Prince William & Kate Middleton Were Never The Same After Having Kids

The British royal family is famous for a whole lot of things, but — from a historical perspective — child-rearing is not one of them. For generations, members of this elite family have relied on royal nannies to take care of their children. Following the birth of King Charles III, Queen Elizabeth II famously departed on tour, leaving her newborn baby to spend most of his first year with a team of childcare workers. As a result, Charles' first word was not "mama" but "nana" — a term of endearment he invented for his beloved nanny.

Queen Elizabeth was not the only British royal to participate in this long-standing tradition. The queen herself had been raised under similar circumstances and, for many years, she considered her governess, Marion Crawford, to be one of the people closest to her. At least one of Queen Elizabeth's grandchildren was left in a similar situation. Just a few months after Princess Beatrice was born, her mother, Sarah Ferguson, headed off to Australia and left her daughter in London with a team of nannies.

While many British royals have embraced the tradition of royal nannies, Prince William and Princess Catherine are known for being much more hands-on parents. Unlike prior generations of royals, the couple participates in all aspects of their kids' lives, from school drop-offs to discipline. As a result, William and Catherine have had to adjust their royal lifestyle to make room for their parenting responsibilities.

Before having kids, William and Catherine used to party

Long before they were the married parents of three adorable children, Prince William and Princess Catherine liked to hit the clubs. As demonstrated in a TikTok montage that went viral in 2022, the pair spent the days — or rather nights — of their early courtship partying as hard as many normal couples in their 20s. And, just like many other young people, Catherine would sometimes dance the night away to show just how carefree she was.

One prime example of this occurred in 2007 shortly after the pair broke up. The future Princess of Wales decided to spend an evening at Mahiki Nightclub to show William exactly what he was missing. According to one report in the Daily Mail, Catherine showed that she had no intention of waiting for her prince to come back. Instead, she is said to have hit the very same dance floor where, just days earlier, William had declared, "I'm free ... Let's drink the menu!" She then partied until 2:30 a.m. 

Years later, after reconciling with William, Catherine was carefree for a different reason. The princess-to-be enjoyed a bachelorette party where she sang karaoke for her friends and family. As per royal expert Tina Brown's book "The Palace Papers" (via Yahoo! Finance), Catherine didn't hesitate to blurt the lyrics of some romantic songs. Brown wrote that the future princess "grabbed the mic and with unusual spontaneity sang her heart out to 'Fight for This Love' by Cheryl Cole."

Catherine's position in the family was questioned prior to producing an heir

While Prince William and Princess Catherine's partying past might cast them as a typical couple, not everybody thought that was a good thing. Before William and Catherine had children, many British aristocrats whispered that she wasn't blue-blooded enough to marry the future King of England. In the documentary "William & Kate: Too Good to Be True?" (via YouTube), royal expert Tom Quinn explained that Catherine's middle-class background prevented her from gaining acceptance in certain circles. "Powerful people cannot help, in many cases, looking down on other people and wanting to preserve their little club. Kate was sort of pushed out because she was tainted by association with [her] family, who sold party hats."

To appease her critics, Catherine had to make some serious changes. She had to upgrade her sense of fashion, adopt a posh accent, and learn to comply with strict royal protocol. Even so, some called for Catherine to have children in order to solidify her royal position. In a controversial article for the Mirror, a commentator wrote, "I do query ... whether [Catherine] has the background and breeding to become Queen one day." The piece went on to advise Catherine to fulfill her so-called duty and produce an heir: "Continue to look pretty ... and do masses of charity work. But, most importantly, produce babies P.D.Q. (pretty d—-ed quick). You need to produce an heir and also a spare."

Pre-kids, the couple was allowed some privacy

Although the British media never truly left Prince William and Princess Catherine alone, the couple was able to enjoy some privacy prior to the birth of their children. Rather than continuing in London, William and Catherine headed off to Anglesey, an island near the northern coast of Wales. They opted out of becoming full-time working royals and instead focused on their new marriage and William's career as a search and rescue helicopter pilot.

As royal correspondent Katie Nicholl revealed in the documentary "William & Kate: Too Good To Be True?" (via YouTube), this decision was not typical for people so close to the throne. Nevertheless, Queen Elizabeth allowed her grandson and his new wife a degree of normalcy before they committed to royal life. "I think it was quite interesting that he was allowed, with the queen's blessing, some time out of the spotlight after the royal wedding. William was allowed to continue his career in the RAF and they continued living in Anglesey," Nicholl shared.

