New Zealand Woman’s Weekly
CAMBRIDGE FAMILY’S HOPE
Raising happy royal children
THEIR CHILDREN MAY BE ROYAL BUT THEIR LIVES ARE ‘NORMAL’
They say it takes a village to raise a child and Kensington Palace, where the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s new baby will grow up alongside Prince George and Princess Charlotte, is exactly that.
Like a traditional country hamlet, the complex is stuffed with relatives, who are on hand to offer advice and support.
And like any small community, it is filled with landmarks and memories that will be shared with the latest addition to the royal family.
“It’s a real family environment, with Harry and Meghan just over the courtyard and a shedload of older relatives who have been here for many years – plus Catherine’s sister Pippa and brother James live nearby,” says a friend of the Cambridges, who has been a regular at kitchen suppers in their 20-room
apartment, number 1A.
“William and Catherine knew that they were lucky to be out of the spotlight in their Norfolk home for the early years of their two older children, but their work demands have changed and this is a great base too.
“What happens in KP stays in KP. It’s as private as any senior royal dwelling can be and a proper haven in the middle of London where the kids can grow up as children first and members of the royal family second.”
It is also, of course, where William and Prince Harry were raised until the death of their mother in 1997. Apartment 8, where Diana lived, has now become offices for William,
Kate, Harry and Meghan Markle, but the template of normality that Diana set there, with children’s artwork stuck to the doors and toys and family photos scattered around, has migrated to the Cambridges’ home.
Taking another leaf from Diana’s book, Kate and William are insistent that they will keep their staff as small as possible, despite their growing family.
“My mother used to say that she did not want us stuck upstairs with the staff and we are absolutely hands-on parents,” William explains.
“We watch quite a lot of children’s television, although you do have to pay attention – George gets cross if you don’t pay due diligence to the characters,” he reveals.
“We cook together, we eat together, we get takeaways. And I want my children to enjoy everything about this place that I loved – racing down corridors, playing outside.
This is a children’s paradise.”
Take the gardens beyond the palace walls. “We used to come here a lot,” says William. “I loved feeding the fish in the pond – there are lots more now, but some of them are so old, they’re the ones we used to visit as children. It’s nice to be able to share that.”
In fact, the Cambridges share more than any previous royal parents. William was the first to drive his wife and babies home from hospital, and Kate was recently spotted stuck in traffic on the school run – George goes to Thomas’s in Battersea, while Charlotte attends Willcocks Nursery School near the family home.
“One big development since William was growing up is the agreement with the British media not to stalk the younger royals,” says the friend.
This makes it easier for the Cambridges to lead a relatively normal family life in what William describes as “a real, living environment”.
Favourite outings include the nearby Natural History Museum – “George is obsessed with dinosaurs,” Kate confesses. “He does come here quite often.”
On the cards are reruns of treats enjoyed by William and Harry as boys, such as seeing Santa at a department store. Play dates with friends include soft-play centres, along with treats, such as child-friendly restaurants – an echo of Diana taking her boys to McDonald’s.
There are also regular visits to Anmer Hall, the family’s country base in Norfolk, and to Michael and Carole Middleton’s house in Bucklebury, as well as trips to Grandpa Charles and Stepgrannie Camilla at Highgrove.
“It’s a chance for them to run wild and experience real freedom,” chime their parents. “Climbing, chasing, falling over, learning to ride and getting properly dirty – these are all important parts of growing up.”
Modern technology is another matter, though. “They want their children to be as unplugged as possible,” says the friend. “iPads are very much Mummy and Daddy’s toys.”
But the top priority for the Cambridge children is that they grow up feeling loved, secure and part of the wider world.
“William is all too aware that you can have every material thing and be unhappy,” says one of his friends. “He and Catherine are working to create a balance for the children – a solid family life filled with love that will be their springboard into a demanding future.”
‘ The kids can grow up children first and members of the royal family second’