LONDON: The youngest generation of royals stepped into the limelight today at King Charles III’s coronation, although the two smallest remained at home in California.
Prince Harry’s young children Archie, whose fourth birthday clashed with the coronation, and Lilibet 23 months, were with their mother Meghan while their father put in a solo appearance in London.
Their older cousins — George, nine, a future king himself, Charlotte, eight, and Louis, five — were, however, old enough to take part in the solemn two-hour ceremony at Westminster Abbey attended by kings, queens and heads of state.
With George, participating in the set-piece event as a page of honour helping to carry the monarch’s train, Charlotte and Louis were seen holding hands after they arrived at Westminster Abbey.
They then sat with their parents for the religious service with Louis spotted by the cameras yawning from time to time and pointing things out to his sister.
George, whose formal title is Prince George of Wales, is second in line to become king after his father Prince William.
He accompanied his grandfather in the procession through the nave of the abbey before joining his siblings and parents for the horse-drawn coach journey back to Buckingham Palace where they all appeared on the balcony.
Harry, the king’s youngest son, and Meghan are now firmly settled in California after a turbulent few years during which they quit royal duties and launched a barrage of criticism at the institution.
Harry, Meghan and their children were to have been a key part of Charles’s slimmed-down monarchy.
But their rancorous departure from royal life leaves a void that will inevitably focus public interest even more on William and Catherine’s offspring.
Although the couple have kept the young royals largely out of the limelight, royal commentators say this is tempered by realism.
Charlotte and Louis are reportedly being raised with the expectation that they will earn a living in future.
But George — as a future king — will have to learn to accept the public and media interest in him.
“He and Kate have made a concerted effort to protect their brood from the harshest elements of royal life — namely cameras — but they’ve also strived to instil a healthy understanding of the media’s role,” royal commentator Victoria Arbiter wrote last year.
A keen photographer, Catherine has regularly released photographs she has taken of the children to mark their birthdays.
They have also been seen on formal occasions and at one-off carefully controlled press calls to mark significant events in their lives such as first days at school.
Louis stole the show last year when he appeared on the balcony of Buckingham Palace after the Trooping of the Colour ceremony to mark the queen’s 96th birthday
Then aged four and sporting a blue and white sailor suit, he was seen covering his ears with his hands and grimacing energetically as an air force fly-past roared overhead. — AFP