The queen was educated at home, in keeping with royal tradition. But she sent her own children to boarding schools, and Charles and Diana did the same with William and Harry — choosing Eton, one of the most prestigious boys’ schools in the country.
“William’s childhood was normal by upper-middle-class standards — private schools, expensive holidays, McDonald’s in a smart part of town as opposed to a grotty part of town,” said royal historian Robert Lacey. “I think, really, one is going to see more of the same.”
Lacey said Kate’s middle-class background will also help ensure her son gets a broader world view than some of his royal predecessors. The baby’s maternal grandparents, Carole and Michael Middleton, are self-made millionaires who run a party-planning business from the village of Bucklebury, west of London.
“From Buckingham Palace to Bucklebury — these are the two elements that will be in this child’s upbringing,” Lacey said.
Lacey noted that on Kate’s side the baby prince had “a grandfather who started off dispatching aircraft from Heathrow Airport and a grandmother who started out as a flight attendant and grew up on a council estate, who came from coal-mining stock in Durham” in northern England.
“That is all funneling through,” he said.
William’s childhood normality was possible because the palace struck a deal with the media: privacy in exchange for a number of agreed-upon photo opportunities at birthdays and during school holidays.
Seward said Kate and William will try to arrange a similar deal for their son. “When they have got time to think, they will have to do some kind of deal with the press,” she said. “In return for some really beautiful photographs, they will be left alone.”
British media adhered to the agreement while William and Harry were children. But once they reached adulthood, all bets were off. Photos soon appeared of Prince Harry on drunken nights out, or wearing a Nazi outfit to a costume party. Tabloid reporters were also secretly hacking the mobile phone voice mails of royal aides to get scoops.
The revelation of the scale of that illegal eavesdropping — on celebrities, politicians and crime victims, as well as the royals — horrified the British public and chastened the rambunctious press, although that may be a temporary state of affairs.
Palace officials still have some sway over newspaper editors. When they complained about photos of William and Kate walking on a beach near their home in Wales, British newspapers did not run them.
The foreign media is much harder to control, as the palace learned when an Italian magazine ran topless pictures of Kate taken during a holiday in France.
Still, Lacey points out, the media scrutiny can cut both ways.
This baby will be the first future monarch to grow up in the era of Twitter, Facebook and other social media, giving him “an incredible insight into how the country and population he is supposed to represent live and breathe,” Lacey said.
“In the Middle Ages, we have legends of idealistic princes who would dress in ordinary clothes and go out into the streets of town after dark to see how their subjects lived. The electronic media, for all their hazards, do offer this new dimension to an heir.”
While Kate and William get to know little George away from the media frenzy that surrounded his birth, there is one royal appearance on the horizon: The new parents are expected to soon choose a photographer for the baby’s first official portrait.