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Royal Baby: What The Duchess Of Cambridge And Prince William Should Expect From Royal Nannies

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MABEL ANDERSON ROYAL NANNY
Prince Charles, heir to the British throne riding in his pram pushed by his nanny, Mabel Anderson in 1950. | Central Press/Getty

It's an understatement to say that growing up in the Royal Family isn't your average childhood. You're surrounded by nobility, watched by the world and showered with the world's finest things.

Now imagine being the eyes and ears of those royal children and sometimes, their closest friend. When it comes to keeping secrets and raising kids, royal nannies know best.

"Regardless of the specific point in history, one thing that ties together the expectation of nannies, and especially one to a Royal Family, is that absolute discretion is a non-negotiable part of the contract," says Rosemary Albone, an expert on royal nannies at caregiver services site Care.com. "Nannies see, hear, experience and become involved within families, and that privileged access is expected to be kept within the family group."

But from Queen Elizabeth II's childhood to the more recent era of Prince William and Prince Harry, the role of both the nanny and the Royal Family's involvement has changed. For example, Clara Knight, one of the Queen's well-known nannies, played a huge role in making sure Her Royal Highness stuck to her daily duties and routine.

Fast forwarding to Princess Diana and Prince Charles's time, both parents played a larger role in raising Prince William and Prince Harry, Albone adds.

And with a new royal baby on the way (on July 13 as some reports predict), Albone says both Kate Middleton and Prince William will have to consider traditional Royal Family upbringing and blending it with their own modern touch.

LOOK — Here's a short history of the role of nannies in the Royal Family, and what Will and Kate can learn from it:

The Role Of Royal Nannies
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ERA: Queen Elizabeth II: The First Nanny
As a child, Queen Elizabeth II’s nanny, Clara Knight (also called Alah), would have dedicated her time being with children and overseeing their strict daily routine, says Rosemary Albone of caregiver services site Care.com. "Later, Marion Crawford joined the royal household as governess, a role that incorporated private tutoring, some of the duties of a nanny and as a companion."

ERA: Queen Elizabeth II: Put Lives On Hold
Like most nannies during the Queen’s time, many were expected to put their lives on hold and dedicate themselves to a family that was not their own, Albone says. "Although the majority of royal nannies remained single, they were always addressed as ‘Mrs.’ to acknowledge their position and to show respect."

ERA: Queen Elizabeth II: Follow The Rules
Royal nannies also had rules to follow. "An obsession with rigid routines, believed at the time to be essential for every child, would have included rest and sleep, exercise and fresh air, food and drink intake and output," Albone says. On top of this, there was also a lot of emphasis put on potty training and healthy bowels.

ERA: Prince Charles II And Siblings: Mabel Anderson
Mabel Anderson (pictured here with Prince Charles) worked as royal Nanny to the Prince of Wales and his siblings. "She has been attributed as providing a critical emotional support in their early childhood years and beyond," Albone says.

ERA: Prince Charles II And Siblings: Role Of The Nanny
"The role of the royal nanny was quite restrictive when it came to having a private life. Potential suitors were discouraged, time off was not always forthcoming and their living conditions, by today's nanny standards, would have fallen well short," Albone adds. To be closer to the child, nannies would also reside in the nurseries.

ERA: Prince Charles II And Siblings: Interaction With Others
"Contact with people beyond the royal confines would have been limited to other nannies of aristocratic families, and on rare occasions when the royal children mixed with other children," Albone says. This made it hard for nannies to interact with peers or have leisure time.

ERA: Prince Charles II And Siblings: Messy Eaters And Mud Diggers
This era was also about presentation. Clean uniforms would have been expected at all times — which only made it difficult for nannies dealing with messy eaters and mud diggers.

ERA: Prince William And Prince Harry: Parents Getting Involved
"It’s been well documented that the childhoods of both Princess Diana and Prince Charles had a profound effect on their beliefs about what was going to be important to them and their children when they became parents," Albone says. This was a drastic shift for nannies from previous years. For the first time, parents played a huge role in the child's upbringing.

ERA: Prince William And Prince Harry: Flexibility
Princess Diana and Prince Charles were much more involved on a daily basis wherever possible, Albone says. "The nanny would have needed to have been very flexible, encouraging a high level of parental involvement in everyday life, much of it spontaneous and unplanned."

ERA: Prince William And Prince Harry: How To Behave
But the boys' nannies did have a specific role, especially when it came to manners and behaviour. "The nanny would have taught William and Harry how to behave — for example how to bow to the Queen and the Queen Mother," Albone says. Nannies would also have to balance helping the boys and letting them develop their personalities.

ERA: Prince William And Prince Harry: Olga Powell
Olga Powell, nanny to both William and Harry, was described as loving but strict, and stayed with the Royal Family for 15 years. "Her firm but caring presence supported Princes William and Harry throughout their formative years and she made sure that their feet remained firmly on the ground," Albone says. Prince William also attended Powell's funeral in October 2012.

ERA: The New Royal Baby: Parents' Preferences
In anticipation for a new royal baby, Albone says many roles for both the nanny and parents will change. "What’s important is that whoever is charged to look after the little one will know the child and the parents’ preferences very well."

ERA: The New Royal Baby: Following Parents' Footsteps
Following their parents' footsteps, the Duke and Duchess will take their child with them on longer trips and tours with the caregiver accompanying them.

ERA: The New Royal Baby: More Time With Daddy
This time around we may potentially see the child with only Prince William on occasion. "Something very rare in royal circles where the traditional gender divide in terms of childcare appears to be very much thriving," Albone says. Both sets of grandparents will also have a role taking care of the child, she adds.

ERA: The New Royal Baby: More New Baby
We may see more of the new baby as well. "The role of the parents has changed over the years, as nannies would watch the children while their parents toured countries for extended periods. However, the role later evolved as the nanny and child would tour with the parents. This evolution provides a more parent facing role for the modern royal nanny and a life of travel with the family themselves," Albone says.

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