The world is still cooing: Prince George is turning a year old, adored and adorable.

7304 91 14 LINKEDIN 5 COMMENTMORE

It's good to be a future king — as in Prince George of Cambridge, the toast of the world as he turns a year old on July 22.

The adorable and adored third-in-line to the British throne is even more a focus of obsessive interest today than he was when he arrived on Planet Mania last year, to be met by a cheering, roaring, sweating mob of media people and a delighted royal family.

He's the world's most famous baby but he's not the most photographed baby; Prince William and Duchess Kate are too protective for that.

That's why rare new pictures of him, at a butterfly exhibit at London's Natural History Museum, released on Saturday and Monday to mark his birthday, were greeted with such fervor, at least in the media and among his many fans.

But George is still high-profile, an historic baby even, who one day might reign as King George VII.

"A lot of people are jokingly saying, 'he's my little nephew,' " says Christine OBrien, whose blog, What Would Kate Do, follows mother-and-child closely. "A lot of people have taken up a kind of friendship role with Will and Kate and feel they can be a part of George's life, even if distantly."

Never mind trying to explain this phenomenon; just go with it.

George is "the world's most eligible infant," as Vanity Fair put it about their August cover star. His fashion sensibility is selling out baby goods everywhere, according to bloggers who track him (those Petit Bateau denim overalls he wore to the museum? All gone).

He's been showered with gifts, from a giant stuffed wombat and a mini sea-going boat to a first-ever $136 royal coin. Britain's most elite private schools are already competing to nab him as a future student, according to the Daily Mirror.

QUIZ: Are you qualified to be Prince George's nanny?

MATCH GAME: Guess Prince George's age in these pictures

Retailers invoke George's name to flog all kinds of stuff, from the mundane (Tetley Tea is giving away a box of British tea to any American named George who posts his or her baby picture on the company's Facebook wall by midnight Tuesday), to the most luxurious (George's Silver Cross pram is hand-made with polished chrome chassis, hand-stitched fabrics, hand-painted detailing — and costs $2,750).

George's baby duds — old-fashioned, expensive, classic British baby clothes like rompers, dungarees and baby booties — have got him named best-dressed royal by the U.K. baby website My1stYears.com.

He's even inspired a shift in baby retailing and buying in America, say OBrien and Lauren Greene, 25, and Christine Lairson, 22, two "very active members of the royal-watching community" in the USA. Their blog, PrinceGeorgePieces.com, took off soon after launching around the hugely successful Cambridge Down Under tour in April.

"Americans are looking for a classy look so opposite of what they see today," says Greene. "They think, 'if I dress my baby like this, hopefully I can reach the classy level that Kate has.' "

Greene and Lairson say American companies they work with are coming out with British-style baby stuff because of George, while their young-mom friends ask them about the Early Days baby shoes he wears, which are not only retro, they're about $50.

Match Game: Can you guess Prince George's age in these pictures?

"He's a complete game-changer," says Lairson. After he was seen wearing nautically-themed outfits, "he launched the nautical fashion trend...And his look is completely different from other celebrity babies — Blue Ivy is not going to come out wearing a smock romper with a Peter Pan collar."

What do we know about George's personality? Not muchbut here and there Kate or Will have dropped hints when chatting with well-wishers on walkabout: He cried a lot in the beginning and doesn't like vegetables unless they're mashed up , Kate confided to a teen girl during a hospice visit in New Zealand in April.​ ​Lately, Will said last week during an engagement in Coventry, George is charging around and opening doors, and is a handful at bath time. In other words, he's just like other babies.

What do we know about George's birthday plans? Not much more than speculation: About parties (we won't be invited); about whether Kate's brother James Middleton's cake-making business will provide cakes (if he does, he won't tell); and about what kinds of gifts George might get from the grand and good (eventually it will be public record but not for a while).

But the celebration is likely to be a low-key Middleton-based affair, as in much of George's life up to now, according to British royal correspondents and biographers such as Marcia Moody and Katie Nicholl.

In her Vanity Fair cover story, Nicholl writes that Will and Kate work hard to ensure his life is as normal and as media-free as possible (which is why the palace rarely confirms or denies anything about him).

"They take him to playdates at friends' houses," Nicholl reports. "Generally, the Cambridges keep below the radar in order to have a private life."

The Cambridge approach is to celebrate all birthdays and anniversaries behind closed doors, says OBrien, so the couple "will probably celebrate George's birthday privately" at Kensington Palace (where his nursery is said to be decorated in a Beatrix Potter theme). "We're unlikely to hear much."

There might also be a party at the Middleton estate in Bucklebury outside London, or maybe even at Anmer Hall, their country retreat in Norfolk far from the media hordes.

Certainly, George's birthday won't be like Will's first birthday, in June 1983, when Prince Charles and Princess Diana were on an official visit to Canada and they had to call home and talk to his nanny.

Despite the scarcity of facts, royal reporters have spent the last year vacuuming up every morsel of detail about the little prince and sending it out into a world hungry (Breaking news! He's walking!) for all it can get.

For some, such as the monarchy-skeptical Guardian newspaper, it's all nuts.

"There is something creepy about the fervor directed at Prince George. The media is, in this instance, behaving like that weirdo who stops you in the street to go on for slightly too long about how cute your baby is," wrote columnist Emma Brockes last week.

But this is only the beginning of a lifetime of scrutiny. The media will likely keep banging on about George because he's too much of a good thing, for retailers and readers, to let up on the coverage now.

Until another royal sibling comes along (and there's lots of speculation about that, too), George is all we've got. We're not letting go any time soon.

Anyway, who doesn't love a cute baby?

Autoplay
Show Thumbnails
Show Captions
7304 91 14 LINKEDIN 5 COMMENTMORE
Read or Share this story: http://usat.ly/1rwHQWm