Daddy’s boy: Prince William’s special bond with his son
Juliet Rieden looks at the special bond between three-year-old Prince George, the little boy charming the world, and Prince William, his besotted father.
Every parent wants to protect their child and help them grow and find their way, but despite protestations otherwise, Prince William and Prince George are not your average father and son. Perhaps a constant glimpse of himself at that age, tinged with an insider’s comprehension of exactly what lies ahead for his first-born, is at the heart of what appears to be a special and deeply personal bond between the two heirs (second and third in line) to the throne.
Like Prince William, George has been in the spotlight from conception, and like his own parents, Diana, Princess of Wales, and Prince Charles, William is at great pains to protect his son from that sometimes blinding glare. From the moment he strapped baby George into the back seat of the family car, donned his distance specs and drove his wife and newborn son home, it was clear William was going to be a seriously hands-on father. While his world may be one of palaces, carriages and regal pomp, William has been determined to keep things ‘normal’, claiming they are like every other loving family.
“Driving your son and your wife away from the hospital was really important to me,” he said afterwards. “I don’t like fuss, so it’s much easier to do it yourself.” And while normality – at least the sort of normal that a well-heeled Brit might enjoy – is the benchmark, William’s excitement at having his own family has been obvious and there’s no question that George has stolen his heart. “It is fantastic having a lovely little family and I am so thrilled,” he has said.
As George has grown from toygrabbing toddler to curious little boy who – yes – throws the odd tantrum, he has stolen the limelight everywhere we’ve seen him, be it in Australia and New Zealand, at his little sister’s christening, hosting President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle at home in Kensington Palace, with Gan Gan (aka Her Majesty The Queen) to celebrate her 90th birthday, or at a military airshow, where he looked like a textbook chip-off-the-old-block in a helicopter and ear muffs. Yet the young Prince has taken every step with his dad either holding his hand, carrying him or tenderly by his side.
William is used to playing the role of the protector as older brother to Harry, who was just eight when their parents separated and 12 when their mother died. Now, with his
“As a father, you realise how precious life is and it puts it all in perspective.”
own family to watch over, William’s parental pheromones have shifted into overdrive.
“I’m a lot more emotional than I used to be, weirdly,” he said in a recent TV documentary. “I never used to get too wound up or worried about things, but now the smallest little things, you well up a little more, you get affected by the sort of things that happen around the world or whatever a lot more, I think, as a father… you realise how precious life is and it puts it all in perspective. The idea of not being around to see your children grow up [is horrible].”
William’s charity work has shifted gear also, with issues such as bullying, youth homelessness and mental health joining his portfolio of work. In a newspaper article celebrating Father’s Day in the UK in June, William seized the opportunity to express how seriously he takes this new phase in his life.
“For me, it is a day not just to celebrate how fortunate I am for my young family, but to reflect on just how much I’ve learned about fatherhood and the issues facing fathers in all walks of life. In particular, it is a time to reflect on my responsibility to look after not just the physical health of my two children, but to treat their mental needs as just as important a priority.”
Prince George turned three on July 22, and with that a whole new chapter has begun to unfold. In an interview with the BBC, Prince William revealed that he had not yet told his son that he will be King one day.
It’s a big elephant in the room, but it’s easy to understand why William wants to hold off. Seasoned royal watchers tell me it is from the age of three onwards that royal children start to glean they are indeed not like everyone else, and some years later that reality bites with the realisation their future lives are already mapped out for them.
On his third birthday, though, Prince George was able to enjoy the limelight in blissful ignorance. And yes, Prince William and Mum, the Duchess of Cambridge, were right there by his side.
Left: A relaxed Prince George plays on the swing at the family’s home in Norfolk, in one of four photographs officially released to mark his third birthday. Top: Father and son at the Queen’s 90th birthday parade. Above: George entertains the Obamas.