Nanny Maria makes magic
For centuries, the nanny has been considered an important figure within royal households. From caring for a future monarch to witnessing what really goes on behind palace walls, it’s a position of the utmost privilege.
When Prince George was born in 2013, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge recruited their own real-life Mary Poppins, nanny Maria Teresa Turrion Borrallo. According to author and social historian Louise Heren, who spent 12 months researching the prestigious Norland College where Maria trained before landing the coveted role, George, Charlotte and Louis are happy and content in Maria’s care.
“[But] there will be no messing,” Louise told The Sun of Maria’s no-nonsense approach to looking after the tiny royals. Louise even credits Maria for the Cambridge children’s good manners, revealing that she would have taught the trio how to be on their best behaviour, especially when out and about on official engagements, accompanying their parents.
“Maria will be aware that as they step off planes, holding Mum’s hands, smiling and waving to the crowds, there can’t be any crying or tantrums,” Louise explained.
“She’ll say [to them]: ‘This is your opportunity to show Mummy and Daddy just how wonderful you are, and you are to smile and be really good for them and then we can go inside and play.’ ”
However, as all parents with little ones can attest, keeping the children in line isn’t always straightforward!
“Her (Maria’s) job is to keep them happy, safe and well, but equally they need to be presentable and well-behaved when they are on parade,” Louise added. “If the children have travelled on royal engagements, it will be jolly difficult getting the kids to bed because of the excitement and the timetable of events. When you see William and Kate go off to a function and the children aren’t with them, they will be having naptime.”
Getting their hands dirty
Rain, hail, or shine, Louise also noted that nanny Maria makes sure the children get lots of fresh air – while getting their hands dirty outdoors.
“There will be lots and lots of outdoor play, that’s the one thing you could say Norland are old-fashioned about. Loads of fresh air.
“Lots of bike rides, playing with their dogs, potentially some gardening. Norland are very into teaching children through play."
“Yes, you are getting mucky with your hands in the soil but you are learning how to plant."
“If it is tipping it down, they will still go out. Wet weather is just [avoiding] inappropriate clothing; you have to put the right stuff on.”
Party of five
William and Kate are adamant about ensuring their children have a relatively normal upbringing where possible.
“William and Kate have worked out the fine balance between being both hardworking royals and hands on parents,” Sarajane Ambrose, founder of Imperial Nannies, London’s leading nanny and governess agency, tells Royals Monthly.
“Kate often drops the kids off at school, and you can see the way the Cambridges interact as a family that they are extremely close. While Kate and William prioritise being parents, they don’t neglect their royal duties, and this will only be achievable with the most expert help from their nanny. The relief she provides is invaluable, and it allows them to fulfil their duties, knowing that the children are safe, secure and content.”
In 2020, the duchess opened up about family time, saying she’s happiest when out in the countryside – and that the whole Cambridge crew is “filthy dirty”. “That’s what I want them to remember. Those moments with me as a mother, but also the family going to the beach, getting soaking wet, filling our boots full of water, those are what I’d want them to remember, not a stressful household where you’re trying to do everything but not really succeeding at one thing,” she said.
Playing by the rules
It can’t always be fun and games. In fact, when the children are in the care of their nanny, there are a number of rules and strict protocols that she must follow.
“Photographs are strictly forbidden, as are social media accounts,” Sarajane explains. Social media could jeopardise the privacy of the children and pose a security risk. With that said, the nanny may still have a private social media account but, once again, sharing anything relating to the working day with the children will be forbidden.”
Sarajane adds that a non- disclosure agreement (NDA) would be par for the course: “This would happen before they even start the interview process. Once offered the position, the NDA would be amended accordingly.”
The nanny expert continues: "I cannot stress the importance of discretion when it comes to hiring a nanny for a royal family. Such prestigious families require the finest professionals, who are dignified, diligent and get the job done in an efficient manner without interest in the attention that surrounds the family. Most nannies are proud professionals who wouldn’t dream of risking their cherished roles for one minute of fame, but it is important to find individuals who are not impressed by the fanfare that the these types of families can inspire.”
