A school that trains nannies in martial arts and evasive driving techniques may sound like the premise of a Hollywood action movie. But those are reportedly the kinds of things a potential employee will learn if they are training for a job looking after younger members of the royal family. Traditionally, a fleet of staffers has carried out this task. Not so for Prince William and Kate Middleton, however, who took on one woman in 2014: the flawless childminder Maria Borrallo. Read on to find out about some of the strict rules that she has adopted to raise these future potential kings and queens.
20. Go to bed at 7:00 p.m.
Maria is originally from Spain, but she trained as a nanny at the prestigious Norland College in the English city of Bath. She lives with the Cambridges at their Kensington Palace home, and one of her rules is to apparently ensure that the duke and duchess’ children are in bed by 7:00 p.m. Kids will often naturally baulk at the prospect of sleeping at this time, but this Norland nanny is prepared for such an eventuality.
Maria has a strict routine when it comes to bedtime for the royal kids. Every night, the children follow a routine which includes bath time, then pajamas, followed by a bedtime story, according to Mirror Online. This schedule helps the young ones unwind, so that by the final stage of this process they’re ready for some shut-eye.
19. No fuss at meal times
George, Charlotte and Louis are taught from the beginning to keep an open mind when it comes to food. Indeed, there’s apparently a saying about staffers who come from Maria’s teaching institution, which goes, “You don’t have a fussy eater if you have a Norland nanny.”
According to reports, the children are supposed to try everything which comes on their plates. The reason why is interesting; Louis, Charlotte and George will of course eat a variety of different food types at galas when they’ve grown up. And no one wants a grimaced face at meal time.
18. Play must take place outdoors
Louise Heren spent a year at Norland College studying it and is the author of Nanny in a Book. And she spoke to The Sun’s Fabulous Online in January 2019 about some of the fun activities that Maria will do with the royal children. The author said, “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.”
Louise went on, “[There will be] lots of bike rides, playing with their dogs [and] potentially some gardening. Norland are very into teaching children through play. She added, “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 inappropriate clothing, you have to put the right stuff on.”
17. Must behave in public
There is a level of expectation from the children when they accompany their parents William and Kate on public engagements. Louise told the U.K. publication, “There will be no messing. That’s because Maria will be aware that as they step off planes, holding mom’s [hand], smiling and waving to the crowds, there can’t be any crying or terrible twos or tantrums.”
Of course, life as a royal toddler is different to that of other children, and Maria must have the princes and princess prepared for formal appearances. Raising royal kids is very different to bringing up a normal family, after all.
16. Limitations on screen time
Kate and William reportedly decide the amount of time that George, Louis and Charlotte can spend on iPads and watching television. And as you’d expect, it’s pretty limited. So if the children aren’t watching re-runs of Frozen, what do they do instead?
Well, Louise told Fabulous Online that the royal children will often pass the time putting jigsaws together or playing education games. And in terms of the types of hobbies that the children enjoy, Marie Claire reports that George is apparently a fan of ballet.
15. Never use the word “kids”
Louise explained that students at Norland College are taught to avoid using one word in particular when referring to the royal tots. That word is, of course, “kids.” Charlotte, George and Louis are, therefore, likely to be referred to as “children” instead.
The use of language illustrates the strict adherence to protocol – a fundamental aspect of the training which takes place at Norland College. And it’s this professionalism which makes Maria reportedly one of the top nannies in Britain.
14. Choose their own activities
Norland childminders reportedly get the children involved in arranging their own activities as soon as they are old enough. By giving the youngsters the opportunity to plan the day, there can be little room for argument. For instance, if the child chooses to bake a cake or go for a bicycle ride in the park, it’s an activity they chose for themselves and are therefore more likely to commit to it.
Louise told Mirror Online in January 2020, “It means that the nanny has got some control, but the child has chosen what to do and is happy that they got the choice.” Allowing the royal kids the chance to plan their own exercise also gives them a taste of independence which they can onto to later life.
13. Always wave back
As well as performing typical nanny duties, Maria must remember who she is helping to raise: royalty. Louise told the U.K. publication that Kate likely prepares her children for public engagements by letting them know in advance what’s going to happen. And one of the golden rules that the kids must follow is a curious one.
Before a public event, the children are told who they will meet, and if anyone waves to them, they must wave back. Louise told Mirror Online, “[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.”
12. Mealtimes are a learning opportunity
When George, Charlotte and Louis sit down to eat their meals, Maria takes it as an opportunity to continue their education. Of course, at such a young age, the royal tots are still learning some of the basics.
So, while the royal children are chomping down on their dinner, Maria will use it as a chance to get their brain juices flowing. According to MailOnline, “This includes everything from them practising their math skills by counting out the cutlery and china, to developing their knowledge of color when selecting certain items.”
11. Choose their own food
In a similar way to having the children select daily activities, Maria will also offer them options at meal times. Then, if there are any objections from the child, the nanny has grounds for a comeback. However, the royal youngsters will far from have free reign; their options will be limited to a choice of food selected by their elders.
For instance, the children may be offered several vegetables to have with their meal, and they can pick two. Louise told Mirror Online, “If they are informed beforehand you don’t get a grizzly child.” And it’s a double win for Maria, because she can get the kids to practise their colors while they’re choosing which veg they want.
