Saturday 27 December 2014

Prince William's hospital shirt suggests a different style of parenthood

Dress code pays homage but shows times, and parenting, have changed.

Luke Leitch

Published 24/07/2013 | 08:57

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JULY 23: Prince William Duke of Cambridge and Catherine Duchess of Cambridge depart The Lindo Wing with their newborn son at St Mary's Hospital on July 23, 2013 in London, England. The Duchess of Cambridge yesterday gave birth to a boy at 16.24 BST and weighing 8lb 6oz, with Prince William at her side. The baby, as yet unnamed, is third in line to the throne and becomes the Prince of Cambridge. . (Photo by Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images)
Prince William wore dark blue trousers held up with a jazzy, Aztec patterned belt completed an ensemble topped with his favourite off-duty garment, an entirely inoffensive light blue shirt.

Kate Middleton's s choice of dress outside St Mary's Hospital gave a nod to the past; for Prince William, a different style of parenthood.

The new mother chose polka dots, her husband rolled his sleeves up - but both wore beaming smiles.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge emanated pride and happiness as they showed off their tiny son to the world yesterday.

As the white-swathed future king made his debut, his parents, through their choice of clothes, also seemed to nod to the past while emphasising the present.

The new mother chose a specially made dress by the British designer Jenny Packham, whose office sent out a press release within minutes of its first appearance in the Lindo Wing's doorway.

Cut with cool, short sleeves and a forgiving empire line waist, the crêpe de Chine design was a lightweight garment that nonetheless seemed to transmit a telling message.

For 31 years ago, when Prince William himself was a babe in arms, his own mother wore a very similarly patterned - but much more fussily designed - frock as she faced photographers outside the Lindo Wing.

Because the Packham dress was bespoke, and therefore handmade to the Duchess's precise specifications, that white on blue polka-dot reprise was surely no coincidence. The only thing left to chance was the weather, which obliged the Duchess anyway; a light breeze toyed with her freshly blow-dried hair as photogenically as any studio wind machine could have.

The Duke of Cambridge, by contrast, seemed to have thrown his look together. Dark blue trousers held up with a jazzy, Aztec patterned belt completed an ensemble topped with his favourite off-duty garment, an entirely inoffensive light blue shirt.

It was the way he wore it, sleeves tightly rolled up to the elbow semaphored only one intention: to get stuck into fatherhood.

Compared to his father, who with the Duchess of Cornwall had appeared outside the Lindo Wing earlier sporting a grey bespoke suit and a purple pocket square, he looked positively rough around the edges. Indeed, on this very spot in 1982, the Prince of Wales had also dressed up to the nines as he presented William to the world - that day he went for pinstripes, a buttonhole and a firmly knotted tie.

Times have changed though and fathering styles - as well as dress codes - have become more informal.

Yesterday, the Duke's shirtsleeves suggested he was worried less about appearance than facing up to the nitty-gritty of caring for a new baby. This impression was only strengthened by his impressive facility with the baby seat, so easily fitted inside the Range Rover that they departed minutes later.

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