8 Things Kate and William Have Done to Give Their Kids a "Normal Life"
Here's how the Cambridges have given George, Charlotte, and Louis a sense of normalcy.
Whatever their royal responsibilities may be, Kate Middleton and Prince William have never let anything get in the way of their determination to give their children—Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis—as normal a childhood as possible. Their great-grandmother might be Queen Elizabeth, but thanks to their doting parents, the Cambridge kids have learned to love life's simple pleasures, like reading with dad and cooking as a family. "Considering the huge wealth and privilege at their disposal, it's refreshing to see how important it is to William and Catherine to raise their children to appreciate the little things in life, like a day spent in the garden or having friends over for tea," said one royal insider. "They're brilliant parents who are raising happy children who know they are loved."
William and Kate come from different backgrounds that have shaped their desire to become hands-on parents. Kate was raised in an upper middle class home in an incredibly tight-knit family whereas William's childhood, besides being dictated largely by tradition and duty, was marred by his parents' unhappy marriage and contentious divorce. "William's personal experiences with his parents and the comfort and security he has found with the Middletons has had a tremendous effect on what type of father he wants to be," said my source. "Catherine is only too happy to rely on her family for support and views their way of doing things as a model for her own family. Together, William and Catherine are very committed parents whose children are always their first priority." Here's a look at the things these royal parents have done to give their kids a blissfully "normal" childhood. And for more on Will and Kate, check out William and Kate's Most Adorable Couples Moments Through the Years.
They do their own school runs.
The morning drop off and afternoon pick up at school is a part of daily life for most parents of young children, and the Cambridges are no exception. In 2019, a source told Express, William and Kate do the school runs "pretty much every day." When the children were younger, they often split their shifts with each of them getting either George or Charlotte off to their respective schools.
Last September, they made it a charming (and color-coordinated) family affair when both Mummy and Daddy accompanied George, 6, and Charlotte, 5, for their first day of school—in honor of the first time the siblings would be attending Thomas's Battersea together. Sometimes, William takes charge, as he did when Kate had to miss Prince George's first day of school when she was suffering from extreme morning sickness while pregnant with Prince Louis. Earlier this year, Kate was spotted ferrying the kids back and forth while William was at Sandringham negotiating the terms of "Megxit." And for more on that, check out How Coronavirus Changed Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's Royal Exit.
There are play dates and birthday parties at Kensington Palace.
George is reportedly a popular pupil at school and, according to The Sun, has had play dates with his closest pals including his cousin, Maud Windsor, at Kensington Palace. His non-royal friends (and their parents) have to be thoroughly checked out before any date is set in the Cambridges' diary. But what's a pesky background check when you get to play Legos with a future king?
"It is wonderful for them—and their parents—to go to such a beautiful and historic palace and have the run of the place," a royal insider told The Sun. "But it does involve a bit more planning than a normal play date, as everyone visiting the palace has to be security vetted." For his sixth birthday last July, Hello reported George invited his entire class to a soccer-themed party. And for more insights into the royals' favorite athletic past times, check out The Secret Ways All of the British Royals Stay Fit.
There are always bedtime stories.
The beloved ritual of reading bedtime stories to his children holds a special place in William's heart. In February, while on an official visit to Mumbles in South Wales, he revealed he reads to his growing brood "all the time" and that one of the children's favorites is Room on the Broom, a story about a witch who invites animals to travel with her on her broom, by Julia Donaldson. When the prince met Donaldson at a ceremony at Buckingham Palace in 2018, where she received her CBE for services to literature, he told the author, "Do you realize how many parents you have saved at bedtime?" He also told Donaldson another of her books, The Gruffalo, had been a "big hit" with the young Cambridges.
William really seems to know his way around a children's library. He has also said, "David Walliams also does good books for children—for a little bit older children I think. I've read one and it was really, really good."
They're not afraid of discipline.
