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In the news this week, Prince William and Kate have hired a new nanny. She’s reportedly in her late 30s, with no husband or boyfriend since she’s “married to her job” of looking after little ones. She’s worked for “high profile” families before, so the Cambridges are no big deal to her. She’ll have time to get acquainted with Prince George before the family heads off to Australia and New Zealand for a 3-week tour next month. I know I’m looking forward to photos from that (as an aside here, is it just me, or are we seeing far few photos of Prince George — and even Kate, for that matter — than we did of baby Prince William and Diana at the same life stage? I can think of so many photos of them when William was little. There are only a handful of times we’ve seen George, and he’ll soon be 8 months old).
Prince William’s nannies
Prince William’s nanny was Barbara Barnes, shown with him above. However, Diana was determined to break with the royal tradition of royal children being basically raised by the nanny, and she spent much time with both William and Harry.
Like most royal children, William and Harry had more than one nanny. Olga Powell, shown above with William, was a favorite with the prince. She was “deputy nanny” who stayed on once Barbara Barnes left their employment. Described as “loving but strict,” Powell stayed with the family for 15 years.
Prince Charles’ nannies
William’s father, Prince Charles, spent more time with his own nanny (primarily Mabel Anderson, shown above) when he was little. He spent six months with her when he was three and his parents went on a 6-month tour. The famous tale is told of little Charles shaking his mother’s hand as she returned home from the trip. He credited his nanny with providing emotional support to him. Many even see a resemblance between Anderson and his current wife, Camilla.
Here are Prince Charles and sister, Princess Anne, with another nanny, Helen Lightbody — known as “no-nonsense Lightbody.” So important were nannies in the prince’s life that even his own mother, Queen Elizabeth, did not attend his first three birthday celebrations. Poor little kid — I know it was the way things were expected to be at the time, but I can’t help feeling that his adulthood would have gone more smoothly had he had the affection of his parents when he was little. He looks a little lost here, don’t you think?
Queen Elizabeth’s nanny
Queen Elizabeth’s nanny was named Clara Knight, and little Elizabeth called her “Allah.”
Here is Elizabeth at 2 (note, she looks very similar to her granddaughter Louise, daughter of Prince Edward), with her nanny. When Elizabeth was just 9 months old, her parents went on a six-month tour of Australia and New Zealand without their daughter — something that would no doubt not happen today.
Today, we tend to judge earlier royals harshly for letting their children spend so much time being raised by nannies. But this was typical for well-to-do families of the time. What do you think?