Princess Diana broke generations of royal protocol by insisting Princes William and Harry not be coddled inside the royal bubble but live “as normal a life as possible.” She took her sons to amusement parks and McDonald’s (and made them wait on line!) as well as AIDS clinics and homeless shelters. She also showered them with love.
Last summer, talking about his mother on the twentieth anniversary of her death, Harry said he could still feel her love from across the room. Aww. Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge’s hands-on parenting style is very much influenced by her happy childhood growing up with Michael and Carole Middleton, two loving parents who worked hard to provide the very best for Kate and her younger siblings, Pippa and James Middleton.
“I know I was lucky,” she has said several times in her speeches to the various charities she supports as patron. Her stable, nurturing home life was one of the things that drew Prince William to his wife. Now, Kate and William are raising Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and baby Prince Louis their way and have everyone’s full support—including the Queen’s—to give their brood a royally loving childhood. And for more on the couple, don’t miss the The 10 Surprising Rules William and Kate Must Follow that Other Royals Don’t.
The children accompany the duke and duchess of official state visits.
Like Princess Diana before her, Kate insists on bringing her children along on official visits whenever possible. George and Charlotte charmed their hosts in Canada and Germany. George can be a little shy and doesn’t always like to smile for the cameras, by Princess Charlotte (who is her great grandmother’s doppleganger) has mastered the royal wave and curtsy and executes both perfectly. The royals have come a long way from the time when Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip went on a six-month tour of the Commonwealth and a very young Prince Charles was told to welcome his mother back with a handshake. And for more great royals coverage, don’t miss the One Thing Kate Middleton and Kim Kardashian Have in Common.
There is only one nanny for the family.
Kate and William have never had a large staff and despite having three children under the age of five, they still only have one nanny, Maria Teresa Turrion, who has been with them from the beginning. It’s clear the Cambridges don’t like to farm out important responsibilities involving their children.
She’s changed plenty of nappies.
It’s fair to say Kate has changed more nappies than Queen Elizabeth or Princess Diana. She spends most of her time around her children and is usually the one who gets up in the middle of the night when baby Prince Louis needs a fresh nappy. Judging by how tired William was at the Anzac Day service where he briefly fell asleep sitting next to Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, Kate has him on diaper duty, too. And for more changes on the duchess front, check out the 17 Ways Kate Has Changed Since Marrying Prince William.
She and William do drop-off at school.
The duchess was deeply disappointed when she couldn’t accompany George—due to her morning sickness—when he started preschool. Now, she is regularly spotted at Battersea at drop-off and pick-up. Now that they’re a very active family of five, dad William pitches in, too.
George and Charlotte go to “regular school.”
Diana broke the mold by sending William and Harry together to a school in London—but Kate has taken things even further. She and William chose different schools for the young prince and princess based on the individual child’s needs and personalities. George goes to Thomas’s Battersea school and Charlotte attends Willcocks Nursery School.
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Longer maternity leaves means more time with the children.
Kate took almost five months off when she gave birth to Charlotte, and it’s likely she’ll do the same with Louis. She attended Harry and Meghan’s wedding, because she is very close to her brother-in-law, and will likely be seen at the Trooping of the Colour, the official celebration for the Queen’s birthday. But that’s it. Chances are she’ll stay out of sight until October while she bonds with Louis.
She’s not afraid to keep her kids in line.
When George was just a toddler, photos emerged of Kate on the sidelines of William’s polo match squatting down and waving a finger at the little boy to remind him not to wander off. She also had to shush him when he got too rambunctious as a attendant at Pippa’s wedding. But when she bent down on the airplane runway in Germany while wearing four-inch heels and talked to her oldest son through slightly clenched teeth, mothers everywhere crowned her their queen.
The Middletons are an important part of the children’s lives.
When most royal brides join “The Firm,” they are swallowed up into the royal dynasty and their own families fade into the background (something we hope doesn’t happen to Doria Ragland, who looked like she was contemplating that exact scenario at her daughter’s wedding last month). Kate has not allowed that to happen. The children spend a great deal of time with the Middletons. The duchess even broke with the royals’ long standing holiday tradition and spent Christmas two years ago with her family. Anyone with overbearing in-laws understands just how huge that is.
The children wear hand-me-downs.
Yes, they were pricey, precious clothes from Rachel Riley and Olivier Baby, buy Kate also has been known to have her children wear hand-me-downs. One of Charlotte’s favorite little cardigans was first worn by George. Kate also favors inexpensive brands like M&H, whose cute dresses run about $30.
Some of the furniture in the nursery comes from Ikea.
Even though her children are third, fourth, and fifth in line to the throne, respectively, Kate does not spoil them. The new nursery inside Apartment 1A at Kensington Palace has items Kate ordered from Ikea. (No word on whether William was the one who had to put everything together.)
Grandma is the go-to babysitter.
Carole Middleton moved into Kensington Palace for a while when George was born and villagers in her hometown of Bucklebury are used to seeing her in the shops with her grandchildren in tow.
William is a very hands-on father.
He does a little bit of everything from diapers to drop-off no doubt in part because Kate wants a partner in parenting. When William was criticized in the British press for not doing enough royal engagements, he answered his critics by saying his family comes first and his most important job was making sure they were happy and felt loved.
She’s the family photographer.
No stuffy, staged photos for this family! Kate is an avid—and very good—photographer who was responsible for the official first day of school photos of George and first photos of Charlotte and Louis.
She believes children need a dog.
The Queen famously loved her corgis, but William and Harry didn’t grow up with their own dogs (Diana despised the corgis; Prince Charles had his own Jack Russell terriers). Lupo, a black cocker spaniel given to Kate and William by her brother James as a wedding present, is George’s best friend. And for more on the royal pups, check out the 15 Fascinating Facts About the Royal Corgis.
There are plenty of playdates in her diary.
Just like every other modern mom today, Kate arranges play dates for her kids and frequently does the Mommy & Me thing with cousins Zara Philips (the most bored looking guest at Harry and Meghan’s wedding) and Autumn Philips, who both have young children, too.
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