they hope to achieve while bringing up their pint-sized heirs. They'll give royal watchers what they want—oh-so-cute pictures of England's 5-year-old future king and his younger siblings—thus maintaining interest in the monarchy, while still giving their kids a semblance of a regular childhood.
"William and Kate very much prioritize bringing up the children in as normal an environment as possible over anything else," a royal insider told Us Weekly. "They haven't lost sight of that."
Matt Porteous/PA Wire
Their strategy was initially questioned by those that had grown used to having unlimited access to every member of The Firm.
Just ahead of Charlotte's 2015 arrival, CNN's royals commentator Victoria Arbiter, daughter to the Queen's former press secretary Dickie Arbiter, questioned how long the married pair could continue keeping not quite 2-year-old George out of sight. "The biggest surprise, really, even though William and Kate are so private, is that he has been seen in public so rarely," she told E! News. "I know it seems daft, he is 21 months old. You don't want to take him to engagements and such just yet. But I think there is going to be a point where the British public are going to say, 'Hang on a minute, why aren't we seeing George?'"
The concern, she continued, was that the public might tire of the whole thing. "It is very sensible to keep George out of the spotlight for as long as possible, but you also are walking a tricky road—because the minute the British public becomes disinterested, that's when you start the slippery slope," she opined. "Because if they are not relevant anymore and people are not interested, then what is the point?"
Which, that may have been precisely the point. While William and Kate are well aware people will never stop being interested in sightings of their adorably polished heirs, they'd like to spare them the scrutiny and judgment that's been foisted upon their older relatives.
And, if anything, they've trended toward going even more private this go round. William and Kate opted not to bring Louis out for Christmas services in Sandringham and he was a no-show at both Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's vows and Princess Eugenie's October wedding to Jack Brooksbank. Reports suggested the parents didn't want to pull focus from either bride and groom on their most important of days—"Absolutely nothing must detract from the focus on the happy couple and [that] would," royal commentator and public relations pro Richard Fitzwilliams told UK's the Express—but presumably not having to entertain a wriggly baby during a lengthy church service was also a draw.
Yui Mok/PA Wire
As the even sparer heir to big brother George and sis Charlotte, Louis has the best chance of remaining under the radar. While he will always be a member of the royal family and expected at certain headlining events as he gets older, his position in the hierarchy is more akin to the Queen's eldest daughter Princess Anne. The 68-year-old still operates very much as a full-time royal, turning up at a reported 518 engagements last year, but she rarely makes headlines for the goings on in her personal life.
Louis could even one day opt for his own career outside of the royal sphere much like cousins Eugenie and Princess Beatrice.
And though that's not an option for George, whose biggest job promotion will sadly coincide with the loss of his father, it makes it even more important to William and Kate to give him a relatively carefree existence now.
While Charles has said his future was made crystal clear at the age of three when he watched his mom ascend to the throne, "With George they are trying to delay that moment of realization and give him normality before they thrust this on him," royal biographer Catherine Mayer told E! News of William and Kate's strategy. "But it will be, nevertheless, part of his upbringing both in terms of what he sees his parents and grandparents doing and probably quite soon a beginning of an understanding that he is in public life and what that means."
For now that means the requisite posing for 'tographers, as a young William once referred to them, on, say, the first day of school each term, but being allowed to flourish in peace once inside the walls of London's Thomas's Battersea, where he's studying subjects such as geography, French and math.
Though George, who has reportedly earned the nickname "P.G." amongst his peers, is ever the big man on campus, his classmates make it a point not to fawn over him.
Chris Jackson / Clarence House via Getty Images
"He's very popular and has lots of friends, and there's very little fuss made about who he is," a fellow Thomas's parent recently told Vanity Fair. "Either William or Kate do drop off, and they are always very friendly. William particularly loves to have a chat with some of the other parents and he works out with some of the mums at the Harbour Club after drop off. He's very chatty and amiable."
And though the family spends a bulk of their time at their four-floor Kensington Palace apartment, William having entirely embraced his role as a full-time royal, they make their escape to their country home in Norfolk whenever possible. There, thanks to an assist from cast-iron security gates and some 12-foot pines, George and Charlotte largely have the run of the 20,000-acre spread. "They have a walled garden with fruit orchards and vegetable plots," a local told the magazine, "and George and Charlotte are always outside helping dig or plant something."
Soon Louis could be toddling right along with him. William and Kate may have already had their hands full running man-to-man defense with their eldest, they had no trouble slotting little Louis right into their growing family.
The Duchess of Cambridge at Kensington Palace
At an Anzac Day service at Westminster Abbey just days after his arrival last April, William turned in this report: "Sleeping's going reasonably well so far. So, he's behaving himself, which is good."
And this time around, the future king was able to largely avoid any new dad jitters. At a February "Future Dads" session run by the Future Men charity, the duke, 36, spoke about how much he struggled getting George in and out of his clothes for diaper changes in the early days, the hardest bit being "the buttons," reports Us Weekly. "It's very daunting how tiny they are when they first arrive," he admitted. "They are so fragile, tiny little fingers and toes. You do feel like if you move them around too much, they are going to break, but they don't. Wait until they're 9 months, and they'll be off."
That much has proven true with little Louis. By the time he was celebrating his nine-month birthday this January, Kate was telling those gathered outside Dundee, Scotland's new V&A Museum that he was already a "fast crawler."
And come March, he'd landed on his feet. "Louis just wants to pull himself up all the time," she told a group of fellow parents during a visit to Henry Fawcett Children's Centre. "He has got these little walkers and is bombing around in them."
And then there's that other key milestone, of much importance when raising a growing royal. While visiting RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus last December, Kate shared that Louis was perfecting his princely wave. It's a move that goes hand-in-hand with the charming smile he showed off in November's portraits with his extended clan. With a little assist from nanny Maria Borrallo and her array of silly faces, Louis was "so well behaved" during the session, a source shared with Us Weekly. "He is the most adorable, placid little boy you will ever meet!"
All the better to greet his adoring subjects, who are quite anxious to watch him grow up.
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