Royals to mark Prince George's first birthday

Britain's Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, carries her son Prince George alongside Prince William as they visit the Sensational Butterflies exhibition at the Natural History Museum in London earlier this month. Prince George celebrates his first birthday on July 22. REUTERS/John Stillwell/Pool
Britain's Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, carries her son Prince George alongside Prince William as they visit the Sensational Butterflies exhibition at the Natural History Museum in London earlier this month. Prince George celebrates his first birthday on July 22. REUTERS/John Stillwell/Pool

He has graced the cover of Vanity Fair, charmed world leaders on jetsetting tours, is already a national fashion icon - and he is about to celebrate his first birthday.

Prince George, the son of Prince William and his wife Kate, turns one on Tuesday (local time) as betting hots up that his parents will soon announce a royal sibling.

No public celebrations are planned for the birthday, although the Royal Mint will strike a commemorative sterling silver 5-pound coin to mark the occasion.

A private party will take place at the family home in Kensington Palace.

Last Saturday, William's office released an official picture to coincide with the birthday, showing George in a pair of blue dungarees, walking towards the camera and already bearing a strong resemblance to his father.

His mother Kate has been the focus of recent media attention with a surge in bets that she is expecting a second child. Bookmaker Coral suspended betting last Tuesday following an overnight flurry of bets that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, as they are formally known, will announce a pregnancy this month.

"Suspending betting on William and Kate announcing baby No.2 has caused a betting frenzy, with punters racing to place bets on the gender and baby name," said a Coral spokeswoman.

George, third-in-line to the British throne, has spent most of his first year away from the glare of the international media spotlight. His only public appearances have been to attend a polo match on Father's Day in the United Kingdom, and during a royal tour of Australia and New Zealand.

"Prince William guards his son's privacy jealously - he does not want to over-expose the young prince and is conscious that his son will have a lifetime in the public eye," said royal correspondent Robert Jobson, author of "The New Royal Family: Prince George, William and Kate, The next generation."

Jobson also noted that although the royal wedding in 2011 and Queen Elizabeth's 2012 Diamond Jubilee had boosted the royal family's popularity, media coverage of George's birth lifted their public image to "a new level".

"A younger generation is now interested in royalty where before George it would not have been on their radar," Jobson told Reuters.

The popularity of the young prince boosted high-street sales during his royal tour in April. Copycat versions of his luxury branded outfits flew off the shelves in British stores, with the trend dubbed the Prince George effect.

George's arrival last year triggered frenzied coverage from global media who camped for days on the doorstep of the London hospital where he was born, as well as celebratory gun salutes and the illumination of London landmarks in blue.

Following the birth, opinion polls showed record royalist support in Britain, with Elizabeth more popular than at any stage of her 62-year reign - a marked change from 1997 when royal popularity slumped after the death in a car crash of Princess Diana, mother of William and his party-loving brother Harry.

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