HE’S the cheeky young royal who has stolen all of our hearts – the little boy with the huge personality, who sparked a thousand memes when he made his Buckingham Palace debut for his great-grandmother Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations last year.
And next Sunday, Prince Louis turns five.
It’s a significant moment for Louis Arthur Charles, fourth in line to the throne, although if his parents have anything to do with it, he will not even know he is “royal” or what that means.
The Prince and Princess of Wales have fiercely protected Louis’ privacy – just as they have with his big brother Prince George, nine, and seven-year-old sister Princess Charlotte – and have strived to ensure all three grow up as “normal” as possible.
Yet through Kate’s pictures, released on birthdays or special days such as Mother’s Day and Christmas, we have gradually got to know the big-hearted boisterous Louis – or “Lou Lou” as his siblings affectionately call him.
And royal fans will be delighted that “Boss Baby”, as they have nicknamed him, will be back in all his glory for his grandfather King Charles’ Coronation at Westminster Abbey on May 6.
While George and Charlotte’s attendance in three weeks’ time was never in doubt, it wasn’t clear what Louis’ participation would be, due to his young age – until it was revealed that all three of the Wales children will be in the carriage procession from Westminster Abbey to Buckingham Palace.
It’s also expected that the three children will appear on the balcony, along with William and Kate, the King and the Queen Consort, to further emphasise the succession and continuity of monarchy.
Of course, it was Louis’ balcony moment last year that cemented his place in the nation’s affection.
Who can forget the young Prince, dressed in a sailor suit, standing right next to the Queen, sweetly putting his hands over his ears and screaming at the top of his lungs as the RAF jets roared overhead after Trooping The Colour?
He further stole the show a couple of days later with his antics during the parade.
He sang, danced, cheekily wagged his finger at his mother after she remonstrated with him, and generally had a ball – and set social media alight with thousands of memes in the process.
Pity poor Kate trying to keep Louis interested for what must have felt like interminable hours as the parade passed by.
But royal fans raced to praise her for being just like us, and managing the situation so well.
Even his parents acknowledged just how much of a star he was, in a funny post after the events celebrating Queen Elizabeth II’s 70 years on the throne.
“We all had an incredible time, especially Louis…” they tweeted from their official Kensington Royal account.
Since his birth on St George’s Day in 2018 at London’s St Mary’s hospital, Kate and William have been a little more relaxed at releasing more pictures of Louis than his elder siblings, perhaps because he’s the youngest of the Wales trio.
But his privacy is still protected by Kate pretty much always taking the pictures – and any that are released are tightly controlled.
His christening was held at St James’ Chapel Royal, and dressed in a replica of the Royal Christening Gown made in 1841 for Queen Victoria’s daughter, he fell fast asleep.
In 2018, to mark his grandpa’s 70th birthday, the then-Cambridges and Sussexes posed for a family photo, but it was the picture of a delighted and gurgling Louis in the arms of the future King that really delighted royal watchers.
As we now know, behind the scenes all was not well between the formerly Fab Four – Kate, William, Harry and Meghan.
The book Finding Freedom describes the logistics of arranging the snap as an “absolute nightmare”.
Prior to this, in the months leading up to Harry and Meghan’s 2018 wedding, Kate and Meghan had their now-infamous bridesmaid dress row.
Charlotte’s dress didn’t fit – it was allegedly “too big, too long [and] too baggy” – and Kate asked Meghan to have it remade.
Kate, who had only recently given birth to Louis, was running on little sleep and, about to appear before the world stage at Harry and Meghan’s wedding, was apparently left in tears by Meghan’s response.
The story goes that when Kate took round flowers after the wedding to apologise, Meghan promptly dumped them in the bin.
When Harry and Meghan announced their plans to give up their royal roles in early 2020, William and Kate felt under even more pressure to put their own family on display at public events, in an attempt to steady the ship of constitutional monarchy.
Prince Louis had already stolen the hearts of the public at his very first Trooping The Colour balcony appearance the year before, when the then-one-year-old was seen excitedly waving and pointing to the crowd, and also clapping during the royal flypast.
And royal fans were treated to his first public steps in May that same year, after Kate took her children to visit the garden that she had helped design at the 2019 RHS Chelsea Flower Show.
But it was after Harry and Meghan’s announcement to step back as senior royals in January 2020 that we really got to see the cheeky side of the little prince.
In March 2020, as lockdown began, the family retreated to their country home, Anmer Hall in Norfolk, and it afforded Kate and William unspoilt time with their children.
