shutterstockPrince George is probably the most photographed three-year-old in the world. Odds are, you’ve already committed the adorable pics of the young prince getting a pep talk from Prince William to memory. How could anyone forget that precious pouty face?
No matter where they’re taken, all photos of Prince George have on thing in common: He’s always wearing shorts. So what’s the deal? Is he fighting back against the physical and social constraint of pants? Can he not find any pants that fit? Does he just feel naturally warm all the time?
Turns out it’s actually a royal family tradition for young boys to wear shorts instead of pants until they’re about eight years old.
“Trousers are for older boys and men, whereas shorts on young boys is one of those silent class markers that we have in England,” etiquette expert William Hanson told Harper’s Bazaar U.K. “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.”
Hanson went on to explain that the origins of this tradition stem from an old rite of passage called breeching. Dating back to the 16th century, young boys would wear gowns or dresses. This type of garment made it easier for them to be toilet trained, plus it was easier to mend gowns to accommodate a growing child when money for new clothes was tight. Once they were about eight—the exact age varied by region—they would receive their first pair of pants or breeches. (Hence the name.)
The royal family is extremely attentive to following traditions, like these royal etiquette rules, so it’s no surprise they proudly keep this one alive as well. In fact, there are pictures of Prince Harry and Prince William wearing similar outfits in their early years as well.
So while you won’t see young Prince George wearing christening gowns anytime soon, they are part of the reason for his short-centric wardrobe.