It is one of the oddities of the Royal Family — shared by the majority of the English upper classes — that for many generations they have circumcised their male sons, invariably using a Mohel, the Jewish word for a circumcision practitioner. It was rarely done on medical grounds, nor on religious ones, but was a matter of class.
This has prompted some speculation as to whether the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will chose to follow suit. Understandably, Clarence House will not comment on such a private and delicate matter.
However, it is unlikely because the connection between class and circumcision, which continued up into the 1970s, has all but died out in Britain. Indeed by the time the Duke of Cambridge himself was born in 1982, it is understood that Diana, the Princess of Wales, refused to continue the tradition, in keeping with the then medical opinion that it was an unnecessary procedure whose risks outweighed any possible benefits.
The NHS now tries to guide parents away from the practice and the most recent figures suggest just 3.8 per cent of male babies are circumcised in the UK. This is down from a rate of 20 per cent in the 1950s, when there was a belief, especially among those who could afford to have it done privately, that it was more hygienic.
Nearly all of those now undertaking the practice do so on religious grounds — it is done by nearly all Muslims and Jews — as well as a few on cultural grounds.