Prince George was born on July 22 2013 amid intense media attention
During his first year he travelled with his parents on their tour to New Zealand and Australia
Foster: George's parents wanted to keep his world small and intimate in those early days
Prince George isn’t your average one year old. He started walking before he was one. Oh, and, he’s going to be king – of 16 countries. I had to remind myself occasionally of that latter fact as I stood outside the hospital in London where he was born… for a week before his arrival.
It went against my journalistic instinct to report on a story that hadn’t happened yet but if I didn’t appear regularly on air, giving an update about what hadn’t happened, then the assumption was that it had and rumors would start which I would have to come back on air to refute. If you can’t beat them, join them.
When “the royal baby” did emerge, there was a collective sense of relief and excitement among the assembled media. He was already one of the biggest stars in the world and we didn’t even know his name.
Before we knew it he was whisked away, with his father in the driving seat, to Kensington Palace. Soon he was in the Middleton family home in Berkshire, southern England, where Kate had spent much of her pregnancy. It’s safe, private, protected.
The Cambridges wanted to keep George’s world small and intimate in those early days so that mother, father and baby could bond. To satisfy intense media interest, they released an official photo. It wasn’t taken by a professional outsider who would burst the bubble – rather it was a family snap taken by George’s grandfather, Michael Middleton.
I met William during that first fortnight and he was exhausted and elated, the hallmarks of a hands-on dad. The duke always tries to do things himself if he can. He doesn’t like fuss. It may have gone against royal tradition but it wasn’t intentional.
We didn’t see George again for another three months when he appeared bright eyed and wriggling in his father’s arms for his christening at St. James Palace. It was all about the cheeks. After the service, he had his first professional photo shoot with celebrity photographer Jason Bell. “He didn’t start screaming,” Bell recalls. “You know, he giggled away and put his arms up … I was astonished, that having done the pictures, the level of interest here.
“I had a really weird moment where, straight after shooting the christening pictures, I was doing a job in Colorado and I changed planes in Denver. And I walked through the airport, and it was like that ‘Being John Malkovich’ poster where everyone in the airport was reading ‘People’ magazine and this picture on the cover, and this picture was like staring at me everywhere. It was just really strange moment, when you’re like ‘Wow this picture is like everywhere.’”
When George was eight months old, Bell was brought back in and took another picture of the family ahead of their tour in April to New Zealand and Australia. He chose a shot of them sitting at a window in Kensington Palace. “I went back and he was a little boy now, not a baby,” says bell. “He was crawling around, and you know, they grow up so quick!”
George was growing fast. In New Zealand a special playdate was convened for George with local youngsters of the same age. His size became apparent as he towered over all but one of his Kiwi counterparts. In a distinctly un-regal moment he grabbed a toy block from another baby who cried. Her parents are still hoping that they will stay in touch.
The young prince appeared again in Sydney during a trip to the zoo. George was pulling himself up on the sides of a bilby enclosure and started walking shortly after he got back to the UK.
The latest set of pictures, released to mark his birthday this week, show George on a day out at the Natural History Museum in London. It could be any toddler’s day out. And it’s this normality that’s the running theme throughout his first year in pictures.
He’s not normal. His parents know that but they’re protecting him for as long as they can.