Prince William and Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge are clearly hands-on parents who are rewriting the rules on how young royals are raised—but photographs of the couple with their children reveal they are traditionalists at heart.
Following the lead of his late mother, Princess Diana, William has made it a priority to be a hands-on father to young Prince George, 4, and Princess Charlotte, 2. “I would like to have had her advice,” he told British GQ when discussing his approach to parenting. “Twenty years on I still feel the love she gave us.”
William has clearly taken all the lessons learned from his mother to heart.
Last year, he was the picture of modern fatherhood as he accompanied George to his first day of school at Thomas’s Battersea in London, walking hand-in-hand with his son to the front door of his new school. Knowing George was a bit anxious about the big day, William gently encouraged the young prince to shake hands with the head of the lower school, Helen Haslem. Catherine, who is pregnant with the couple’s third child (expected in April), had been unable to be there that morning because she was suffering from extreme morning sickness.
That was the rare occasion when one of the royal children was photographed with just one parent present.
For the most part, William and Catherine are quite traditional in their child rearing methods as evidenced by the photos of the family taken during their official public appearances.
Last summer, during their first tour of Poland, charming photographs of the young family showed William with George as he explored a helicopter while Catherine looked after Charlotte and later dealt with the young princess’ meltdown on the airport runway. The fab four even wore color-coordinated outfits for the occasion, as has become their signature.
Their tried and true approach of William always looking after George while Kate takes care of Charlotte was also clearly evident in this year’s family Christmas card, where a slightly shy looking George held on to his father’s hands while his sister perched in front of her mother.
Parenting expert Jasmine Peters told The Daily Mail that was no coincidence as it is evidence of William’s training George for his role as future King.
In the royal family, she explained, “Fathers are typically responsible for the disciplinary actions. It is believed that it takes a man to raise a boy to be a man. If you look at the pictures [of William and Catherine with their children], it clearly reflects this common belief.”
While William is well aware of his traditional responsibility of raising a future king, he wants to make sure his son grows to be a leader for the future. “Catherine and I are clear that we want both George and Charlotte to grow up feeling able to talk about their emotions and feelings,” William has said. “We want them to know how much they are loved.” And for more on the royal family, learn the 10 Reasons Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle Are Nothing Alike.
Diane Clehane is a New York-based journalist and author of Imagining Diana: A Novel.
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