Whenever Prince George makes an appearance, the pictures are immediately shared around the globe—he must be the most recognizable three-year-old on the planet. But despite the number of pictures that you've undoubtedly cooed over, there might be one thing about his style that you've never noticed: he's always wearing shorts.
There's a very specific reason for this. There's a tradition among the English upper class, aristocracy, and royals to dress young boys in shorts—it's often considered decidedly "suburban" not to do so.
"It's a very English thing to dress a young boy in shorts," explains the etiquette expert William Hanson. "Trousers are for older boys and men, 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."
The tradition can be traced back throughout the royal family, with Princes William and Harry also seen regularly wearing shorts until they were deemed old enough to progress to full-length pants.
"The usual custom is that a boy graduates to trousers around eight years old," explains Hanson. "This is, historically, perhaps due to the practice of 'breeching,' which dates back to the sixteenth century. A newborn boy would be dressed in a gown for their first year or two (these gowns have survived as the modern Christening robe), and then he was 'breeched' and wore articles of clothing that more resembled shorts or trousers than dresses."
Ultimately, in the case of today's modern royal family, this is more likely down to tradition than an issue of class.
"The modern habit of upper class families choosing to dress their boys in shorts will deliberately hark back to a bygone age. The British upper set are always keen to hold on to tradition, and this one also silently marks them out from 'the rest.'"
This article originally appeared on HarpersBazaar.co.uk. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.