We’ve seen Prince George on a number of occasions now – at public engagements, in official photographs, and most recently during last week’s tour of Canada – and there’s one thing that royal watchers have noticed about the little royal: he only ever wears shorts.
According to an etiquette expert there is a very good reason for this – and it’s nothing to do with fashion, but rather royal and aristocratic tradition.
It’s a very English thing to dress a young boy in shorts,” William Hanson told Harper’s Bazaar UK. “Trousers are for older boys and men, whereas shorts on young boys is one of those silent class markers that we have in England.
Although times are (slowly) changing, a pair of trousers on a young boy is considered quite middle class – quite suburban. And no self-respecting aristo or royal would want to be considered suburban. Even the Duchess of Cambridge.
The tradition can be traced back through the royal family, with both Princes William and Harry regularly seen wearing shorts until they were deemed old enough to progress to full-length trousers.
The usual custom is that a boy graduates to trousers around eight-years-old, William added. This is, historically, perhaps due to the practice of ‘breeching’, which dates back to the sixteenth century.
A newborn boy would be dressed in a gown for their first year or two (these gowns have survived as the modern christening robe) and then he was ‘breeched’ and wore articles of clothing that more resembled shorts or trousers than dresses.
Ultimately, he concluded, in the case of William and Kate, the decision to dress George in shorts in more likely down to tradition than a class issue.
The modern habit of upper class families choosing to dress their boys in shorts will deliberately hark back to a bygone age, he said. The British upper set are always keen to hold on to tradition, and this one also silently marks them out from ‘the rest.