Prince Charles expected to be an involved granddad to royal baby

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 29:  (L-R) Michael Middleton, Carole Middleton, Prince Charles, Prince of Wales holding bridesmaid Eliza Lopes and the Camilla...
From left, Carole Middleton, Prince Charles (holding his step-granddaughter Eliza Lopes) and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall on the balcony at Buckingham Palace after the wedding of Prince William to Catherine Middleton on April 29, 2011. Charles is expected to be an involved grandparent to the royal baby.WPA Pool / Today

Get the latest from TODAY

Sign up for our newsletter
By Rachel Elbaum

UPDATED: 7/24/2013

Grandpapa? Granddad? Your royal grandness? The jury is still out on what Prince Charles will be called now that he is a grandfather. But one thing is for sure: He will take a strong interest in his grandson.

From the time Duchess Kate's pregnancy was announced, Charles has been nothing but excited about his upcoming new role. “I’m thrilled, marvelous,” he said in early December just after the palace announced the duchess was expecting. “It's a very nice thought to become a grandfather in my old age, if I can say so.”

The prince has also shown that he’s open to learning from those with more experience. Last week, he asked a ladies group for tips during his annual tour of Wales. The women had plenty of helpful hints for the excited prince and he gave every indication that he plans to be an involved granddad.

"The great thing is to encourage them. Show them things to take their interest. My grandmother did that, she was wonderful," he said according to the Telegraph.

Indeed, Charles has to look no farther than his own family for grandparent role models: The Queen Mother often cared for him and his siblings while his parents traveled around the world on their royal duties. When she died, Charles called her “the most magical grandmother you could possibly have.”

Although this is Charles' first grandchild, he has had plenty of practice as a step-grandfather, thanks to his wife, Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall: Camilla has five grandchildren from her children Tom and Laura. 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.

“Charles was present for the births of his own sons, and spent a lot of time with them when they were younger,” said royal watcher Carolyn Harris, who runs the blog “He has a real love of the natural world that he gave to his sons, so it wouldn’t surprise me to see him introducing his new grandchild to outdoor activities like walks in the countryside, gardening, hunting and fishing.”

Despite her full schedule, Queen Elizabeth 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.

“It’s grandmother first and queen second,” William said in an ITV documentary celebrating the queen’s Diamond Jubilee last year.

William and the queen are especially close. After their mother Diana’s death, the queen took an even more active role in William and Harry’s lives. William met with her weekly while he was a student at Eton, not far from Windsor Palace.

His first cousins, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, also speak warmly of their “granny.” To mark her grandmother’s Diamond Jubilee, Beatrice spent about a year renovating a little cottage on the grounds of Windsor Castle that the queen, and later her children and grandchildren, played in as a child.

Then there are the royal baby’s other grandparents, the middle-class Middletons, who have been accepted into William’s family. “The Middleton influence on this child will be undoubtedly quite strong,” said Sally Bedell Smith, author of “Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch.” “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.” Kate has been spotted shopping with her mother Carole for baby paraphernalia, and the Middetons recently moved into a new home in the countryside with plenty of room for little ones to play.

Interestingly, this will be the first time since 1894 that there are three generations of heirs in line for the throne.

“With longer life expectencies, royal children will spend more time with grandparents and great-grandparents,” said Harris. “Charles has shown in recent years that he has a playful side, and that will undoubtedly help him connect to his grandchildren.”