Highgrove Gardens: Prince George's luxury playground
Prince Charles's play area for the young royal now includes £18,000 wendy house
The Prince of Wales has pulled out all the stops in the grounds of his Gloucestershire home to turn the gardens of Highgrove House into a playtime paradise for Prince George.
Royal duties and foreign tours keep Prince Charles busy, and with over 500 engagements to attend a year it's understandable that he wants to make the most of his time with his grandchildren.
To this end, the Daily Telegraph says Prince Charles has had a treehouse, once used by his own sons, refurbished. Originally built in 1989 for Prince William's seventh birthday, the lofty hideaway is having its roof rethatched and the door replaced to welcome the new generation.
The Times reports that the gardens have been further enhanced for the two year-old royal's visits with an £18,000 wendy house equipped with its own stove and bed. The wheeled shepherd's hut was a gift from the manufacturer, Richard Lee, in recognition of the help he received from the Prince's Trust charity.
Prince Charles's plan to turn the grounds into a haven for his grandchildren appears to be working, with Prince George reportedly enjoying play tea parties in the grounds, as well as helping his grandfather plant trees – an inclination that's sure to please his horticulturalist grandfather.
Kate Middleton and Prince William have made no secret of their desire to give their children as normal an upbringing as possible, far away from the glare of media attention. The private play area reflects the difficulty of allowing Prince George to play in public, where the toddler is apparently dressed in casual clothes to reduce the risk of being spotted by paparazzi. In 2014, a legal warning was issued to a photographer caught following Prince George and his nanny during an outing to Battersea Park.
Prince George's outfit under attack – but is it a disguise?
Television presenter Janet Street-Porter has sparked outrage after describing Prince George a "cross-dressing millionaire" – but a new theory has emerged about the toddler's outfits.
As the young royal celebrated his second birthday at Anmer Hall yesterday, Street-Porter appeared on ITV's Loose Women and took aim at his "girl's blouse".
Her comments came as the rest of the show's panel admired the Prince's latest official picture, taken by fashion photographer Mario Testino at Princess Charlotte's christening. Street-Porter told them: "Don't go on. Quite frankly he looks like a cross-dressing millionaire. He does, he's a millionaire, and he's got a girl's blouse on."
Viewers took to Twitter to complain, pointing out that he was just a little boy and urging the presenter to cheer up. "As if Janet Street-Porter just called Prince George a cross-dressing millionaire. He's a baby boy. Off with her head!" wrote one.
But Street-Porter is not the only one to question Prince George's style. Peter Bradshaw at The Guardian says the red knickerbockers and white embroidered chemise combo "looked like something Pinocchio might angrily refuse to wear".
However, Tom Sykes at the Daily Beast suggests there is a meticulous strategy behind the "deeply anachronistic" look.
Why does Kate Middleton dress Prince George in long socks, shorts and blousy shirts? he asks. "The answer has less to do with Kate's personal style or an honouring of the royal tradition of dressing royal children as mini lords and ladies than it does with an inventive strategy by Kate for securing an element of private life for Prince George. Put simply, this is not how George dresses all the time."
Sources say that George's public appearance is "actually a disguise", to throw the general public and photographers "off the scent". When the family want to go out and about "off duty", George is apparently dressed like other toddlers.
"Kate went into the business of being a Royal with her eyes wide open and of her own volition," says Sykes. "George (and his little sister Charlotte) have made no such choice, and his public dress code is one of the ways Kate is trying to claw a few degrees of privacy back for her kids as she rears them."
Prince George turns two: how will he celebrate birthday?
Prince George turns two today, and his parents are determined to keep the birthday celebrations low-key in keeping with their efforts to give their children as normal a childhood as possible.
The future king's first birthday was marked with much royal fanfare, with the Queen as the guest of honour and a military band serenading the prince with Happy Birthday outside Kensington Palace.
According to the Daily Telegraph, the Cambridges are planning a far more "normal" party for their son and heir's second birthday. In fact, the plans sounds just like any other toddler's birthday, with a few friends and family invited to the family home for finger food and cake. Of course, in this case 'home' means Anmer Hall, the ten-bedroom country manor on the royal Sandringham Estate where the Cambridges spend most of their time.
So simple are the arrangements, it seems, that the Duchess of Cambridge has organised the day with minimal help from staff and her sister, self-styled party planner Pippa Middleton. Having parents who run a business selling children's party supplies must certainly have made the Duchess of Cambridge's preparations a little easier.
The Middletons will be in attendance to wish their grandson a happy birthday, but his other grandparents will be absent – Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall are on an official visit to the West Country, but plan to see George later in the week.
Prince William may also be otherwise engaged on his son's birthday, as his new job as an air ambulance pilot might call him away from home. Prince George is unlikely to be too upset to see his father flying off, according to a New Zealand news website, as the young royal is obsessed with helicopters and will be getting a helicopter birthday cake.
"George rarely misses a chance to wave off Harry or William if they're flying their helicopters," Jessica Hay, a friend of the Duchess, said. "He loves them and already says he's planning to be a pilot himself when he's a big boy."
