Here's How Royal Babies Have Dressed Over Time
Royal baby dress hasn't changed much over the past century.
Royal babies have dressed similarly for generations. This is because the royal family has strict rules about how they appear in public, and traditional styles are favored over popular trends. Reportedly, this is also so photographs of the royal family remain timeless, and their looks stay both classic and formal in public.
The royal family even intentionally dresses babies and young children in the same styles as their parents and grandparents, passing down items like shoes and christening gowns to be worn again (and again!). And, when the items can't be reworn? Replicas are made so the next generation can still repeat the same looks.
Nonetheless, royal baby dress has changed subtly over the decades. Prior to the late 19th century, for example, boys wore dresses until around the age of 8. However, around the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, shorts became a common look for royal boys. Luckily for the current generation of royal babies, shorts remain a traditional choice for boy children.
Unsurprisingly, clothes worn by the royal babies often sell out after the children are seen in them. What is surprising, however, is that they don't just wear clothes made by the top designer labels. While the current royal babies wear a variety of clothing brands, these have included labels like Gap, Zara, Mango Kids, and Crocs — brands the rest of us can get our hands on, too.
Even so, to make the cut, modern brands must maintain classic appeal, with features like dresses with Peter Pan collars layered with a cardigan for girls, and traditional sweaters layered over a collared shirt for boys. Moreover, girls are almost always seen in dolly or Mary Jane shoes and stockings, while boys pair their classic shorts with tall socks and classic buckled leather shoes. Now, let's take a look at how royal baby dress has evolved over time.
Historic Royal Baby Dress
Royal Babies In The Early 20th Century
Compared to the current royal babies, Queen Elizabeth II, who was then Princess Elizabeth, grew up during a much less photographed era. Moreover, she was then third in line for the throne and no one believed she would be queen, so she was mostly kept out of the public eye. As such, her public appearances were not as documented as the royal children today. Nonetheless, it's clear some of her dress trends have still survived to the current era. As a young baby, she was photographed wearing white dresses with intricate lacework, and white bonnets, not unlike later generations of royal children wore and sometimes continue to wear today. Moreover, her hair was kept in short curls and she was often photographed wearing necklaces, adding a timeless touch to her looks.
As Princess Elizabeth got older, her dresses began to look more and more like the ones you might recognize on the royal children today. She often wore dresses that hit at or above the knee with classic prints and collars. While Princess Charlotte often wears Peter Pan collars, her great grandmother, then princess Elizabeth, favored these collars as well. Moreover, Princess Elizabeth and her younger sister, Princess Margaret, wore the same types of leather buckled shoes that the royal children still wear today, as well as ankle socks with ruffles. Floral prints were common for Princess Elizabeth, as well as buttons along the left side of the dress, instead of down the center. In fact, her style is so similar to present royal baby dress that we could imagine Princess Charlotte wearing the same dresses today without anyone even noticing a difference.
Royal Babies In The Mid 20th Century
When Queen Elizabeth was raising her children in the mid-20th century, the royal children were dressed in classic styles, with only slight changes from the previous generation. While all the royal babies were dressed in white gowns with ruffles and lace (regardless of gender), the mid century gowns were simpler than the ones Queen Elizabeth wore herself as a child. Nonetheless, those leather buckle shoes and ankle socks stuck around, as well as the classic royal pea coats and hats, which all still are worn to this day. Likewise, girls hair was kept short, much in the same fashion Queen Elizabeth also sported as a child, (but has since changed with Princess Charlotte, who wears her hair slightly longer at the shoulders).
As Prince Charles got older, he transitioned away from the dresses of toddlerhood and infancy and was allowed to wear shorts with ankle socks and buckled leather shoes, (much like his grandsons wear today). He generally wore button down shirts with his shorts, such as the one shown with trim below. Princess Anne was dressed in dresses similar to those Queen Elizabeth wore in her youth. However, there were times she was allowed to wear trousers and a blazer for play outdoors with her big brother. By the time Prince Andrew was born, both Prince Charles and Princess Anne were older children (born a decade earlier) and dressed in more grownup styles, with Prince Charles wearing suits for formal affairs, and Princess Anne in the wide-collared dresses of the era.
Royal Babies In The 1980s And 1990s
In keeping with the royal tradition of dressing royal babies in a timeless manner, it's difficult to tell Prince William and Prince Harry grew up in the 1980s and 1990s from their pictures alone. While the dress of people around them may give hints of the era, these royal babies are dressed in classic looks that could very well have been worn by previous generations. Both boys often wore shorts with button down shirts and trim along the collars and sleeves. Checkered prints were common, as were those now famous buckled leather shoes and ankle socks. Red and blue were favored colors and hair was kept neat and short, but not too short. Moreover, as seen with Prince Harry's christening gown below, garments passed down through the generations were kept in circulation to uphold royal traditions.
The christening gown on Prince Harry in this photo is a royal family heirloom. It was worn by 62 royal babies during its run from 1841 to 2004. Queen Victoria's son, Prince Albert, was the first to wear it for his christening on the first anniversary of his parent's marriage on February 10, 1841. It was created to mimic his mother's wedding gown with Spitalfields silk and Honiton lace. Even in modern times, one square inch of Honiton lace can take 10 hours to craft by hand. In 2004, the gown was retired and a replica was made to take its place. Already, eight royal babies have worn the replacement, including all three of Prince William and Kate Middleton's children, (pictured on Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis below). And, we can't wait for Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's baby to wear it next!
Royal Babies Today
Although the style of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's baby remains to be seen, we expect the baby will be dressed in looks similar to Prince William and Kate Middleton's children. While the royal dress traditions of the previous generations have still been honored with Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis, subtle changes have announced the arrival of the 21st century. For example, the royal family portrait below shows most of the family in denim, a less formal choice for a traditional photo, and Prince George looks like he's ready to go splash in some puddles with his rain boots. However, the children are still wearing collared shirts underneath their classic sweaters, and both Prince Louis and Princess Charlotte have the traditional buckled leather shoes. While their looks are sometimes more relaxed, they still closely mirror the previous generations.
In the above photo, Prince George is wearing a replica of the same outfit Prince William wore to meet his brother, (if you pay attention to the details, there are minor differences, such as the white buttons on Prince George's shorts). Prince George was also dressed similarly to his father for the christening of Prince Louis, wearing an outfit much like the one Prince William wore for the christening of Prince Harry. Dressing the royal children like their royal parents is an ongoing tradition and sometimes even the same articles of clothing are passed down from generation to generation. In fact, Princess Charlotte has been spotted in the same shoes as her uncle, Prince Harry, from the 1980s. However, since we know the royal family chooses timeless looks, the shoes are timeless, too.