Despite the reassuring presence of nanny Maria Borrallo, work and royal duties have always been organised around the children.
Even on secondments at MI5, MI6 and GCHQ in 2019, it was made very clear to the spooks that William had to leave on time to do the school run, otherwise “he’d be in trouble with his wife”.
Tours have been arranged so they can leave after dropping the children at school and be back in time for weekend sports matches.
So lockdown offered an unprecedented opportunity for unlimited family time.
Second birthday pictures of Louis making rainbow handprints for NHS workers – and an admission that Kate herself ended up covered in paint – only added to the homespun charm.
The insights into life at Anmer Hall revealed domestic life not far from our own.
Ultimately, no matter their privilege, Kate and William were also parents trying to homeschool their young children, admitting that it was hard to explain what was going on during lockdown.
William confessed he struggled to do his children’s maths work and keep everything going, and in doing so, showed the nation they are down-to-earth, modern royals.
Like most families, the Waleses have their own dynamics.
A friend says: “George is quite serious and quiet, while Charlotte is absolutely in charge of the boys.
“She has a very definite sense of right and wrong, what to do and what not to do – and isn’t afraid to tell her brothers!
“Louis is still the baby, and will probably always be treated as such, so does get away with more.
“Kate is very much a devotee of gentle parenting with firm boundaries and lots of fun.
“They are all very sporty and compete most weekends at swimming, gymnastics, football, tennis and cricket as part of their school teams.
“Fellow parents have got used to either William or Kate turning up to watch.”
The children have enjoyed an idyllic outdoors childhood – riding and sailing in the Norfolk countryside, learning to swim in the Anmer pool and enjoying long days on the beach.
And it was in December 2020 that the Waleses made their first red-carpet engagement as a family of five – to attend a pantomime show that was being held to say thank you to frontline workers – and two-year-old Louis coped with the crowds and cameras admirably.
William and Kate have always chosen to teach their children the royal ropes by observation and learning little by little. A panto was the perfect first experience.
Another picture taken by Kate was chosen for his third birthday in 2021 – this time to mark his first day at Willcocks Nursery School, complete with all-blue shirts and shorts, backpack, red Frog bike, and a big, cheeky grin.
By that point his personality was really starting to emerge – from a concentrated frown as he sifted flour to make cupcakes for a Cardiff Jubilee party last June and enthusiastic waving from his first Trooping The Colour carriage ride the same month, to his seemingly boundless energy at the Jubilee parade.
After the Queen’s death last September, the new Princess of Wales shared a sweet story about Louis’ stoicism.
In footage shared on TikTok, Kate could be heard telling a member of the public: “The whole nation is having to be brave,” following the monarch’s death.
“She then said that Prince Louis had told her comfortingly that the Queen was “now with Great-Grandpa”, and said his words were “so sweet”, while looking visibly emotional.
Breaking with royal tradition, William and Kate have chosen not to send their children to boarding school – although they are open to sending them in the future, if that is what the children wish – and all three children started at Lambrook School in Berkshire last autumn, after the family moved to Adelaide Cottage on the Windsor estate last year.
Like their parents, the three are competitive and sporty, with Kate revealing Louis is “mad about rugby” and loves “running around”.
She even admitted that she joins the children jumping on the family trampoline before school.
Louis is in his first school year at Lambrook, and is expected to have a fifth birthday party with his school friends in the garden of Adelaide Cottage next weekend.
Grandma Carole Middleton, who founded party planning firm Party Pieces, is thought to be helping Kate with the theme and all-important goody bags.
According to The Sun‘s royal photographer, Arthur Edwards, who has been covering the family for decades, Louis takes after his uncle, Prince Harry.
Arthur says that while Prince George is more like his father, Prince William, as a child, Louis has Harry’s exuberant spirit.
He explains: “George is like William, because William was very shy. Louis is like Harry – at the Jubilee, he was the star of the show!”
Arthur, 82, who was awarded an MBE in 2003 in recognition of his services to newspapers, says Kate has incredible talent behind the camera.
“She’s a really excellent photographer. She’s taken some great pictures of her children, and she shares them with us, which is nice,” he says.
So what does this mean we can expect at next month’s coronation?
Well, it would be amazing to see Louis gambolling down the aisle at the Abbey, or perhaps doing a little jig to some of the choral music.
Maybe he’ll happily wave and smile on the balcony – and hopefully not cry that it’s too loud!
One thing is for sure though: he’ll be sassy, he’ll be silly, he’ll be uncompromisingly and unapologetically Louis – and we’ll love him all the more for it.
Happy birthday, Boss Baby.