Duke and Duchess of Cambridge 'putting children first' as they parent like Diana and Carole Middleton

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·Royal Correspondent
·6-min read
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Watch: William and Kate release family video to mark 10th wedding anniversary

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The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge could be taking parenting cues from Princess Diana and Carole Middleton, a parenting expert has said.

Tanith Carey, the author of What's My Child Thinking? Practical Child Psychology for Modern Parents, told Yahoo UK that Kate looked keen to replicate her own childhood for her three children, in a video which was shared on Thursday.

The clip of the family of five showed them running around and playing in the countryside, toasting marshmallows and going to the beach.

Carey said: "I think there’s a touch of both Carole Middleton – and Princess Diana here.

"Diana was also focussed on having fun with her boys.

"But at that point, Diana would have been more constrained by royal protocol and the fact there was more of a tradition of royal children being brought up by nannies and sent away early to boarding school.

"Both Prince William and Prince Harry were both sent off to prep schools, despite Diana's objections, from the age of eight, which many experts in child development believe is far too young."

Prince George is seven, and attends Thomas's Battersea, not far from his family home of Kensington Palace, with little suggestion that could change in the next year. 

Pointing out the differences in generational parenting methods, Carey added: "As a boy, Prince Charles had to do the same and a growing body of research is finding that sending children away so young can have a long-term impact on their emotional development, making it more difficult for them to express and process emotion."

She added: "In previous generations the royals have always taken a more 'children should be seen and not heard' approach in which youngsters fit in around the grown-ups.

"By contrast Kate has talked about her parents also putting their children first - and from this clip, she looks like a big believer in child-centred parenting.

"This is the belief that in these early years that parenting should be organised around the needs and interests of the children."

Britain's Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, his wife Britain's Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, and their children Britain's Prince George of Cambridge (R), Britain's Princess Charlotte of Cambridge (3rd L) and Britain's Prince Louis of Cambridge (L) arrive to attend a special pantomime performance of The National Lotterys Pantoland  at London's Palladium Theatre in London on December 11, 2020, to thank key workers and their families for their efforts throughout the pandemic. (Photo by Aaron Chown / POOL / AFP) (Photo by AARON CHOWN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
The Cambridge family on an outing to the panto in December 2020. (Aaron Chown/AFP)

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Kate, 39, has previously spoken of loving her childhood in Bucklebury, Berkshire, and she and William, 38, are both known for their love of the outdoors.

Carey added: "Kate is obviously keen to make it clear that she intends nature to be her children's most important classroom."

The video has won praise from parenting experts who say the couple are helping their children to feel loved and secure in the way they interact with them.

Georgina Durrant, author of 100 Ways Your Child Can Learn Through Play, told Yahoo UK: "One thing that stands out is how the Duchess of Cambridge gets down to the children’s level when she talks to them. This is a wonderful way of helping children to feel valued, listened to and secure. 

"This could be referred to as Active Listening and it shows them that she is listening properly to what they are saying and she cares. As a parenting technique, it can help children to feel confident in themselves and in talking about their feelings."

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Carey also said: "I also love the fact there are no screens in sight to interrupt their bond or stop all of them living in the moment.

"From her knowledge of child development, I would envisage this means she’s likely to have strict rules on tech use for George, Charlotte and Louis.

"Overall, the Cambridges are also shown here to be a very close family where there are lots of hugs and physical affection.

"William and Kate seem to be equally closely involved - which is great to see. They also look well-connected - with all three children, not leaving it to nannies."

Although William and Kate have sought to be hands-on parents, they do have a nanny - named Maria - reportedly hired from Norland.

KING'S LYNN, ENGLAND - JULY 05:  Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Princess Charlotte of Cambridge and Prince George of Cambridge, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince George's nanny, Maria Teresa Turrion Borrallo leave the Church of St Mary Magdalene on the Sandringham Estate for the Christening of Princess Charlotte of Cambridge on July 5, 2015 in King's Lynn, England.  (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
Prince George's nanny Maria Teresa Turrion Borrallo with the family at the christening of Princess Charlotte in 2015. (Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

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Despite the perception of nannies of years gone by, Louise Heren, an expert on Norland, said her research had led her to anecdotes and stories left by nannies in the 1920s and 1930s which included parents playing with their children.

Heren told Yahoo UK: "This is the first time a Norland nanny has worked with a royal in the direct line of succession.

"There have been others in the sideways branches, but it's the first time with someone in line to the Crown.

"Nannies will expect to work with them the way they [the parents] want. The video shows a happy family having a great time and you would not know if they had a nanny or not."

She added: "Some of them [past nannies] were not that stiff, they were integrated into the family."

Heren also noted that when Marion Crawford, known as Crawfie – who was nanny for the young Queen and her sister, Margaret – left the pair, she wrote a book about her experiences. 

The two royal women stopped sending her Christmas or birthday cards afterwards.

Dr Janet Rose, principal of Norland, explained that Norland nannies are trained in core values which have been part of their work since they were founded, but that their degrees now include training in self-defence, cybersecurity and advanced driving.

She added: "The primary role of the nanny is to support and complement the parental role, enabling parents to spend quality time with their children. 

"We train our students thoroughly in professional techniques to provide complementary and flexible childcare support that meets the needs of diverse families. 

"Students are taught using an emotion coaching parenting style, which ultimately means we support children to reach their full potential and to lay strong foundations for good mental health and resilience in the future."

Navit Schechter, a CBT therapist and conscious parenting coach, told Yahoo UK the video showed a "relaxed, loving and happy family life".

She said: "Many parents now understand the importance of connecting with their children and creating a relaxed home life and the video shows the Cambridge's doing just that. 

"They are enjoying time outdoors in nature, laughing and playing together and look really happy and relaxed."

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