How many times have you seen it happen? There you all are, at a wedding or some other important family occasion, and a small child kicks off. Oh dear. Grandad has just started his heartfelt speech at the Golden Wedding, Granny looks emotional, handkerchiefs are out — and suddenly a bored four-year-old yells: ‘Noooo! Don’t want to!’
No efforts to shush the child’s squawks can possibly work. What real live four-year-old takes any notice when he or she just wants to throw off the posh clothes and play? So then you witness the tense faces of the embarrassed parents as one or other finally scoops up the protesting offspring and heads for the door — or else hands over an iPad or phone to distract the little one.
If you’re a curmudgeon (and there’s plenty about) you probably think: ‘What a brat!’ But if you’re a parent or grandparent you’ll sympathise and murmur: ‘Oh, poor things . . .’
We all like to have the truth confirmed — that other people’s children and grandchildren can, at times, be just as trying as our own. Even the royals
He stole the limelight on Thursday after delighting crowds as he stood chatting to the Queen – and Prince Louis showed off his star power again on Sunday while watching the Platinum Jubilee Pageant in London
It’s so revealing that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge yesterday released their own delighted message about the festivities: ‘What a fantastic weekend of celebrations. Seeing people across the nation coming together with family, friends and loved ones has been extremely special. We all had an incredible time, especially Louis . . .’
The prince pulled more than a few faces as he watched the pageant from the Royal box with his mother, the Duchess of Cambridge
Sticking out his tongue! The four-year-old showcased several amusing expressions as he sat next to his mother, the Duchess of Cambridge, in the royal box during the fourth day of Platinum Jubilee celebrations
‘Shush mother!’ He placed his hand over his mother’s mouth at one point while watching the pageant
Because we’ve all been there.
That’s why I was so delighted by the picture of Prince Louis sticking out his tongue at his mother, then cheekily reaching to put a hand over her mouth when (clearly) she must have told him to behave.
On seeing the image, my daughter Kitty, who has a girl aged nine and a boy of six, commented with real feeling: ‘Every mother knows that moment when your child forces you to inhale the scent of grubby little boy’s hand — eau de dirt! Watching it must have made the nation’s mothers breathe a sigh of relief.’
Behind the little prince sat Mike Tindall who entertained the boy with funny faces to keep him amused.
From pensive to excited! Prince Louis showcased a range of emotions during his appearance yesterday in London
What’s going on? The prince stood up on his seat at one point for a better view of the party down below
All fun and smiles: The prince appeared to enjoy himself despite four long days of jubilee celebrations
Sitting in the Royal Box at the Platinum Jubilee Pageant in London, Louis got into the party spirit of the celebration
Lots to see! The children sat through the long procession showcasing Britain’s national treasures while celebrating the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee
Yes, we all like to have the truth confirmed — that other people’s children and grandchildren can, at times, be just as trying as our own. Even the royals.
It’s so revealing that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge yesterday released their own delighted message about the festivities: ‘What a fantastic weekend of celebrations. Seeing people across the nation coming together with family, friends and loved ones has been extremely special.
‘Thank you to everyone who turned out to show their gratitude to the Queen and her inspiring 70 years of leadership. From the crowds on The Mall to communities hosting street parties up and down the country, we hope you had a weekend to remember.
‘We all had an incredible time, especially Louis . . .’
He later moved across to his other relatives and sat on his grandfather Prince Charles’ lap, who pointed out various interesting parts of the parade to try and keep the four-year-old entertained
Prince Louis joined his grandfather, who pointed out some of the spectacles on display in the parade
Sitting next to Louis’ grandfather was the Duchess of Cambridge, with the Princess Royal sat on the other
They are well aware Louis stole the show. And I bet he wore out his mother. No wonder a popular meme (that’s an image, often doctored, spread on social media) going the rounds is of Kate downing an exaggeratedly enormous glass of wine.
She probably needed several. Coping with three children isn’t easy at the best of times, but for so long and in public? Knowing the eyes of the world are on you?
For her, there’s no option to swoop her brood away or keep them quiet with a digital device. Personally, as well as a glass of the finest champagne, I would give her a parenting medal — for displaying non-stop fortitude under fire . . . even if she did have a little help from extended family.
How I loved the sight of jolly Uncle Mike Tindall intervening from behind with a jokey: ‘I’m watching you.’ (Don’t mess with the big rugger player, Louis.)
And just like Prince Charles, I’ve been the grandparent who tries to help matters by pulling a child for a cuddle on your welcoming lap — only to find the fidgety little darling soon gets restless and wants to escape your loving clutches. Kids, eh?
Still, how many times must Kate have glanced over to her husband with a mute plea: ‘Can’t you have Louis down your end for a bit?’
