While on a royal tour of Canada last week with 1-year-old sister Princess Charlotte, father Prince William and mother Kate Middleton, the 3-year-old donned shorts and Start-rite John leather lace-up shoes — a familiar silhouette that he has repeated with Papouelli Barnie loafers, too.
Speaking to Harper’s Bazaar, etiquette expert William Hanson said the English elite eschew trousers for young boys, lest they be considered “middle class.”
“Trousers are for older boys and men,” Hanson explained, “whereas shorts on young boys is one of those silent class markers that we have in England. 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.”
Citing a custom that began around the 16th century, Hanson added that boys usually graduate to full-length pants at 8 years old — a rite of passage and a signal of maturity and social status. “The British upper set are always keen to hold on to tradition, and this one also silently marks them out from ‘the rest’.”