For the nannies of the British royal family, raising real-life princes and princesses is all in a day’s work. However, behind all the glitz and glamor of palace life, the reality of the job isn’t always so gilded. Join us as we go passed the royal guards for a behind-the-scenes look at what it’s really like to be a royal nanny.
1. Nannies basically have no personal life
Anyone looking for the usual nine-to-five life need not apply to become a nanny for the royal family. Being a royal nanny is tough work, and it requires not only looking after some of the most famous children in the world, but also helping craft daily meal ideas, disciplining, and keeping them entertained. The job can be so demanding that in 2017, a nanny quit just because of the crazy workload.
Depending on if the family also has pets, the nanny could be responsible for some pet sitting duties as well. But no matter the job, royal nannies basically commit their lives to watching over these little princes and princesses. While the job does come with the perk of proximity to the monarchy, for nannies all the perks come with the caveat of giving up their entire personal lives.
2. The royal nannies get to travel, but not for vacation
Living in Buckingham Palace and going on overseas trips with the royal family sounds like a dream. But when this dream becomes a reality, the perks are not as fabulous as one might think. While traveling with the royal family, nannies are strictly there for work.
And, sure, they get to meet some famous people during their travels. But nannies have to leave when the child leaves, which is usually after about 40 minutes of meet and greet time, at the most. For the rest of the trip, nannies are usually at work indoors and definitely don’t get to walk around and sight see. No wonder they turn to some other unexpected methods to unwind.
3. Every nanny goes through an intense background check
They don’t just let anyone waltz into the Palace and start looking after some of the most important children in the world. Each and every nanny (and staff member) has to go through a particularly extensive background check before they can land themselves a job with the royal family. But we are not talking about regular background checks.
Instead of the usual pre-work background check that many people are accustomed to, royal nannies go through multiple screenings. Every three years, their backgrounds are reexamined to see if anything particularly salacious has come up in their lives that could be fodder for tabloids.
4. The royal nannies get a lot of playtime
Having fun with the royal children is not all fun and games. Everything these royal nannies do is purposeful, and meant to raise young royals into upstanding citizens. For Nanny Maria, the playtime schedules for Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis is just a part of a delicate balance.
According to reports, Nanny Maria makes sure to allow the kids to get dirty during playtime. And the adventures don’t stop after their go back to the Palace. Nanny Maria also introduces the children to new foods so that they do not grow to be picky eaters. No matter what the playtime of the day entails, by 7PM each night, all three of the children are in bed.
5. The nannies share their skills with the moms
To become a professional nanny may require years and years of training, but no one trains a woman to become a mother. In royal families, mothers usually relinquish all of their child raising duties to the nannies. But this all changed with Princess Diana.
Instead of being more hands-off, Princess Diana wanted to play a more active role in her children’s lives and ended up learning the tricks of the trade from Nanny Barbara. Since then, nannies have become almost parenting teachers to royal mothers and fathers. It is rumored that Nanny Maria taught Kate Middleton her best practices when her children were born and that Meghan Markle is “a very hands-on mum.”
6. There’s one nanny for all three of William and Kate’s children, but there’s a catch
One of the most photographed and well known royal nannies is Spanish-born Maria Teresa Turrion Borrallo. It seems like every time the public sees pictures of the British royals, Maria is either right there in the middle of things, or she is standing closely to the side. And there’s good reason for that, Maria is tasked with watching all three of Prince William and Kate Middleton’s children.
The royals usually hire only one nanny for each nuclear family. But that definitely doesn’t mean that one nanny has to do everything alone. Don’t be fooled, Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis have an entire team watching over them along with Nanny Maria. The team includes everything from maids to on-staff nurses and publicists. It truly takes a village to raise a royal.
7. The nannies get to live in the palace, but at a price
We’d say one of the best perks of taking on the job as nanny to the British royal family is the pretty cool digs that the job comes with. They all get to live in the royal residences. But that seemingly incredible amenity also comes at a price, and we mean that literally. Royal nannies are usually required to pay for their own board.
Their quarters are also not exactly fit for kings and queens. Nanny bedrooms usually come with one twin-sized bed, and a closet. Maybe they’ll get a chair, but it’s no throne. That, along with the 24-hour demands of their jobs, make the housing perks a little less than enviable. But we won’t act like we wouldn’t love a chance to live in a palace regardless.
8. Most royal nannies are graduates from the same school
So how exactly does one train to become a royal nanny? Apparently there are schools for that. But most of the royal nannies that end up landing the coveted jobs at the likes of Buckingham Palace and Kensington Palace actually go to the same school. That school, The Norland College, an elite academy that is basically the Harvard of nanny education.
