Prince William and Kate Middleton have lived their lives in the public eye ever since word got out about their relationship in 2004. But for all of the photos, red-carpet appearances and interviews, the royal couple typically choose to keep quiet about their personal life. Still, those close to Kate and William do sometimes reveal their secrets. And this time, it has to do with the pair’s parenting style.
Those who follow the royal family will know that William and Kate have three children – Princes George, Louis and Princess Charlotte. The young royals have made quite an impression on the public, and this is especially so because they seem to have impeccable behavior while in public. But some may wonder how the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge get their little ones to fall in line so flawlessly.
Luckily, someone claiming to be in the Cambridges’ circle has come forward to reveal precisely how William and Kate parent their children. What’s most surprising is that the parents-of-three don’t follow the methodology one might expect from a royal mom and dad. Instead, they rely on unconventional techniques to ensure that the kids are always on their best behavior.
Several years earlier, up to two billion people in 180 countries had reportedly tuned in to watch the April 2011 royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. And in December 2012 the couple had more exciting news to share – they were expecting their first child together.
Kate’s baby announcement came before the end of the first trimester, which is when most women share the news. That’s because she had hyperemesis gradivarium – or acute morning sickness. In fact, the Duchess of Cambridge had to go to the hospital for the condition, which she had in the early stages of her 40-week gestation period.
Eventually, the rough start to Kate’s pregnancy gave way to her and William’s new baby joy. In July 2013 they welcomed their first child – a son named Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge. The newborn came into the world and took his place in line for the British throne – just behind grandfather Prince Charles and William.
Just over a year later, the Cambridges then announced that they were adding to their family. Kate once again had intense morning sickness which forced her to cancel a slew of events. Nevertheless, her and William’s first daughter – Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana of Cambridge – came into the world in May 2015.
The duchess later had to cancel events in September 2017, and Kensington Palace confirmed what many people had suspected. Kate was not only expecting again, but she was also struggling with severe morning sickness for a third time. From that pregnancy came the royal couple’s third child and second son – Prince Louis Arthur Charles of Cambridge – in April 2018.
Any parent would have trouble juggling three kids, and venturing out in public with children can be hard. But William and Kate’s trio have often received accolades for their good behavior. According to The Sun newspaper’s Fabulous magazine, they’re often the same behind closed doors – like at the exclusive Hurlingham Club where the Cambridges hang out.
One of the sport and social club’s members told the publication that George, Charlotte and Louis behave “impeccably” at the exclusive gathering spot. They added, “The family often dine there al fresco and use the club’s sporting and play facilities. There is no tantrums or food throwing and the children eat what is set before them.”
The royal children apparently act humbly, as well. The Hurlingham Club insider said, “They queue up with the rest of the kids and parents in the Harness Room restaurant and ask for no special favors.” These qualities would, of course, come down to the way that William and Kate raise their kids. But they haven’t actually given many specifics on their style.
William, for one, has spoken generally about his beliefs on parenting. He told GQ in 2017, “I want to bring up my children in a happy, stable, secure world and that is so important to both of us as parents. I want George to grow up in a real, loving environment. I don’t want him growing up behind palace walls – he has to be out there.”
Of course, being in the public eye means that the Cambridge children aren’t perfect all of the time. For all of their moments of humility and sweetness, cameras have captured them acting out – just as every child of their age would do. One such incident occurred on the family’s royal tour of Germany and Poland in 2017.
The last stop of the Cambridges’ royal tour had them visiting the Airbus hub, where George and Charlotte had the chance to explore the aviation company’s helicopters. The young prince clearly loved the event and slipped into a pilot’s helmet. His sister climbed aboard the vessel and at first, she also seemed excited.
But the young princess threw a tantrum on the tarmac after Kate took a children’s book and paper out of Charlotte’s hand. This move didn’t ruffle the duchess’ feathers, though. She was seen swiftly bending down to try and calm the little girl down before picking her up and moving on.
Cameras also captured Kate handling a tantrum of George’s a bit more sternly. This one happened at her sister Pippa’s wedding in 2017 – at which the little prince served as a pageboy. After acing the ceremony, though, he got into trouble for copying his little sister, who walked across the train of their newlywed aunt’s dress.
But Kate didn’t let George’s naughty behavior slide. Instead, photos show the duchess giving her son a very stern talking to – one that made the then-three-year-old burst into tears. He proceeded to sulk beside his mom, while his little sister – who arguably got her big brother into trouble – remained in a cheerful wedding spirit.
Other photos and videos have shown the duchess’ softer side in dealing with her brood’s emotions. At the 2018 Trooping of the Colour – an annual celebration of the reigning monarch’s birthday – Charlotte seemed to fall while watching the military display for the Queen. But Kate didn’t hesitate to step in and help her visibly upset daughter.
Kate seemed to bolster Charlotte with some kind words before patting her daughter’s back to soothe her. Other photos show the duchess holding the young girl in her arms. And fans who saw the moment play out live lauded her gentle parenting. According to the Daily Star, one said in 2018, “I’ve seen Princess Charlotte falling down and bonking her little face on the balcony… Was my livestream crazy or is [no one] acknowledging the Duchess of Cambridge’s great parenting?”