Another official photograph of Prince George at his sister Princess Charlotte's christening has been released to mark his birthday. Four official pictures of the royals, taken by fashion photographer Mario Testino, were released earlier this month. A fifth, showing Prince George smiling in the arms of Prince William, was saved for this week.
"This photograph captures a very happy moment on what was a special day for the duke and duchess and their family," said a Kensington Palace spokeswoman.
"They are very pleased to share this picture as they celebrate Prince George's second birthday."
Prince William recently let slip that, while baby Charlotte is a "little joy of heaven", Prince George is "a little monkey".
According to Richard Kay at the Daily Mail, the toddler enjoys opening and slamming doors and has been known to empty the contents of at least one visitor's bag.
However, Kay points out that his father was described by Prince Charles as "whirlwind Will" when he was little and had a habit of "flushing shoes down the royal loo, pushing the palace panic buttons and threatening to behead his friends or lock them up in the Tower of London".
Prince George revives fashion's 'most loathed shoe': the Croc
Sales of Crocs – once described as fashion's "most loathed shoe" – have seen a dramatic rise since Prince George stepped out in a pair earlier this month.
The royal toddler, who turns two-years-old next month, was pictured wearing navy blue Crocband clogs at a charity polo match on 14 June.
Since then, Amazon has reported a "1,500 per cent" rise in sales of the shoes, which cost around £26.99 a pair.
Time magazine says the prince is following in the footsteps of his mother, who has the power to send designers' sales sky-rocketing simply by wearing their clothes.
Last year, the children's clothes website aden + anais crashed twice after George was pictured in their swaddle cloths, and the company saw a 600 per cent increase in the cloths' sales.
On top of that, the Centre for Retail Research claims the prince contributed around £247m to the British economy in the first nine weeks of his life alone, taking into account money spent on celebratory food and alcohol, souvenirs and toys, and books, DVDs and other media.
"He could even revive the buzz around the sandals everyone loves to hate," says Time.
Known as the "Marmite" of footwear, Crocs broke the $1bn threshold for annual turnover in 2011, with celebrity endorsements from the likes of Alicia Silverston, Teri Hatcher and Jack Nicholson. Then the company was forced to restructure in 2014, cutting jobs and closing shops after the plastic clog appeared to lose favour with shoppers.
One year later, they appear to be back in again, thanks to the young prince.
"Call it the 'Prince George effect'," says Time. "Every item of clothing the son of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge touches has, so far, turned into brand gold."
Prince George 'steals show' as Kate Middleton returns to work
Prince George "stole the show" not once but twice this weekend as his mother Kate Middleton made her first public appearance since giving birth to Princess Charlotte.
The royal family attended Trooping the Colour on Saturday to celebrate the Queen's official birthday – but all eyes were on Prince George, who appeared on the Buckingham Palace balcony for the first time to watch the Red Arrows.
Sitting in Prince William's arms, he waved to the crowd and pointed to the colourful air display.
"There was no sign of his baby sister, Princess Charlotte, so Prince George stole the show at the Queen's 89th birthday parade yesterday," says The Sunday Times.
The occasion marked the first time that a British monarch had appeared in public alongside three generations of direct heirs, with George wearing the same blue outfit worn by his father at the event in 1984, notes The Times.
Prince George – who turns two next month – made a second public appearance yesterday, watching his father and uncle Harry play a charity polo game in Tetbury, Gloucestershire.
Clutching his toy car and playing happily in the grass, Prince George was the "centre of attention" at the family outing, reports the Daily Telegraph. The newspaper adds that, although he was there to watch his father play in the match, it appeared George was "rather more engrossed in his toys".
Prince George's hand-me-downs for royal baby number two
Gifts will be pouring in for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's new arrival, but the second royal baby will have a long way to go to stack up as many presents as his or her brother.
Prince George was sent more gifts from around the world than any other UK royal last year, receiving more than 670 presents during his Easter visit to Australia and New Zealand alone.
If the new baby is lucky, he or she might be allowed to share some of Prince George's stash:
NBA superstar LeBron James has been trying to drum up support from Prince George for his team, the Cleveland Cavaliers. The basketball player, whose nickname is "King James", even had a tiny shirt made up for the little prince. George also has a mini yellow jersey, presented to his parents at the start of the 101st Tour de France in Leeds, as well as a tiny number seven Wales rugby jersey from Welsh skipper Sam Warburton.
Presidential polo pony
James and Warburton are not the only celebrities to send gifts to the prince – US president Barack Obama sent George a handmade rocking horse, partly made from an oak tree that once stood on the South Lawn of the White House. The saddle bears the presidential seal and Obama sent a toy polo mallet too, so George can practice playing polo like his father.
Miniature amphibious boat
Should Prince George want to escape the royal baby hype, he could sail away on his miniature Sealegs amphibious boat. The gift was waiting for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge when they disembarked from the full-sized version at Hobsonville, Auckland last year.