And while nothing can truly prepare someone for motherhood, or for nannyhood in this case, Norland certainly tries. Practicing nannies are made to look after robotic babies that cry and even need diaper changes. But, as we’ll soon see, their training goes way beyond what anyone would expect with some pretty unusual courses.
9. The royal nannies are also trained to deal with paparazzi
Even when a child is in line for the throne, they are still prone to temper tantrums. But while many kids might be prone to a bit of a meltdown at the park or at the grocery store, that just can’t happen for the royal children. It’s just not a good look.
Because of this, royal nannies have to constantly be looking out for paparazzi hiding and trying to snap pictures of some of the most dramatic moments. If a royal child is captured having a breakdown on camera, that could be grounds for a nanny losing his or her job.
10. Secret nanny parties are a thing
Buckingham Palace is used to hosting its fair share of parties. Usually, the next day all of the tabloids run headlines and photos of all of the fabulous people who attended a royal soiree. But no one will be seeing the parties we are talking about in any tabloid. Yes, we are talking about secret nanny parties, which are apparently a thing.
We do not blame these royal nannies for needing to blow off some steam. The demands of the job, along with having no social life basically means that all of their friends live in the Palace. So every now and then, nannies and the rest of the Palace staff are said to throw some parties in their residences. And we’d say that the palace is a pretty great venue for a secret party.
11. Some nannies get lavish gifts
Let’s face it, the royal family gets some pretty weird gifts for hosting and traveling around the world. Take, for example, the fabric gnomes given to Prince William from officials in Finland. And hard as it is to believe, sometimes the royal family does not know exactly what to do with their unwanted gifts. That’s when the royal nannies come in.
The former butler for Princess Diana once told reporters that Prince Charles would oftentimes give some of the more outlandish gifts he would receive to members of his staff, including the royal nannies. Every year, the Queen also hands out gifts to her staff. The longer someone has worked in the Palace, the more expensive the gifts.
12. The job comes with an NDA agreement
With royal nannies around all day and night at the Palace, they definitely know a good amount of royal secrets. Just about every newspaper and tabloid in the world would love to know what goes on behind the closed doors of the Windsor residences. And nannies know everything.
That’s why all of the nannies working at the Palace have to sign non disclosure agreements, which last for the rest of the nanny’s life. Still, that doesn’t mean some secrets don’t get out. Take Marion “Crawfie” Crawford, for example, who landed herself in some serious trouble for writing a tell-all book about what it was like to be the nanny for Princess – and later Queen – Elizabeth. She was immediately kicked out of the Palace forever.
13. Kate tried to special request her nanny
Nanny Maria is by far the most easily recognizable royal nanny, pictured usually with her hands full from taking care of all three of Prince William and Kate Middleton’s children. But that does not mean that the hiring of Maria went smoothly with Middleton. In fact, she tried to protest it.
According to reports, Middleton originally wanted her own mother, Carole, to be the official nanny for her children. That request was ultimately denied, since Carole was not trained in combat or any of the other requirements, and it went against the usual protocol kept at Buckingham Palace. Apparently even royals cannot always get what they want.
14. They don’t always have to wear uniforms
At official royal events, it is usually pretty easy to spot the nannies. Something about their head-to-toe beige uniforms, white gloves, and white collared undershirt paired with a brown Bowler hat creates a dead giveaway for spectators. That’s not an outfit we usually see everyday.
And, apparently, it is not an outfit that the royal family and staff have to see every day, either. Thankfully for everyone, these traditional outfits are typically only reserved for things like royal weddings and other official events. On a normal day, nannies can dress much more casually, but there are still some strict dress code rules that they have to follow.
15. There’s no spanking at the castle
When a royal nanny starts the job, they are usually given a set of guidelines to follow, provided by the parents. Otherwise, these nannies pretty much have free reign to care for the children how they see fit, and that includes how to address punishment. But there is one strict, firm rule about disciplining the children that absolutely cannot be broken.
The royal family makes clear that physical punishment is in no way tolerated. If a child is in line for the throne, they also cannot be in line for a spanking. For any nanny who breaks that rule, their punishment is an immediate firing.
16. Must love kids
As anyone can imagine, the bond between a nanny and the royal children she looks after is incredibly strong. These nannies basically raise the princes and princesses they look after. Growing up, Prince William became so close to his Nanny Barbara Barnes that when she passed away in 2012, he attended her funeral.
Sometimes, this situation can create a little bit of jealousy among the parents about the close bond a child can have with his or her nanny. But these professional caretakers are even trained on how to handle the relationships with the parents and navigating a ton of situations, including jealousy.