Meanwhile, Norland graduate Rosemary Albone has detailed the nitty-gritty part of the job. Of the perks, she said: “It’s the ultimate nanny job in the nanny world. You’ve ‘made it’ if you work for a royal family,” she said, adding bringing a sense of "the regular and ordinary" to a young royal’s life is a highlight, not to mention getting a glimpse into a world that very few experience.
But with the role also comes with a lot of sacrifice. “The life of a royal nanny can be isolated,” Rosemary added. “No asking other Nannies to pop over for a coffee anytime or to spontaneously return a playdate!"
“Adhering to confidentiality is expected towards all families, but not even a peep of your day could be shared with friends!”
We kid you not
Turns out there is one word in particular that nanny Maria is not allowed to use around the royal children.“The word ‘kid’ is banned. It’s a mark of respect for the children as individuals,” Louise told The Mirror.
It is understood that naughty steps (or time-outs) are also banned, and that sticker charts are instead used to reward good behaviour.
“There’s no ‘naughty step’ but there is a ‘chat sofa’,” a royal insider previously told The Sun. “The naughty child is taken away from the scene of the [argument] or disruption and talked to calmly by either Kate or William."
“Things are explained and consequences outlined and they never shout at them. Shouting is absolutely ‘off-limits’ for the children and any hint of shouting at each other is dealt with by removal.”
While William and Kate appear to have found their very own Julie Andrews, the same can’t be said for Harry and Meghan. In May it was reported that the Sussexes had sworn off childcare following an incident with a nanny they had hired to look after their son Archie, two.
During an appearance on A Very Royal Baby: From Cradle to Crown, author Omid Scobie revealed details about the moment Meghan was forced to fire the caretaker only a few days into her role.
“After Archie’s arrival, Harry and Meghan wanted some help to establish a sleep pattern. They hired a night nanny,” Omid revealed.
“While I can’t go into someone else’s employment details for legal reasons, it was an incident on one of the first nights that put the couple off from having a night nurse.”
Omid went on to add that the “incident” remains a private issue, even to those close to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. “Very few people know the real story behind it,” the writer added.
Imperial Nannies’ Sarajane says the relationship between a nanny and parents needs to be communicative, respectful and regular: “The parents must ‘sing from the same hymn sheet’, as it were, in order to bring up children in a stable environment and keep messages consistent.”
This obviously wasn’t the case for the Sussexes. “I can imagine they will require a nanny who is joyful, active and interested in calming, meditative activities, such as yoga and mindfulness. They will need someone who will appreciate their hands-on approach with Archie, but pick up the reins when Meghan and Harry have meetings or other errands to run. [Now with her hands full with Lilibet] Meghan will probably need to be able to relax in the knowledge that Archie is being entertained in their beautiful garden! I can imagine the nanny will also need to be an animal lover,” Sarajane says.
Archie and Lili's states of bliss
While it’s not known whether the Sussexes have a nanny, Meghan and Harry’s son Archie and daughter Lilibet have plenty on offer to keep them entertained.
Apart from fun playdates with Grandma Doria, who lives close by, the pair are said to have an endless amounts of toys. Archie also has his very own adventure playground outside, complete with a slide and a chicken pen called Archie’s Chicken Inn, not to mention the family beagle Guy.
Sarajane says Archie is now at an age where he would be enjoying lots of imaginative role play in the grounds of the Sussexes’ sprawling Montecito mansion.
“Think teddy bears’ picnic or pretend shopping,” the nannying expert says.
“Meghan and Harry have a beautiful garden so no doubt Archie would be thoroughly enjoying exploring the grounds, talking to the animals, making mud pies and having frequent swimming lessons in their private pool with his parents (or granny).”
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