As cool as it would be to have a royal title, the reality of constantly being photographed and under public scrutiny is a daunting one. But for the children of Prince William and Kate Middleton, having photographers follow them around during official events is already part of their lives. Although the royal kids are used to attending fancy events and meeting with public officials, it's difficult to tell if they're aware of how much of a big deal their family really is. In fact, at some point fans of the royals have probably wondered: Does Princess Charlotte know she's a princess? It turns out her family wants her to have as much normalcy as possible.
As TIME reported, the second-eldest child of Prince William and Duchess Kate — who happens to be fourth in line to the British throne — celebrated her third birthday on May 2. (To mark the occasion, Kensington Palace released an official portrait of the smiling birthday girl from earlier this year. What a cutie!) And I'm betting that at age 3, Princess Charlotte has noticed by now that cameras tend to follow her family around more often than other people.
However, even if she understands her family is different than most others, Princess Charlotte is probably still a bit young to realize the full impact of the title "princess."
Catherine Mayer, the author of Charles: The Heart of a King, has said the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are attempting to make their kids' lives as normal as possible while they're still young, as E! News reported. This desire, according to Mayer, stems from Prince William knowing how difficult it was for his father, Prince Charles, (as a child) to come to terms with the fact that he would become king one day. With Prince George especially (and to a lesser degree, Princess Charlotte and baby Prince Louis), Prince William and Duchess Kate are reportedly "trying to delay that moment of realization and give him normality before they thrust this on him," according to E! News.
A 2017 interview with a "family insider" seems to echo this statement, as Us Weekly reported. “While they feel it’s important to make them aware of their backgrounds,” the insider told the publication, “it’s also vital for both George and Charlotte to have as much normalcy in their lives as possible.”
Here's another interesting tidbit: Princess Charlotte loves to play with Disney princesses, the same source told Us Weekly — and at the time, she was still unaware that she was a princess herself. “Whenever the housekeeper or Kate are preparing food, Charlotte needs her own toy set by her side to imitate,” the insider told the publication. Among Princess Charlotte's favorite toys during this imitation of her mom/the housekeeper, according to the source, were sets of wooden toys and again, anything related to Disney princesses. “I don’t think it’s quite dawned on her that she’s a princess herself," the insider added.
While she may not be fully aware that she's a real-life princess, it's pretty clear Princess Charlotte is already being trained in the ways of a royalty. I mean, she already has her royal wave down pat — as she adorably smiles and waves at crowds of people during official appearances. And she even told off photographers as the royal family was arriving for Prince Louis' christening, according to The Sun. She adorably said with so much sass, "You're not coming!"
So at age 3, the young royal already has experience telling off the paparazzi — a skill I'm sure will come in handy down the road.
If you think about it, discussing with a child that they're literally a princess — and attempting to convey the full weight of this responsibility — seems like a pretty daunting task that's best put off until the kid is old enough to handle it. (Let them just be young and innocent for as long as possible, right?) I would venture to compare it to spilling the beans about Santa Claus, or maybe even "the talk" about puberty/the "birds and the bees."
To be fair, though, the pressure of having a royal title will probably weigh more heavily on Princess Charlotte's older brother, Prince George, who is third in line to the throne. For now, it seems the second child of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge is blissfully unaware of the fact that she's a princess — and per her parents' wishes, let's hope it stays that way for a while longer.