10. Always be presentable
Being in the public eye, the royal children are always expected to be smartly dressed. Louise continued, “You get up, have breakfast, you go to school and you wear your school uniform whether you like it or not. It would be quite like the average British school children.” And that’s another job that falls, in part, to Maria.
Smart dressing is something that Maria will be familiar with from her days at the prestigious Norland College. According to News.com.au, students have to pay around $1,200 for a series of uniforms which change according to the seasons.” The publication said, “Shoes must be plain brown/leather… flat lace-ups. In summer, nannies wear light tights and white gloves. In winter, they switch to dark tights, brown gloves and coat.” The website went on, “The practical uniform consists of dark blue trousers and jumper and a lighter blue polo shirt. Fingernails must be short, clean and without nail polish.”
9. Tantrums are unacceptable
It’s probable that the royal tots are just as prone to angry outbursts as any other child their age. However, such behavior will not be tolerated during public appearances. But there’s not a one-size-fits-all solution to dealing with infant meltdowns, and they can have a varying array of triggers, because every child is different.
“The child has the mental ability to want something but they haven’t got the language ability to say, ‘Can you get that for me,’” Louise told Mirror Online. “The tantrum can build because you’re not observing what they’re trying to get or do. Frustration is building.” Norland nannies, then, are trained to be alert to the children’s needs and are able to deal with any situations before they escalate.
8. Wash hands before meals
As dinner approaches, George, Charlotte and Louis will be encouraged to wash their hands ten minutes before they eat, as per Norland College teachings. While that’s an important task for any child before sitting down to dine, the institution believes that it’s helpful to forge set procedures when it comes to daily routines such as eating.
Norland nannies believe very strongly in the importance of routines – particularly for the more important parts of the day. Louise explained to Mirror Online, “Children understand routine but they like to be informed of [what it is specifically]. Even if lunchtime is half an hour later, the clues that lead up to it stay the same.”
7. Help lay the table
Despite being royalty, the Cambridge children aren’t waited on for every task and activity. They’re expected to help out rather than have everything done for them. For instance, laying the table is another important part of the mealtime routine for the children.
And Maria doesn’t miss a trick, because putting the right number of cutlery, cups and dishes on the table in preparation for dinner is used to as an opportunity for the kids to practise counting. Illustrating how the eating process goes, Louise explained, “Ten minutes to go, wash your hands, can you help me lay the table?”
6. Follow nanny’s example
Norland nannies are taught a loving and nurturing method of childcare. But that’s not to say they’re a pushover when it comes to strictness when it’s needed. Louise told Mirror Online, “It is about training the children by example rather than just telling them.”
Graduates from the prestigious British childcare college, however, are identified by a distinct uniform, which can appear quite stern and formal. But, as Louise told Fabulous Online, “It doesn’t have to be strict. Just because Norland nannies wear the brown uniform, they look quite old-fashioned, that doesn’t mean their message is old-fashioned. It’s no nonsense.”
5. Speak Spanish and French
Maria is of course fluent in Spanish and English, but she actually speaks a further four languages. And Louise believes that the nanny encourages the kids to speak to her in French and her native tongue, as the children are reportedly learning both languages.
It is apparently Kate and William’s desire that their children learn about other cultures. What’s more, they’ll be better prepared for their future royal duties abroad. With a head start on their foreign vocabulary, then, the Cambridge children will have a good foundation on which to develop their language skills.
4. Strict nap times
It can be difficult as a royal toddler to keep a strict routine. After all, the children may be expected to accompany their parents on royal engagements. Nanny Maria, however, is on top of it all. Louise told Fabulous Online, “[She] will know their schedule. [Maria] will be doing a lot of explaining to them what is happening.” But if there’s one thing they don’t deviate from, it’s nap time.
Louise went on, “If the children have traveled 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 nap time.”
3. No night lights
Although Kate and William’s children are still very young, there are times when no one will be at close quarters, for instance when they are asleep. So, another of life’s hurdles Maria will help the youngsters overcome is being left alone in the dark. They need to be comfortable sleeping through the night on their own.
Norland nannies prefer to achieve a restful night for the youngsters without the aid of lights. But, as Louise explained in Nanny In A Book, “Although a nightlight is not necessary for helping your baby go off to sleep, a low lamp you can switch on when checking on [them] that does not create a blaze of light could be useful.”
2. Abide by the sticker chart
Reward charts can often be used to recognize when a child has done something good. But when it comes to nannying the Norland way, the opposite is also true, too. So, a sticker chart is sometimes utilized when it comes to marking unwanted behavior.
Of course, a sticker chart will help teach the royal children how to behave properly – reminding them of past mistakes. But this “no nonsense” upbringing, as Louise told Fabulous Online, is different in other ways, too. For instance, naughty steps are banned – rather than embraced – as a parenting method.
Of course, keeping up appearances is a must – even for a royal child. And a big part of the Cambridge children’s lives will be spent in the public eye. Louise explained to Fabulous Online that Maria will make sure that the kids are alert and ready to go out with a smile on their face when they’re in public.
Smiling when carrying out your duties is an important aspect for any royal family member when out in public. Louise explained to Fabulous Online, “[Maria will] say, ‘This is your opportunity to show mommy 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.’”