Part of this trend toward privacy meant that William and Catherine didn't reside on royal grounds. Instead, the newlyweds rented a home, almost as if they were any other young couple. However, it's important to note that the duo didn't just settle for any old house. The four-bedroom residence where they stayed was surrounded by a private beach and a forest, allowing the couple a little bit of distance from the ever-nosey British press.

The birth of Prince George thrust the couple into the spotlight

From parties to privacy, it's clear that Prince William and Princess Catherine were allowed quite a bit of freedom prior to having children. However, as soon as Catherine gave birth to the next heir to the throne, everything changed. When Prince George came into the world on July 22, 2013, Catherine had little time to revel in her child's safe arrival. Instead, just hours after George was born, Catherine was expected to stand in front of St. Mary's Hospital with George in her arms for all the world to see.

Remembering that major event, Catherine confessed that it was all very overwhelming. "It was slightly terrifying. I'm not going to lie," the Princess of Wales revealed on an episode of the podcast "Happy Mum, Happy Baby" (via Acast). Nevertheless, the royal mama maintained that it was her responsibility to include the world in that momentous moment. "Everyone had been so supportive, and both William and I were really conscious this was something that everyone was excited about and, you know, we were hugely grateful for the support that the public has shown us. And actually for us to be able to share that joy and appreciation with the public, I felt, was really important." Even so, Catherine admitted that the wave of media attention that came with the young prince's birth wasn't easy to bear. "There were all sorts of mixed emotions," she confessed.

William and Catherine's kids were seen as good news for the monarchy

Prince William and Princess Catherine's growing family inevitably drew media attention even before that fateful moment they posed with Prince George on the steps of St. Mary's. According to a Vanity Fair piece written by royal expert Katie Nicholl, the paparazzi was so invested in documenting Catherine's pregnancy that they kept tabs on the couple at all hours of the day. "The merest hint of activity fueled a frenzy of rumors that Kate had gone into labor. When a helicopter landed at Kensington Palace or a police car swept through Bucklebury, the cameras were ready to roll, and news desks around the world were on red alert," Nicholl recalled.

Although it probably wasn't easy for William and Catherine to deal with the surge of media attention that followed George's birth, it was likely perceived as a positive thing. Some sources indicate that the new focus on William and Catherine's family was interpreted within the royal family as a sign that the crown would continue. In the documentary "William & Kate: Too Good To Be True?" (via YouTube), royal journalist Richard Palmer shared: "I think you could see the relief on the Queen's face the first time she was photographed with Prince George and with William and Kate afterwards. The focus of the royal family changed from ... being about the queen and her children, to being the future of the royal family."

Catherine, however, began to feel isolated

Even though the entire world seemed to be accompanying Princess Catherine in her new role as a mother, the months following Prince George's birth found the princess feeling utterly alone. During a 2020 visit to Ely & Caerau Children's Centre, Catherine revealed that her first weeks of motherhood left her feeling lonely. "I'd just had George — William was still working with search and rescue — and we came up here and George was a tiny, tiny, little baby, and in the middle of Anglesey. It was so isolated, so cut off," she confessed to a group of mothers (via Today). "So, if only I had had a center like this."

Eventually, however, Catherine realized that she didn't have to go through this child-rearing experience on her own. In an interview on the podcast "Happy Mum, Happy Baby" (via Acast), Catherine hinted that a certain "wise" person gave her the advice she needed to reach out to her community. Eventually, this helped Catherine learn to lean on others. "It's not totally my responsibility to do everything because we all have good days [and] bad days. And, actually, if you can dilute that with others who aren't, on that particular day, struggling ... I think it makes such a difference." For Catherine, initially, that meant leaning more on her mother, Carole, who has been frequently spotted with her daughter and grandchildren at Kensington Palace. 

After George was born, William couldn't take on any more dangerous duties

Princess Catherine wasn't the only one whose life changed drastically after Prince George came along. Prior to becoming a father, Prince William was allowed to take on some minor risks by working as a search and rescue helicopter pilot. In the documentary "William & Kate: Too Good To Be True?" (via YouTube), royal expert Simon Vigar explained that the prince genuinely enjoyed this more active role in the British Air Force. "William was desperate to stay in the military, and — of course — he trained to be a helicopter pilot, but in the end, he wasn't allowed anywhere near the front line ... because he [was] second in line to the throne. He re-trained as a search and rescue pilot." Per Vigar, in this capacity, William "helped save, many, many lives."