One of every parent's worst nightmares is having to discipline their kids in public. Interestingly, most times, when we've seen the Cambridge kids get a talking to, it's almost always Kate who is laying down the law. Many of those incidents usually happen in front of huge crowds and are often caught on camera during special events with the royal family. Kate's most memorable moment handling an unforeseen meltdown occurred in 2016 upon arrival in Canada for the family's first royal tour.
After touching down at Victoria Airport, the Cambridges were all smiles as they deplaned, but by the time they reached the tarmac, it was clear George wasn't exactly thrilled to be there. Kate crouched down (with Charlotte in her arms), meeting her son at eye level, employing her signature "active listening" technique. Mothers everywhere could identify with Kate's determined but tender expression as she spoke to the young prince through slightly clenched teeth. Whatever she said worked like a charm—and she did all this in four-inch heels.
The children spend time with both sets of grandparents.
Gan-Gan (also known as Queen Elizabeth) might live in a castle and Grandpa Wales (the kids' name for Prince Charles) might be a future King, but William and Kate have made sure their children spend plenty of time with the Middleton family in addition to their royal relatives. Rebecca English, royal correspondent for the Daily Mail, has said the Middletons have "a hugely significant role" in the children's lives.
English has also reported George and Charlotte have gone to work with their maternal grandmother, Carole Middleton, and visited Party Pieces, the family-owned party-planning company near the Middletons' home in Berkshire. Kate's parents have also vacationed with the Cambridges on the Caribbean island of Mustique. Luckily, the rest of the royal family have welcomed the Middletons into the fold. "Charles understands that Kate gravitates to her mother and family and is actually very grateful for everything the Middletons do," said one royal insider.
They have taught their children about privilege and the importance of giving back.
Just as Princess Diana famously took both William and Prince Harry along with her to visit homeless shelters, William and Kate introduced the concept of giving back to George, Charlotte, and Louis at an early age. In June, the BBC reported the family made batches of fresh pasta at their Norfolk home, Anmer Hall, and personally delivered it to nearby retirees and other vulnerable people staying at home due to the outbreak of the coronavirus. In one of the photos taken by Kate, released to celebrate Charlotte's fifth birthday, the young princess is shown knocking on a door clutching a bag of pasta. In April, all three Cambridge kids joined their parents in taking part in the countrywide campaign Clap for Carers, applauding the efforts of first responders and the NHS. And for more on Princess Charlotte, check out Princess Charlotte's Life in Photos: See Her Most Adorable Moments.
They have also taught them that manners matter.
It's no surprise the Cambridge kids are well-behaved, but that didn't happen by accident. Both Kate and William have taught their children from a very early age that good manners are very important. As members of the royal family, there is plenty of protocol George, Charlotte, and Louis will have to follow as they grow up (George and Charlotte have already mastered the royal wave). But for now, their parents are focusing on the basics.
Our hearts melt every time we see that photo of two-year-old George in his monogrammed robe and gingham pajamas extending his hand as he chatted with then President Barack Obama in 2016. And Charlotte charmed everyone in 2019 when she and her brother attended church services on Christmas Day for the first time with the rest of the royal family. Besides executing a perfect curtsy for her great-grandmother, the now-five-year-old dutifully worked the crowds with her mother, handling the bouquets she was given like a pro and graciously accepting a doll from a well-wisher.
They've kept the crown in the closet.
Heavy is the head that wears the crown, so it makes perfect sense that William and Kate would want to find just the right moment to explain to Prince George that he is third in line to the throne and will be King someday. And that time has yet to arrive. Perhaps that's because, according to royal biographer Andrew Morton, William only found out he was second in line to the throne when his classmates pointed out Granny was the Queen. The young heir reportedly told his mother, Princess Diana, he didn't want the top job. (A young Prince Harry told his brother he'd be happy to take his place.)
In 2016, William told the BBC, "There'll be a time and a place to bring George up and understand how he fits in in the world. But right now it's just a case of keeping a secure, stable environment around him and showing as much love as I can as a father." And for more on another royal dad, check out 15 Reasons Prince Harry Is Going to Be a Great Dad.
Diane Clehane is a New York-based journalist and author of Imagining Diana and Diana: The Secrets of Her Style.