17. Some royal fights break out over royal nannies
Getting a good nanny in the real world can be a pretty difficult task. And even with some of the best nannies in the world applying for positions at Buckingham Palace, picking the right one for a royal family can still be a tough process. Even Prince Charles and Princess Diana fought over their nanny choosing process.
According to reports, Prince Charles and Princess Diana fought over the nanny hired to look after their children. When Prince William and Prince Harry were born, their parents argued over who could ultimately pick their caretaker. In the end, they went with Nanny Barbara Barnes, and judging by her close relationship with the kids, we’d say that both parents won.
18. Men can be royal nannies, too
When looking over the long history of royal nannies, something stands out almost immediately. Where are all the men? There have been no male nannies to work in Buckingham Palace in the history of the royal nanny service. But that could soon change.
Men are actually allowed to become royal nannies, and there is no rule against it. But in the past, the job has usually attracted only female applicants. In the last few years, a handful of men have graduated from Norland College, so it could only be a matter of time before a male royal nanny is spotted moving into royal quarters.
19. Written reports are required
Think that royal children get to get out of a bad report card? Think again. For royal nannies, keeping the royal family up to date with a child’s behavior is all in a day’s work, and the Palace takes the responsibility very seriously.
All royal nannies are taught to keep a record of a child’s behavior to share with his or her parents. According to reports, nannies should regularly keep “documentation to keep the parents informed about their children’s care, well being and development.” Because what is worse than sending a note of bad behavior to the principal? Sending a note of bad behavior to the Queen of England.
20. Nannies have some dress code guidelines (no fancy hats for them)
For nannies, their lives as they work in the Palace are all about the royal family. Nothing, not even their own personal lives, can get in the way of a nanny’s ability to care for little princes and princesses. And along with the other things royal nannies give up are their most glamorous clothing.
Because the focus should always be on the royal family, including the children, royal nannies are discouraged from wearing any loud or elaborate clothing that would draw attention to them. They are told not to wear jewelry and heavy makeup, although some nannies still might wear small earrings.
21. The job is one of the toughest to get
As the old adage goes, it’s hard to find good help these days. But for the royal family, it is not all that difficult to find amazing help, and lots of it. Hundreds of people apply for jobs with the Crown, and the royal family basically has their pick of any nanny in the world.
For that reason, landing these coveted nanny jobs is an extremely difficult task, and takes a ton of interviews and references. And once a nanny is hired, it is pretty rare that she will be replaced with another nanny later on. However, British media has reported that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have had two nannies resign and have brought on a third since their son Archie’s birth in May.
22. The nannies might live with ghosts
When becoming a royal nanny, it is assumed that there would be some bedtime stories involved. But British royal nannies might be involved in their fair share of ghost stories as well. The English royal palaces, a.k.a. the home of every royal nanny, is rumored to be haunted by the ghosts of royals past.
Some say that the ghost of King Henry VIII’s second wife still wanders Buckingham Palace, while another rumor says that Queen Elizabeth I’s spirit has been spotted lurking the halls. We knew there would be a few unusual amenities and occupational hazards that come with the territory, but ghost roommates was not one of them.
23. Training to be a royal nanny takes years
Beefing up the kind of resume that qualifies someone to become a royal nanny takes years and years of training. First, potential nannies are certified in a course that takes three whole years of learning full time. Yes, just as long as it takes to gain a degree at an American law school. But their training does not end there.
After the three years of schooling, nannies are also required to take a fourth year of practical training, much like an internship. The idea is for nannies to take their training and see what they can learn from real life experiences. And that’s not all the academies curriculum of a royal nanny includes.
24. Nannies learn a ton of unexpected skills to watch the royal children
Anyone who thinks that royal nannies are just your run-of-the-mill caretakers would be way wrong. Nanny Maria, for example, is teaching Prince George and Princess Charlotte Spanish, since she speaks it fluently. And that probably won’t be the only language she teaches them considering the fact that she is fluent in six different languages.
But Nanny Maria is not alone. Most, if not, all of the nannies in the Palace are required to know multiple languages and teach them to the royal children. The nannies are also given extensive etiquette training and nutrition certifications. While they might not be making the food for the children, they closely monitor what they eat with their nutritional training in mind.
25. All of the royal nannies are combat trained
When you are looking after some of the most well known children in the world, you really never know what could happen. And royal nannies are definitely prepared, even for the worst situations. Because of that, every nanny that enters the Palace is already equipped with intensive combat training.
Norland College is known to train their aspiring nanny students in everything from how to escape a kidnapping situation, to how to avoid terrorists. They also go through courses on defensive driving to get out of dangerous situations. So don’t let the beige, skirted uniforms and Bowler hats fool you, these nannies are intense combat fighters who should not be messed with.
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