Royal help is always at hand

Royal nannies have been important figures within the palaces over the decades, caring for and shaping the emotional well-being of future kings and queens.

Although Kate and William are not expected to have a full-time nanny, it is more than likely they will employ some help — along with support from Kate’s parents Carole and Michael Middleton.

Royal nannies often come recommended, having already worked for other members of the family, or they have close ties with family friends.

In the past, they have become substitute mothers, often spending more time with royal children than their own parents.

Prince Charles was particularly close to his nanny Mabel Anderson. As a young child, he spent most of the day with his nannies Helen Lightbody and her deputy Mabel, usually seeing his mother for 30 minutes in the morning and then after tea before bed, according to his biographer Jonathan Dimbleby.

His father, Prince Philip, a naval officer, was also often at sea and in later years his parents were away on lengthy royal tours while he stayed with his grandparents

Dimbleby wrote that separation, combined with his parents’ emotional reserve, ensured that the “bonds of affection” between Charles and his nannies were “at least as powerful... as those between the child and his parents”.

Mabel, who took charge of his care when Helen Lightbody left following a disagreement with Philip, was firm but kind and gentle and played a pivotal role in Charles’s upbringing.

Even in adulthood, Charles turned to her for comfort and advice, and paid for the decoration of her grace and favourite apartment at Windsor when she retired.

William and Prince Harry still adore their former nanny Tiggy Legge-Bourke, now known as Tiggy Pettifer.

They remain close and she was a guest at William and Kate’s wedding, while her son Tom, William’s godson, acted as a page boy.

It was Tiggy whom William asked to attend his Eton speech day rather than his warring parents and the attention they would bring.

She even once described William and Harry as “my babies” and later played a key role in helping them adjust after the death of their mother in 1997.

© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved

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