Playdates for the Royal Baby: Kate and William’s Friends with Tots

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Eddie Keogh / REUTERS

Bridesmaids Grace van Cutsem (second from left) and Margarita Armstrong-Jones with pageboy Billy Lowther-Pinkerton and Maid of Honour Pippa Middleton travel to Buckingham Palace after the royal wedding in 2011

There must be something in the Buckingham Palace water: The British royal family currently includes no fewer than seven children under the age of six. So the next member of the family — due pretty much any day now — won’t have to look far to find pedigreed playmates. They include:

  • Savannah, age two, and Isla, who is one, both of whom are the daughters of Princess Anne’s son, Peter Phillips, and his wife Autumn.
  • Six-year-old Lola and three-year-old Freddy, the offspring of food writer Tom Parker-Bowles (son of Prince Charles’ wife Camilla) and his wife Sara Buys, an editor.
  • Five-year-old Eliza, who was a bridesmaid at William and Kate’s wedding in 2011, and three-year-old twins Gus and Louis, the three children of Camilla’s daughter Laura Lopes and her husband Harry.
  • Lord Frederick Windsor, 34, a financial analyst who is 38th in line to the throne, and his wife, actress Sophie Winkleman, are expecting a child in August.
  • And lastly, the Queen’s granddaughter, Zara Phillips, who is currently 14th in line to the throne, is expecting her first child with rugby player Mike Tindall in early 2014.

Despite this plethora of playpals, royal biographer Penny Junor thinks that the royal baby’s friends will mainly come from outside the confines of the royal family. That’s because, she says, Princes William and Harry have been much freer to make normal friends than their royal predecessors—like Prince Charles—who lived in a much more closeted environment. “I think their friends are much more the people they have known,” she says. “Their school friends, their university friends.”

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While the Duke and Duchess’ friends took up 97 spaces on the guestlist for 2011’s royal wedding, only a handful of them currently have young children. Those friends include:

  • Hugh Van Cutsem, whose family has been friends of the royals for over 40 years. (Hugh’s father attended Cambridge University with Prince Charles.) He and his wife Rose have an 18-month-old son named Charlie, as well as two older children.
  • 32-year-old Sam Waley-Cohen, a close friend of both the Duke and the Duchess as well as a successful jockey and founder of a chain of dental practices. He has a 4-month-old son, Max, with his wife, party organizer Bella.
  • Event rider Harry Meade, William’s school friend from Eton College. William and Kate went on a skiing holiday with Meade and his teacher wife Rosie this past March. Kate, five months pregnant at the time, looked after the couple’s 18-month-old daughter, Lily Florence, while her parents hit the slopes.
  • Alice St. John Webster, who played tennis with Kate at Marlborough College and has remained close, gave birth to a baby girl in 2012.
  • Trini Foyle, another school friend who has been pictured in public with Kate several times, has an 18-month-old son, Alexander, with her husband Ted.

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The royal child will also have plenty of opportunities to make friends during his or her school years. The parents of those children could find themselves lunching with Kate and her child, says Junor, and even be invited to playdates at Kensington Palace – as parents of the young William’s friends were.

As he got older, William would also go on vacation with other peoples’ families or spend weekend breaks with them. But any parents allowed (accompanied by royal protection officers) to take the royal child on a family trip would be well advised to be discreet, says Junor. “If a family had told the press that they had got William or Harry coming to spend the weekend, they would never have them again, you can bet your socks on that.”

In the end, the royal baby’s friends will most likely reflect the way the Duke and Duchess are trying to live their lives, says Junor – as normally as possible. “This is a very modern couple, and they will just be like ordinary people,” she says.

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