Royal baby: What it means to be born a prince in the 21st Century

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge gave their first son an £18,000 cottage on wheels for his second birthday

Maya Oppenheim
Thursday 26 April 2018 09:52 BST
Comments
Duke of Cambridge leads Princess Charlotte and Prince George to Lindo wing to meet new baby brother

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s baby will be welcomed into the world with more military showmanship and fanfare than others are privy to in their entire lives.

After Kate Middleton delivered her baby boy at St Mary’s Hospital in London on Monday, the fanatical royalists who waited outside with bated breath clapped, whooped and cheered.

Incredulous but excited journalists hurriedly scribbled into their notepads and cameras flashed.

In the days that follow diehard royal watchers will spill onto the streets to celebrate and there will even be a 62-gun salute at the Tower of London in honour of the birth and another 41-gun salute from Green Park near Buckingham Palace.

While it goes without saying that the above ritual and pomp wholly differs to that enjoyed by an average child, the birth of the royal baby raises many more complex questions about the wholly unique life chances and prospects enjoyed by royal progeny.

Royal well-wishers gather outside the Lindo Wing of St. Mary's hospital in London, Britain, 23 April 2018. Kensington Palace has announced that the Duchess of Cambridge is in the early stages of labour and is expected to give birth to her third child at the Lindo Wing in London. EPA/ANDY RAIN
Royal well-wishers gather outside the Lindo Wing of St. Mary's hospital in London, Britain, 23 April 2018. Kensington Palace has announced that the Duchess of Cambridge is in the early stages of labour and is expected to give birth to her third child at the Lindo Wing in London. EPA/ANDY RAIN (EPA)

Exempt from the Freedom of Information act but free to explore the Queen’s 770-odd-room palace, the royal prince will not have neither a run-of-the-mill childhood nor life. This lies in stark contrast to the more than half a million children now living in poverty in some parts of the UK.

Data from End Child Poverty published at the beginning of the year revealed there are now constituencies within the UK where more than half of children are growing up in poverty – compared to one in ten in the areas which possess the lowest child poverty rates.

“We know poverty has a huge impact on people’s lives and we also know that this child is going to have every possible luxury and care that they would wish for,” Graham Smith, chief executive of Republic, told The Independent.

“They are not going to be wanting for anything. We have seen that the royals have long and healthy lives. I don’t think that’s a coincidence given their privileged lifestyles.”

Here is a look at the education, healthcare, career and housing the healthy 8lbs 7oz baby boy the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge welcomed into the world on Monday is likely to experience.

Education

Throughout history, the royals have been home-educated by private tutors and governors rather than being submerged in the public domain. But this has changed in more recent years – with Prince Charles being the first heir to the British monarchy to complete a degree after graduating from Trinity College in 1970.

The newly born son, who is fifth in line to the throne, is likely to attend elite private schools and may even follow in his father Prince William’s footsteps and go to St Andrews University.

Sean Okeeffe, the editor of Royal Circular, a news site dedicated to the monarchy, said he expected the newly born royal tot would go to the same school as his older brother Prince George – who started at Thomas’s Battersea last September.

“I’m assuming that the new baby will go to the same school as Prince George,” he said.

The private primary school, which is just a few miles from his family residence in Kensington Palace, costs £6,110 a term and discourages children from having best friends. Its first rule is to “be kind”.

If the newly born prince were to go to his sister Princess Charlotte’s nursery – he would be close to the capital’s science and natural history museums which the nursery’s pupil’s regularly visit, according to an Ofsted report.

All things considered, he is likely to be able to experience a smorgasbord of educational privileges. His sister is reportedly already bilingual at the age of just two.

Princess Charlotte’s school is equally costly. The highest term cost is £3,050 for the morning school. The afternoon school costs £1,800 per term and the lunch club is £580 per term for one afternoon per week and £1740 for three afternoons during the week.

Health

Prince William and Ms Middleton’s third child will experience a range of health privileges due to being born into the royal family.

The Office for National Statistics predicts the life expectancy rate for a man in Kensington - where he will live - to be 83.3 years. This is a good deal higher than the average of 79.5 years for England as a whole. Nevertheless, it seems safe to assume that the royal baby’s own personal life expectancy will be even further boosted by the healthcare he is entitled to.

Being born in Lindo Wing in St Mary’s Hospital in Marylebone in London – an opulent institution which describes itself as "London's foremost private hospital” – is just one of those privileges.

Prince Philip – now 96-years-old – was recently discharged from the hospital after undergoing a successful hip operation. It is also where the Queen had knee surgery and where Kate Middleton was treated for morning sickness. Including just 56 beds and boasting the luxury of more than four nurses to every patient, King Edward VII's pledges "dedicated, individual attention."

It is the same hospital where Prince George was born in 2013, and his younger sister, Princess Charlotte in 2015.

“While we are all entitled to free access to healthcare, the experience for the royals is very different,” notes Mr Smith of Republic. “They are never going to be put on a waiting list, they will always get everything they need when they need it. They will be well looked after by physicians, they will have all early intervention health care checks imaginable and any problems are likely to be caught early on”.

Housing

To put it simply, housing will be of no object for the newly born prince. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge reportedly have four floors of living space to occupy in Kensington Palace.

The couple are said to have spent £4.5 million renovating their apartment there, as well as hundreds of thousands more of their personal money on additions like a second family kitchen. But if their new child gets bored of his royal bode, he is always welcome at his grandmother's 775-roomed Buckingham Palace.

If he is as lucky as his brother he might also receive a property for his second birthday. Prince George's parents gave him a real £18,000 cottage on wheels for his second birthday. The luxury Victorian-style outhouse is situated on the edge of the Prince of Wales’s wildflower meadow at Highgrove.

“In terms of housing, it could not be any more different. They have huge houses guaranteed to them for the rest of their lives while other people are struggling to afford rent. They are given mansions by the taxpayer,” said Mr Smith.

Career and work

But while the healthcare, education and housing prospects of the latest royal baby might appear clearly mapped out, his career is less chartered territory.

“Well given how far their lineage is, the best example to look at is Edward, and he could also struggle to find a meaningful role for himself. Prince George already has his career, he is basically king after William. His brother has slightly more autonomy,” Mr Smith said.

Nevertheless, it is worth noting the baby prince, who is the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh’s sixth great-grandchild, will be unable to pursue a career path that is at loggerheads with the ethos of the royal family.

“There is one flipside to their life," Mr Smith said. "Royal children do not get the same sort of freedom as other children. Prince George already has his life and religion mapped out for him. He will be expected to serve in the armed forces. He could go against all this but it would be quite a major rupture from his family’s traditions and expectations”.

“Being royal means your life chances are greater because you are obviously more privileged but hopefully they won’t abuse that like the way some royals in the past have done,” Mr Okeeffe, the editor of Royal Circular, said. "The royal family are becoming much closer to the people. If this child carries on the way their parents and prince harry are going then they will be even more in touch with the people.”

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in