Upper-Class Babies Do Not Get Cold Knees, Etiquette Experts Say

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(Oh god, my ovaries. Image via Twitter/Kensington Palace)

When Prince George is not starring in accidental horror movies, he’s one of the cutest celebrity babies around, in part because he and his sister are always dressed like old-timey Precious Moments figurines while being as assertive and full of personality as any toddlers. They’re great, and the juxtaposition of their big attitudes and tiny outfits gets me every time. But while Princess Charlotte wears Liberty-print dresses and cardigans in every photo op, Prince George is always in shorts. Normally that makes sense because it’s summer, but even in November, he still wears shorts. At first I thought this was a public service from the Duchess of Cambridge, who knows that we’re all sitting in our chilly gray offices just desperate for chubby little toddler knees to squee over, but according to the etiquette experts at Harper’s Bazaar, it’s actually just because he’s fancy.

Prince George really is always in shorts, and apparently bare legs on little boys is a class-signifier in Britain, where the fanciest little boys don’t actually get long trousers until they’re about eight years old. F. Scott Fitzgerald was right, the rich are different from us. Their legs don’t get cold.

“It is considered very suburban for a little boy to be in long trousers when he is just a little boy,” said Ingrid Steward, the editor in chief of Majesty magazine, to People magazine. (Does it count as Noblesse Oblige when someone from Majesty deigns to talk to someone from People?)

As silly as the idea of a hereditary aristocracy might be, if it means we get another couple years of chubby little baby legs to coo over, I’m OK with this.

“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,” etiquette expert WIlliam Hanson wrote for Harper’s Bazaar UK.

I feel like I need to consult both Jezebel’s Shade Court and the AP Style Guide for notes on the preceding paragraph, because I am convinced that Hanson is shading Kate Middleton with that “Even the Duchess of Cambridge” line–Hanson references the Duchess of Cambridge’s “middle class” roots in virtually every article. Also I don’t know how to handle the title of “etiquette expert,” which by all rights should be in sarcastic air quotes, but I just don’t know how to handle the typographical issue of air quotes following actual quotes.

“…even the Duchess of Cambridge,” “etiquette expert” William Hanson wrote.

No editor would let punctuation like that fly. Is there an accepted style guide for punctuating snark? I think we’re going to need it.

(If you’re in the mood for a rage stroke or at least a good hate-read, Hanson is also the author of the “Things You Must Stop Doing at a Certain Age” article that said women over 40 can’t have long hair and nobody over 18 can play video games and was so prescriptive and judgmental even the commenters on The Daily Mail thought he was a classist asshat.)

Prince George is cute in his tiny shorts, but don’t actually worry about him being cold. His parents are looking out for him, and frankly, he doesn’t ever actually have to be outside like that. This is just a weird, interesting thing, like how some people say “couch” and some people say “sofa,” and some other people have whole careers writing about the differences between those two groups of people.

We almost never see Prince George at official events unless it’s summer, or he’s in a controlled environment with near proximity to someplace warm. (Usually a castle.) On top of all that, illicit paparazzi photos reveal his parents do dress him in actual pants when he’s playing in the snow or when he’s not at photo-friendly events. Nobody tell the etiquette experts, though. The shock might be too much for them.