Raising Royals: The Evolution of Parenting in the Royal Family

By Krystal Brown

In an era where times have changed, the monarchy has witnessed a remarkable evolution in parenting, with four influential women exemplifying distinct approaches in raising their children, reflecting the modern adaptation of royal childrearing practices.

The Disciplinarian: The Queen Mother

The Queen Mother has a highly popular public figure due to her deviation to King George VI and how she refused to leave London during WWII. It was in 1936 that they moved to Buckingham Palace after Edward VIII had passed on and Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon’s husband George, became king. 

The children had strict nannies as any posh family would, and they would educate the children at home. However, unusually, the Queen Mother was very hands on. It was her that taught Elizabeth to read and tried to build her confidence after telling her that she would one day become Queen. The Queen Mother even assisted Elizabeth to settle her moods, and once wrote to her saying, “Remember to keep your temper and your word and be loving.” 

Discipline was, of course, important. Before bed, the two girls, Elizabeth and Margaret had to clean up their toys and clothes. For Christmas one year, Elizabeth was even given a dustpan and brush in order to keep her room clean. The Queen Mother even joined the girls during bath times and pillow fights. They all remained extremely close until the Queen Mother’s death at 101 in 2002. 

The Traditionalist: The Queen 

The Queen was only 22 when she had Charles in 1948 with Prince Philip. Anne came two years later in 1950 and then she took to the throne in 1952. Andrew was born in 1960 and Edward completed the family in 1964. 

Strict nannies were on the table for the Queen and within the household, emotions were not to be shown. This then led to her being called a ‘distant and cold’ mother. Her children did have to stand on their own two feet early in life due to the royal duties the Queen had to pursue. 

Over time, and becoming a grandmother and great-grandmother, gave the Queen the open heart to become closer to her children. Even though it might be seen that the children had a chilly start of their upbringing, they all were delighted to spend time with her, including joining her for Christmas at Sandringham, summer in Balmoral and accompanying her on a Sunday morning to church. 

The Rule-Breaker: Diana, Princess of Wales 

Even though Diana’s way of parenting was completely polar opposite to those of her mother-in-law’s, she was a highly respectable mother and woman. The Queen strayed away from showing her children any affection in public, but Diana was the opposite and would always shower William and Harry with hugs and kisses, cameras or no cameras. 

Diana once declared, “Family is the most important thing in the world” so Royal protocol wasn’t one that she prioritized. When William was born, Diana was just 20 years old, and nine months later, a six-week tour of Australia and New Zealand took place. The Queen’s wishes were that William did not go, but Diana protested and took him with them. Diana was adamant that her boys would be brought up around love and fun, and she wanted them to have an understanding of their privilege. 

From a young age, the boys were forced to queue, just like everyone else. Diana also took them to meet homeless people and made them aware of Aids. Diana became an international icon and was soon recognized around the world as ‘The People’s Princess’. She said, “Anywhere I see suffering, that is where I want to be, doing what I can.” It was Diana’s attitude that assisted in the modernization of the Royal Family. 

The Modern Mom: The Duchess of Cambridge

The Duchess of Cambridge has become a role model for 21st-century moms who are trying to balance work and children. Both William and Kate were open about her difficult pregnancies that saw her admitted into hospital for severe morning sickness, they have also both been open about the challenges of becoming parents. 

George was born in July 2013, and after nine months of hardly any sleep, they decided to hire a nanny. However, they are now parents to three children and Catherine stated that becoming a mother, she suffered from ‘feelings of ignorance’ and ‘lack of confidence’. William has been more hands-on with his children than any other Royal before him, and Catherine says that she has no qualms about putting her children first if and when needed. 

We have seen many sides to Catherine, including choosing a book with George at a local bookshop, and juggling all of the bags when walking off a budget flight to Scotland. Catherine is a thoroughly modern mum, world’s away from the Queen Mother and Queen Elizabeth.