There was no accident in Prince William's seemingly effortless, got-it-right-first-go installation of baby Prince George's capsule in the family Range Rover this week.
The heir to the throne had been well prepared for his first public ''fathering test'', reportedly boning up on fatherhood by reading Commando Dad: Basic Training. Written by a former British Commando, the book is billed as a training manual for new recruits to fatherhood and advocates applying military precision to parenting.
"A commando dad is a hands on dad," author Neil Sinclair told Fairfax Media. "That's the best bit of advice I could offer. Everything I have seen and heard would lead me to believe Prince William has prepared himself to step up from day one."
Does being present at the royal baby's birth, taking two weeks' paternity leave and eschewing the help of a nanny already make 31-year-old Prince William the modern involved and loving father?
"The fact he's boned up on it, read a book, held the baby [outside the hospital], indicates 'I'm part of this, this isn't her baby, it's our baby'," parenting educator Michael Grose said.
It's a stark contrast to his father, Prince Charles - who attended both his sons' births but left their day-to-day care to a nanny and Diana, Princess of Wales - and underlines the changing role of fatherhood in society.
''Fathers a generation ago didn't have the expectation you would be hands-on,'' Richard Fletcher from the University of Newcastle's Family Action Centre said. ''Dads today talk about wanting to have a connection with their kids, not just change a few nappies. It's partly a shift in culture, and it's more obvious now that men get a lot of enjoyment and satisfaction out of their kids.''It's common for fathers today to speak about ''when we were in labour'', have legislated paternity leave, do school drop-offs and pick-ups and even spend some time as the primary carer while their wife pursues her career.
Mr Grose said fathers generally said they wanted to have a better relationship with their children than they had with their fathers, which led them to play a more active parenting role.
Sinclair said new fathers often feel they are being judged. "Imagine what it feels like for William to have the whole world watching!'' he said.
Sinclair said he felt honoured Prince William was using his book. "Knowing my advice is being taken by a future king of England, to help him bring up another future king of England is incredible," he said.
- FFX Aus
Is it ever OK to complain about other people's kids?Related story: (See story)