THE hand will one day hold a sceptre, but yesterday as Prince George embarked on his first royal “crawlabout”, the young heir to the throne was content to shake his rattle.
In what is likely to be the most photographed and filmed playdate in modern history, the eight-month-old prince was introduced to ten other babies born at about the same time.
While there were tears and tantrums, none were royal as George displayed the traditional British stiff upper lip, except, that is, when chewing on a plastic toy. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, who are on a royal tour of Australia and New Zealand, met fellow new mothers and fathers at Government House in the New Zealand capital of Wellington, at an event organised with the not-for-profit children’s charity, Plunket.
The parents were selected from all aspects of New Zealand society, including two gay fathers and a single mother, but their children were all born within a few weeks of Prince George’s birth on 22 July last year.
The young prince was suitably attired for his royal crawl-about in a pair of £75 blue dungaree shorts by British luxury brand Rachel Riley, which was teamed with a matching pair of blue bootees and a white top.
The idea behind the event was to allow the royal couple to introduce their son to the public in an informal manner, as well as to be able to swap stories of sleep deprivation and nappy changing with other first-time parents.
The duke said: “It’s madness – there are babies everywhere.”
The playdate, which was screened on news bulletins around the world, took place in the Blandor Room, under the watchful eye of not just 11 sets of parents but a portrait of George’s great- grandmother, the Queen.
Yesterday Jared Mullen, whose daughter Isabella was among the group, said afterwards: “He is a lovely little boy, very intrepid. The whole thing has been a huge privilege.”
Tristine Clark, president of the New Zealand Plunket Society, which was founded in 1907 by the paediatrician Sir Frederic Truby King, said: “The parents are a spread of all the communities in New Zealand, including Maoris, Samoans, people of Chinese descent and gay couples. This is a very multi-cultural country and we wanted the duke and duchess to meet people from all backgrounds.”
Sheila Lemalie, a childcare worker, who had taken her son TJ along, said: “It was a very special time. We had a chance to cuddle George – he is very strong and very advanced. We talked to the duke and duchess about parenting and to the duchess about her role as both a mother and a royal.
“She said she was lucky to have help with George from her family and friends. Prince William said he supported his wife by giving George his bottle at night and putting him to bed.”
The duchess, who wore a patterned dress by designer Tory Burch, frequently shifted her son from hip to hip throughout the day – while George’s nanny Maria Teresa Turrion Borrallo remained close by.
The royal couple plan to visit a vineyard and meet The Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson during their three-week trip.