Once George was born, however, William's military role grew less sustainable, as Catherine was left bearing the brunt of nighttime baby responsibilities. During a visit to Ely & Caerau Children's Centre, Catherine opened up about the challenges she faced during this time period. "I didn't have family around, and [William] was doing night shifts," Catherine revealed (via Today). Interestingly, the prince did not continue in search and rescue position in the Air Force for much longer. George was born in July 2013, and by September 16 of the same year, William had announced his resignation from the role.

William and Catherine struggled to balance royal duties with parental responsibilities

Many parents have to balance their work lives and family responsibilities, and Prince William and Princess Catherine are no exception. On one hand, they keep busy organizing their royal engagements. However, on the other, they've chosen to deviate from the tradition of leaving their children with a team of nannies in order to be more hands-on parents. In fact, unlike their predecessors, William and Catherine originally decided not to hire a nanny — a choice so unusual that it made headlines (via Daily Mail).

Unfortunately, however, the couple's attempt to trail-blaze a hands-on royal parenting style fell short of their initial goals. In the documentary "Kate Middleton: Heir We Go Again" (via the Mirror), royal correspondent Katie Nicholl revealed that it became too difficult for the William and Catherine to manage all of their responsibilities. "Kate was having a conversation with the queen in which she confided that she had found being with George on her own, and not having a full-time nanny or a maternity nurse, very hard," the expert revealed. Ultimately, Nicholl said, "William and Kate wanted to be hands-on parents." However, they eventually caved and hired a nanny.

They hired Norland nanny Maria Borrallo to ease their responsibilities

Once Prince William and Princess Catherine finally hired a nanny, they chose Maria Borrallo, a Spanish early childhood professional who had been educated at the elite nannying institution Norland College. Luckily, it seems, the couple had no trouble entrusting their children's care to the super nanny. And, as an anonymous source told People, Borrallo ended up bonding well with the kids: "Maria loves the children dearly. She can be firm and strict, but she is very loving and soft with them too." 

Nonetheless, just because William and Catherine enlisted some help, doesn't mean that the two don't participate in their kids' lives. The couple still tries to be present for the three young royals, and they have even been spotted at school drop-offs. Studying footage of one such drop-off, body language expert Judi James told Express that Catherine exuded happiness and confidence around her kids: "Kate looks so relaxed and elegant here, and her lack of over-attentive signals to her boys suggests she is finding herself able to enjoy becoming more hands-off as they grow up." Meanwhile, James explained, a shier Princess Charlotte seemed happy turning to her dad for comfort: "Charlotte does show some signs of initial shyness and she is very quick to grab her dad's hand."

The couple had to follow a new child-rearing philosophy

Hiring a nanny represents a change for any family, but hiring a Norland nanny such as Maria Borrallo is arguably an even bigger decision. The reason for this is that Norland nannies are trained to give children the best possible care, based on science. As a result, they bring several rules into any given household, including, most likely, the Wales'.

In an interview with The Telegraph, Julia Gaskell, the head of training at Norland College, revealed that nannies learn not to use certain words around children. "Naughty," for example, is discouraged. The pedagogy expert explained, "We wouldn't want a Norland nanny to call a child 'naughty.' We encourage them to label the behavior, not the whole child." Similarly, Gaskell shared that Norland nannies learn not to refer to children as "kids." The reason for this, in the words of the Norland representative, is, "'Kid' is a word for a baby goat."

Although these rules might seem strict, Borrallo's Norland-inspired childcare philosophy cannot be applied in Kensington Palace without Prince William and Princess Catherine's approval. As an insider told The Sun, "Maria is firm but she never acts unilaterally with the children on discipline." Instead, the three adults are said to collaborate to raise the children in a healthy, kind way. "Kate and William, along with Maria, are strict with the children but have this magic ability to appear not to be," the same insider added.

William and Catherine learned to balance parenthood with royal duty

With the help of their nanny, Maria Borrallo, Prince William and Princess Catherine have been able to find time to perform their royal duties, all while remaining present in their kids' lives. An anonymous source told The Sun that the family is often spotted enjoying a meal together at a country club in Fulham: "The family often dine there al fresco and use the club's sporting and play facilities."

While William and Catherine clearly enjoy many happy moments with their children, they also make sure to be present for the more challenging ones. The same source told The Sun that both parents play a huge role in disciplining their kids. Per the insider's account, when one of the children misbehaves, they are "taken away from the scene of the row or disruption and talked to calmly by either Kate or William."

Interestingly, however, Catherine has admitted that she still feels a little bit of "mom guilt" when she goes off to do her royal duties. In the podcast "Happy Mum, Happy Baby" (via Acast), she revealed, "I think anyone who doesn't [struggle with mom guilt] as a mother is actually lying ... It's a constant challenge."