Kate’s gentle approach to Charlotte’s fall shows just how seriously the duchess takes one of the causes at the forefront of her charitable efforts. She has long supported several charities and organizations that aim to improve children’s early years. The royal family’s official website notes that she “devotes her time to supporting a number of charitable causes and organizations, several of which are centred around providing children with the best possible start in life.”
With the right early-years support, Kate hopes that children across the United Kingdom will have an easier time segueing into adulthoods that are equally as balanced, fulfilling and healthy. In 2018 the duchess announced that she had formed a steering group of experts to guide her work with children – specifically before birth until they reach five years of age.
The experts’ insights would help Kate to further improve the work that she and The Royal Foundation do for young children. She also stands as a champion for kids’ mental health and the many reasons that it affects today’s little ones. For instance, the duchess has highlighted how poverty, addiction, neglect, illness or abuse can have a lifelong impact on young people.
Kate has made it her mission to make mental health issues something that children feel comfortable discussing. Indeed, removing the stigma might help people seek help or intervene in the lives of affected young people. With that kind of assistance, Kate believes that little ones will have the brightest possible futures – a result that goes hand-in-hand with her educational pursuits.
Of course, Kate and William still have three children to care for on their own even as the duchess continues with her charity work. And the pair still manage to keep the specifics of their family lifestyle private. But those who know them have spoken out about the unconventional ways that they use to raise Britain’s princes and princess.
For one thing, a source revealed to Fabulous in June 2020 that Kate and William forego “the naughty step” in their home. Other parents have long used this technique to discipline bad behavior. Children typically have to sit on a step or in another designated area after they act out – one minute sitting for each year of their life.
The Cambridges have come up with a way to side-step this typical technique, though. The source said, “There’s no ‘naughty step,’ but there is a ‘chat sofa.’ The naughty child is taken away from the scene of the row or disruption and talked to calmly by either Kate or William.”
The Cambridges make a point not to raise their voices while disciplining their children, and they expect the kids to keep the same respectful volume. The source continued, “Things are explained and consequences outlined and they never shout at them. Shouting is absolutely off-limits for the children and any hint of shouting at each other is dealt with by removal.”
The insider went on to claim that Kate proved stricter than William. But both of them have worked with their nanny, Maria Borrallo, to ensure she maintains their standards when she’s in charge. The source told Fabulous, “Maria is firm but she never acts unilaterally with the children on discipline.”
Apparently, the public would be hard-pressed to know exactly when the Cambridges or their nanny are being firm with their kids. As the insider put it, “Kate and William – along with Maria – are strict with the children but have this magic ability to appear not to be.” And the royal couple have reportedly come up with a genius way to hide their disciplinary moments from onlookers.
Kate relies on code words to subtly tell her children to calm down in public, according to a March 2020 report in The Sun. The duchess supposedly says, “Let’s take a break,” and this indicates to Charlotte or George that they need to take their behavior down a notch.
The duchess uses the same phrase at home, but she has more options for helping her children relax themselves. Specifically, she points them toward quieter, more soothing activities. So, George or Charlotte might stop to read a book or complete a puzzle before rejoining the fray – at a much calmer level than before.
Kate also uses a few physical techniques to keep her kiddos in line, Dr. Rebecca Chicot explained to The Sun. The Calm and Happy Toddler author said, “She seems to be good at making warm contact ‘touch to the head,’ which is a nice connection.”
Chicot continued, “[Kate] gets down to their level to talk to them but lets them be children. She has a lovely balance of sensitivity and gentle boundaries. [The duchess] doesn’t expect them to behave like little adults and knows that children go through perfectly natural stages like tantrums.”
Chicot added that, ultimately, the duchess’ parenting style represents how others should be raising their brood, too. She explained, “Kate is a sensitive and warm mum. This is called an authoritative style of parenting that is now encouraged.” It’s a very different approach than what other royal families may have done in the past, too.
Chicot went on, “This is compared to an autocratic parenting that was encouraged in some circles in Victorian times – [for example that] children should be seen and not heard.” In fact, both the Duchess and the Duke of Cambridge make a point to listen to their children – rather than silencing their thoughts or stifling the kids’ feelings.
The source who spoke to Fabulous compared William and Kate’s parenting to “a military operation.” However, it would be hard for anyone on the outside to see it that way. They said, “… You would never guess it because they work ferociously hard on their children’s upbringing and making it seem relaxed and happy for the three of them.”
That source concluded that this parenting style allows the Cambridges to be “very good at listening to the children, but being firm.” All of these techniques combined have worked – from an outsider’s perspective, anyway. Onlookers have regularly lauded George, Charlotte and Louis’ wonderful behavior in public spaces.
William and Kate have, of course, still struggled with parenting on occasion. Funnily enough, the Duke of Cambridge admitted as much in a Zoom call with chef Charlie Farrally in May 2020. The prince explained that mealtime could be a struggle with his brood and likely among other families “[depending] on what’s on the table.”
William went on to say, “If parents put something on that children love, dinner time goes on very well. But if you put something on the table they don’t want to [eat], that’s another ball game.” Fortunately for him, though, he and Kate have plenty of ways to calmly deal with stingy eaters and other common childhood problems.
For her part, Kate’s patience and wisdom as a mom has guided her in more ways than one. Not only does the duchess gently guide her children, but she uses her know-how to assist in early childhood research and development in the United Kingdom. And that’s something that will benefit many little ones – including George, Charlotte and Louis – for years to come.