Prince George stole the world's attention in an adorable series of birthday portraits released last week. And while seeing the future king balance barefoot on a large wooden swing was enough to elicit an outpouring of "awwws," there was a particular detail that endeared fans to the photo even more.
The swing that he proudly stood on was engraved with his parents' names ' William and Catherine' and was in fact a wedding gift to the royal couple in 2011. It was created by The Oak & Rope Company, a family business based in Kent.
Jeanette Aurdal Nieman, designer and managing director, had no idea that the swing would feature in the portraits and it came as a welcome surprise.
"The first I knew of it was when a journalist rang to say that he had seen a photograph of Prince George on a wooden swing, and if it was one of ours," Jeanette told HELLO! Online. "I simply stated that it probably was, as I know he has one. The journalist went on to say that he thought I sounded very calm about it, and had I seen the photographs myself, as they were everywhere... I was running a bit behind packing for our family holiday... and had not..."
She knew that George owned a swing because Oak & Rope was commissioned to make one for Prince William and Kate's wedding in 2011 – something that made her "really excited".
"Even though we were a very young and small company then, I made the conscious decision not to discuss this with anybody, and made this clear to everybody working for Oak & Rope too," she said."It was a personal present, and we thought it deserved to remain a private matter."
Jeanette, who was "thrilled" to see the swing included in George's portraits, said that she has seen a "significant upturn" in business as a result of the pictures, "but nothing we can't deal with".
The hand-crafted oak garden swing comes in three different sizes and can also be made in a round version. The medium sized one, which George sits on, is "large enough for most grown-ups but fine for young children too" and currently retails on notonthehighstreet.com for $494.
Jeanette, who founded the family business, knew that she wanted to be a carpenter from the age of six, growing up in Norway. After working in the City in London with her husband, they moved to a farm in Elham and shortly after welcomed their daughter.
On her company website she writes: "We renovated the farm house and I was finally able to get back to my passion of creating things in wood. On the day of making the first swing I even remembered the skill of rope platting (splicing) that my grandfather taught me as a child. All of these skills, woodworking, rope work, business skills and my passion for creating new and interesting designs now came together."
The idea of starting her own carpentry business stemmed from the need to produce something unique and special for a friend's birthday. Jeanette found a piece of oak and some rope in her workshop, played around with the tools that she had inherited from her father-in-law, and created a swing. She then carved her friend's name into it.
"The response not just from the recipient, but also those attending filled me with a sense of pride and accomplishment," wrote Jeanette, who carved every single letter during her company's first year of production.
Nowadays the designer ships her products all around the world and while she doesn't disclose who her famous clients are, Jeanette writes: "Royal patrons and famous bottoms are sitting on our swings and benches."