Yay! The Prince also clenched his fists while looking non-plussed at all the fuss down below
Sleepy! He was also seen rubbing his eyes as the procession winded its way along The Mall
Prince Louis placed his hands over his eyes at one point while watching the pageant on the fourth day of celebrations
All fun and games! The prince had fun at the Platinum Jubilee Pageant sat between his mother the Duchess of Cambridge and sister Princess Charlotte
Meanwhile, the boy in question frowned and wriggled and gurned and then (like the sun after a shower) smiled with delight as a particularly mad, colourful puppet went by. In those moments he was no longer a privileged Prince, he was Everyboy.
It occurred to me that this family seem, all in all, pretty ordinary. Parents who have raised three children will have recognised familiar roles being played out.
There’s the serious, oldest child, trying his best to look as if he’s in charge — but wishing he didn’t have to be. Then the confident middle child — sweetly bossy and at ease with the family and the world. Finally, there’s the baby who can sometimes, if not always, get away with murder.
Child psychologists have seen significance in birth order. The first child is thought to be conscientious and cautious, the second more social and independent, while the last born can be more attention-seeking, possibly manipulative, with a great sense of mischievous fun, but easily bored.
These differences can (it’s thought) have a profound effect well into later life.
With the first child parents are so anxious and want to do everything perfectly, but by the time a third one comes along you’re far more relaxed and unbothered about details that would have sent you into a flat spin years earlier.
Perfection, you realise, is simply not achievable. And that is what all those candid pictures of Louis and his older siblings have shown.
In what would become one of the most talked-about aspects of the event, the Queen interacted with Louis, who stood next to her on the balcony. And the young prince was photographed holding his hands over his ears as the aircraft soared overhead. The monarch smiled throughout the flypast and waved at the crowds before going back into the palace.
At times, he was seen clenching his fists, sticking out his tongue, waving his arms in the air, putting his hands over his mother’s mouth and standing in his seat for a better view of the spectacle
No matter how impossibly elegant the Duchess looks and how perfectly she carries out her demanding public role, in the end she is just another mum whose youngest son gives her a shove and kicks his sister.
That’s why I feel so grateful the couple chose to share their children with us over the magical days of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. How right that they didn’t hide them away — when to have done so would have made their lives much easier.
I love all the pictures. Charlotte trying to stop her over-enthusiastic little brother from waving too much in the carriage; George screwing up his face with the effort of staying silent and dignified.
Charlotte looking like any happy little girl as she mixed up a cake; George being poked in the ear by his sister’s flag.
And of course, Louis covering his ears as the planes roared overhead — then pulling his whole face down in a clownish expression of utter boredom. No wonder Kate laughed at his Frankie Howerd look.
Over the joyous four-day Jubilee we were able to observe a real family at play — but at work, too, since they were also enacting a public role which those three children cannot yet possibly understand.
George, Charlotte and Louis have a destiny — and sadly a part of that is to face criticism. I can’t be the only one to be utterly shocked at the kind of criticism levelled at little Louis on social media — yes, at a four-year-old who played up a little bit, as all children will.
Whatever you think about the monarchy, to target children is entirely unacceptable. To repeat the comments would be demeaning; it is enough to mention that a few mean-minded people opined that the little boy needed more discipline (like what? A cane?) and that his mother is being given the kind of free pass as a parent which would never be given to the Duchess of Sussex.
Getting tired! The prince hugged his mother while watching as the Household Cavalry led The Gold State Coach along a pageant route back to Buckingham Palace
Immediately to his left, the prince’s two elder siblings Prince George and Princess Charlotte sat near their father and cut stately figures as they watched the proceedings
Oh, for pity’s sake, let us leave the Sussexes out of the equation — which is, after all, what they most wanted and have chosen.
I know I’m in the majority when I say that witnessing the way the three Cambridge children coped with their public role at such a young age made me very proud of them and the way they are being raised.
Those three waving as the carriage bowled through streets thronged with well-wishers were being shown by the Royal Family (for nothing happens without discussion and the Queen’s permission) to be an essential part of the whole — that whole being the monarchy that we treasure.
It intrigues me that many people celebrate the Queen as an individual, as if she can be divided from the institution into which she was born and which has sustained her throughout a long life of duty.
The Queen and the monarchy are indivisible, and that is why that last, moving balcony appearance was so significant. You can’t truly celebrate Her Majesty without understanding the significance of the succession, which means so much to her and the nation.
During the Trooping the Colour ceremony, it moved me to hear my son-in-law explain to his daughter: ‘That one will be the next king, and his son will be the king after that, and that little boy — he’s Prince George — will be king after that.’
That is why I believe it was so important that William and Kate ‘shared’ their family with us.
We could see the children had a jolly time, but also how much — in all their sweet and joyful responses and antics — they were just like children everywhere. Which means deeply loved.