July 24, 2013 at 8:54 AM ET
There was plenty of joy outside St. Mary's hospital's Lindo Wing Monday, the site of the royal baby's birth. But some of the most jubilant faces were those of the royal grandparents.
"He's absolutely beautiful," Kate's mom Carole Middleton beamed as she and husband Michael left the hospital. "They're both doing really well. We're so thrilled."
The newborn prince can expect doting, hands-on grandparents both royal and commoner, enjoying the best of both worlds when it comes to getting royally spoiled.
While Prince George is very much royalty — third in line to become king of England, after his father and grandfather — the baby will have a strong relationship with his maternal grandparents, who are expected to have a significant presence in his life. Carole, 58, a coal miner’s granddaughter, has been characterized as a hands-on parent to Kate and her siblings. The duchess and her mother remain close; Kate spent days at the tail end of her pregnancy at her family home in Bucklebury, and will reportedly spend time with her family in Berkshire after William’s paternity leave ends.
“The Middleton influence on this child will be undoubtedly quite strong,” Sally Bedell Smith, author of “Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch” told TODAY.com. “Over the years that he has been with Kate, William has been able to go there and enjoy an ordinary, middle-class family life. His children will be able to do the same.”
Duchess Kate's approachable, reasonable demeanor — a Middleton trait — has been applauded by many in the royal circle. Prince William's godfather, King Constantine of Greece, 73, admires Kate's down-to-earth qualities. "From what I've seen, she's a highly sensible young lady," he told TODAY. "She's got this thing that I admire, which is a sense of responsibility — without acting it."
In recent months, Kate has been spotted shopping with her mother Carole for baby paraphernalia such as a Moses basket, and the Middetons recently moved into a new home in the countryside with plenty of room for little ones to play.
"Carole will be instrumental," said TODAY royal contributor Camilla Tominey Wednesday. "I think there will be a lot of trips to Bucklebury."
The palace, experts said, will not object.
"Kate will have the ability...to go regularly home to see mum, and I think the palace will have learnt the lessons from a Diana experience, and will have to work around that," Stig Abell, former media advisor to the royal family, told TODAY.
When the royal baby's birth was announced Monday, Prince Charles, for one, could barely contain his excitement.
“Grandparenthood is a unique moment in anyone's life, as countless kind people have told me in recent months,” he said in a statement Monday about the new prince. “I am enormously proud and happy to be a grandfather for the first time and we are eagerly looking forward to seeing the baby in the near future."
Though this will be the first royal grandchild for Charles, he’s had some experience with little ones; his wife, Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, 66, has five grandchildren from her first marriage. In one of the most endearing moments of the royal wedding, Charles lifted up bridesmaid and step-granddaughter Eliza Lopes on the balcony of Buckingham Palace so she could get a view of the cheering crowds below.
While their royal duties keep them busy, Charles and Camilla spend a good deal of their free time with their families, the youngest members in particular. At a recent appearance, Camilla told schoolchildren how her grandchildren eat peas fresh from her vegetable garden.
Royal grandparents have traditionally played an important role in the lives of the heirs.
Prince Charles called the Queen Mother, who died in 2002, “the most magical grandmother you could possibly have.” The Queen Mother often cared for him and his siblings while his parents traveled around the world on their royal duties.
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And despite her full schedule, Queen Elizabeth, 87 — who released a statement Monday saying she's "delighted" by the baby news — is also known to play an active part in her grandchildren’s lives, even going horseback riding with her youngest grandchildren, Prince Edward’s children Louise and James, on occasion. She already has two great grandchildren from Princess Anne’s son, Peter, and another on the way from Zara Phillips.
Prince William speaks fondly of Queen Elizabeth with whom he's said to be very close; he visited with her frequently after his mother, Princess Diana, died.
“It’s grandmother first and queen second,” William said in an ITV documentary celebrating the queen’s Diamond Jubilee last year.
This will be the first time since 1894 that there are three generations of heirs in line for the throne. And with no announced plans to hire a nanny, Will and Kate could be opening the door for grandparents to put in some serious babysitting time.