Prince George has picked up the Estuary accent of Ricky Gervais and Jamie Oliver, speech experts have claimed, after he was featured in a video with Sir David Attenborough.
The Duke of Cambridge’s eldest son was heard speaking on Saturday when he and his siblings Charlotte, five, and Louis, two, quizzed Sir David about nature in a video shared by Kensington Palace.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s kids quizzed Sir David Attenborough about animals in the heartwarming video; as part of their gradual introduction to Royal duties.
But some viewers were surprised by the kids’ accents, which weren’t as close to the Queen’s English as they had expected.
Prof Jane Setter – who teaches phonetics at Reading University – said: “The accent they have, particularly George, sounds very like Southern Standard British English with some features of Estuary English.
“This is not unexpected as William and Harry both have features of Estuary English in their accent.
“The only feature of Estuary English George has in this very short clip is a vocalised /l/ – so a vowel at the end of ‘animal’ rather than the /l/ sound – and this is a feature of Estuary English.”
She added: “Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis both sound entirely typical for children of their age from a Standard Southern British English accent background.
“I would suggest it will be necessary to wait until they are all much older before any comments can be made on whether they sound posh.”
Southern Standard British English is a modern name for Received Pronunciation, also known as the Queen’s English.
The International Phonetic Association defines it as: “An accent of the south east of England which operates as a prestige norm there and (to varying degrees) in other parts of the British Isles and beyond.”
By contrast, Estuary English is somewhere between Southern Standard English and Cockney.
Prof Setter added: “Among younger British Royals, here seems to be a move away from the very old-fashioned Received Pronunciation usually associated with Royal voices, but it’s hard to predict exactly how these children will sound when they are older as they will be influenced by whoever they go to school with and whoever is in their social group.”
Prince George and Princess Charlotte go to Thomas’s Battersea, a posh private school in south London.
Dr Geoff Lindsey – a speak coach, plus phonetics and pronunciation specialist – added: “Estuary English would tend to pronounce the ‘a’ in ‘David’ in a very open way, roughly halfway towards Cockney Die-vid.
“George doesn’t do this.
“Also, many Estuary speakers would turn the ‘t’ on the end of ‘what’ into a glottal stop (the catch in the throat which is famous in Cockney ‘bu’er’ for ‘butter’), whereas George pronounces a real ‘t’.
“The main feature in George’s speech which is vaguely Estuary-ish is ‘L vocalisation’.
“This means pronouncing final L rather like ‘w’, so that ‘animal’ becomes more like ‘animaw’.
“However this is very widespread nowadays: you can hear it in the speech of Boris Johnson and George’s father, Prince William.
“Prince Louis pronounces ‘like’ in a rather Estuary-ish way, so that it begins more like ‘lark’ than ‘lack’.
“Again, his father Prince William does exactly the same thing.
“Charlotte doesn’t do this.
“Her ‘like’ begins more like ‘lack’ than ‘lark’. In this respect she sounds posher than George and Louis, just as Kate sounds posher than William and Harry.”