Culture & Exploration

Unique lives of royal kids celebrated in vintage photos

From everyday outings to noble affairs, a look at how children around the world have prepared for the throne. Wednesday, 8 May

By Sydney Combs

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex in Britain, announced the birth of their healthy, baby boy in early May. At seven pounds and three ounces, the baby is now seventh in line to the British throne—destined to be crowned king if his grandfather, uncle, three cousins, and father do not or cannot accept the position. The Duke and Duchess are still deciding on a name.

The birth marks the first multiracial baby for the British monarchy in more than 200 years, arguably dating back to Queen Charlotte who historians believe was of African descent.

As the Windsor family grows and modernises, monarchies around the world are also reassessing old traditions. For instance, last week the world’s oldest continuous dynasty passed reign from father-to-son in Japan—the first time in 200 years where a new era begins within the former emperor’s lifetime. The UK itself is readdressing old norms, passing a law in 2013 that allows first-born girls to ascend to the throne. 

For children born into these worlds of politics and pageantry, royal responsibilities sometimes conflict with childhood. In the mid-19th century, British princess Victoria was engaged at 14 to Prince Frederick William of Prussia for geo-political reasons. Today, the lives of young royals are more autonomous and private, but official duties wait for no future monarch. Prince George, who is the five-year-old son of Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, and third in line to the throne, is already accompanying his parents on royal tours abroad.

As for the newest royal, his only job now is to rest and prepare for a life of royal engagements. “I’m so incredibly proud of my wife … This little thing is absolutely to die for, so I’m just over the moon,” Prince Harry said at a press briefing shortly after the birth.

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