Fattened black bull
Prince George is the proud owner of a fattened black bull, a goat and four heifers, gifted to him from the Samburu community of north-central Kenya. Elders blessed the royal herd, which is kept at Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, where Prince William proposed to Kate. George was also given a newborn crocodile called George, which lives in Darwin and has its own Facebook page.
When Kate was pregnant in 2013, she reportedly asked UK nursery brand Silver Cross for a bespoke version of its navy Sleepover Elegance pram. Features included an insect net, four-wheel suspension, deep padded mattress cover and "luxury quilted foot muff".
As third in line for the throne, Prince George apparently deserved better than an ordinary plastic pot for his nappy rash cream. Sudocrem commissioned jewellery designer Theo Fennell to create an 18ct white gold bracelet, complete with usable charm-sized nappy rash cream container, in honour of his birth. At £10,000, it was one of the most lavish baby gifts the pregnant Kate Middleton received.
Silver hands and feet
Aunty Pippa was also keen to give her nephew an expensive silver gift. She reportedly spent £7,000 on a silver sculpture of his hands and feet for his christening. To create the moulds, the Daily Mail says the little prince had to have his limbs placed in a jelly-like organic mixture made of water and a seaweed-based powder.
A field of flowers
Count Tibor Kalnoky, an old friend of Prince Charles and a conservationist, gave George the gift of wild flowers. But in order to preserve the present, he bequeathed a whole field of them in the Transylvanian hills. "If we sent flowers, they would wilt," said the count.
One of Prince George's favourite presents was a giant wombat toy he was given by Australia's Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove in April last year. While he happily grabbed tufts of the wombat's fur, he seemed less impressed with a small toy bilby given to him a few days later, throwing it to the ground in apparent distaste. Other gifts from the Aussie royal tour included a kangaroo-hair blanket and a possum skin cloak.
Prince George: advice on becoming a first-time brother
Prince George has just days to go before he becomes a big brother for the first time – but luckily mothers, royal correspondents and childcare professionals from across the world have been dispensing their best advice about what he can expect.
Tips for Kate Middleton and Prince William on dealing with "two under-twos" don't appear to bode well for young George, or anyone in his immediate vicinity, with tantrums apparently on the cards.
Prince George will have the "world as he knows it turned upside down by his younger brother or sister", says Laura Elston from New Zealand's 3 News. "As a big brother, the Prince will have to learn to share not only his toys but also the affection of his mother and father with Cambridge baby number two."
The Prince is yet to show off his best sharing skills, reducing another baby to tears on his first official royal engagement by grabbing her wooden toy. "Emotions will be running high," says Murphy.
ABC News' royal contributor Victoria Murphy points out that George has already had some practice with Lupo the dog. "Of course, this baby will be their second child, but in some ways this baby is their third child because you've got to remember they also have Lupo, who was there long before Prince George," she says. "And Lupo is their absolute, beloved pet dog, who they treat exactly like one of the family."
Kim Friedman, whose neurotic texts to her daughter went viral earlier this year, tells People magazine that George will have difficulty adjusting to the new baby. "Two-year-olds have temper tantrums. They have meltdowns. They can hit and scream at the new baby," she says. "So make sure George washes his hands all the time, so at least he doesn't give the new baby germs if he tries to attack."
Friedman warns that George may "crack" when he realises that the new baby is not temporary. "When he understands that baby is not leaving – that it'll keep taking his toys, throwing up on his toys, whatever – he's gonna have some problems."
On the plus side, she recommends that Kate and Wills have a "closet full of gifts wrapped up and ready to give George" so visitors with presents for the new baby will have to give its big brother one too.
And if his new sibling becomes all too much, George can take comfort in the words of Susan, a mother from Park Slope in New York, speaking to Vanity Fair. "The Queen is likely going to favour George because one day he'll have her job," she says, "whereas the new baby is kind of irrelevant."
Prince George: official Christmas photos revealed
Three official portraits of Prince George have been released in time for Christmas by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
The 16-month-old toddler, who is third in line to the throne, can be seen smiling on the stone steps of a courtyard in Kensington Palace.
It has been almost five months since the prince was last seen in official photographs and a royal spokesperson made clear that the new pictures were released partially as a thank you to the media for not publishing any unauthorised photographs.
A statement from Kensington Palace said the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge released the images in "grateful acknowledgment of the fact that their request for Prince George to grow up without intrusion from photography has been, and continues to be, honoured".
According to the BBC, the photographs were taken in late November by Prince Harry's private secretary and freelance photographer Ed Lane Fox.
The images, released by Clarence House on Twitter, were shared more than 10,000 times.
The Daily Telegraph points out that designers have sold out of stock previously worn by the prince. "The 'George effect' was coined shortly after the prince was born when sales of the swaddling blanket he was wrapped in as he left hospital rose by 600% in the following week," says the newspaper.
Cath Kidston no longer stocks the top, but has confirmed that it will be added back into its children's wear range in 2015 "due to popular demand". Meanwhile, people who already own the vest have been putting it on eBay in a bid to make some cash.