Kate and Meghan’s Parenting Styles Might Save the Royal Family

Last weekend, the Royal Family released new photographs of Princess Charlotte to celebrate her birthday. In the pictures – taken by her mother, Kate Middleton, wielding a DSLR like a classic elder millennial parent who appeared in the early 2010s – Charlotte is any other adorable 7-year-old girl, hugging her dog , sitting crisscrossed apple-sauce, smiling at the camera in a blue sweater that could very well be his big brother’s heirloom. (Okay, maybe not every 7-year-old has a field of bluebells on their family estate, but the point remains.)

Contrast that with the Charlotte we saw a few weeks earlier on Easter Sunday, when she was photographed by news cameras and paparazzi as she walked around church with her parents. Her eyes are downcast, her shoulders hunched, and she clings to her parents, clutching her father’s hand, grabbing her mother’s skirt. In this, too, she – and her brother, George, in full investment banker attire – are like any other kid thrown into an adult setting where they feel uncomfortable and a bit overwhelmed. Two sets of photos, two different photographers, and one point we’re trying to get across: Princess Charlotte behaves just like an ordinary child. She’s smiling and at ease when it’s her mother behind the camera, and anxious and uncertain when it’s a group of strangers clicking their lenses.

When one remembers how extraordinary his situation is, it is the greatest compliment one can give to his mother, herself a former ordinary child. And yes, the credit belongs to Kate because, despite all his best attempts at cosplaying as Normal, William knows nothing of life outside of the dysfunctional bubble of royalty. Was his mother known for her practice, hugging her boys in big hugs for all to see, a marked contrast to the formality of his stepmother, who left her young children with nannies for months ? Yes! But Princess Diana was trapped and unhappy in her marriage, and also a product of the stiff, buttoned-up British aristocracy herself, despite her best attempts to show her sons’ lives outside the palace walls. Additionally, she came to parenthood with the scars of a child from a horrific divorce (her father was granted sole custody after her mother left him for another man, her own mother testifying against her in court ) and had unresolved abandonment issues that manifested in multiple ways. , including using William as his confidant – including, it seems, speaking to him as a pal to his lovers – while still a child himself. (Hope you’re getting the therapy you need to get over this, Wills.)

Kate, on the other hand, grew up in what seems, by all accounts, to have been a loving, stable family where her parents built a business and a life beyond their wildest imaginations, together. In fact, it’s widely believed that his family and their comfortable home life was one of the main things that drew William to Kate, and one they both worked to recreate in their own family dynamics.

Her normality was what she brought to the table – and that might just be the royal family’s last hope. (After all, we’ve seen what their approach does to children *cough* Andrew *cough*.) It’s inevitable that the particulars of the life they’re born into will shape these children in ways that the rest of us We couldn’t imagine, but that doesn’t mean it’s not alleviated by a tedious trip to the grocery store and an afternoon of baking (Kate’s two favorite family activities) at the same time. That she and William make no secret of employing a nanny to make all of this happen is an embodied privilege, yes, but could also be seen as a kind of progress, a public acknowledgment of previously hidden work that allows them to having a family and doing all the royal tours and engagements too.

Kate and Charlotte walk past photographers at Westminster Abbey in March 2022. Photo: Getty Images

We’ve also seen hardworking and ambitious Capricorn Kate take a diligent and intentional approach to parenthood that looks very different to how she may have been raised in the 80s. kneels at eye level with her children to broadcast tantrums in public, for example – and the rare occasions she has spoken about it, such as when she narrated the Parenting Podcast Happy mom, happy baby that she focuses on the “quality of the relationships” with her children, “those moments you spend with the people around you”. In its own way, it’s a quietly radical break with royal tradition, which (alongside the rest of the upper class) saw nothing wrong with sending 7-year-olds to live in boarding school. It’s certainly hard to imagine the Queen saying like Kate that “cuddling is so important,” if only because she comes from a generation that didn’t have the vocabulary or the theory to do so.

In fact, Kate is so invested in nurturing, attachment-focused parenting that she has made early childhood development her main cause as a royal. On Friday, she announced her new sponsorship, the Maternal Mental Health Alliance, which helps support mothers so that their children can, in Kate’s words, receive “close and continuous care from the people around us”. It echoes a speech she gave earlier this year in Jamaica, somewhat overshadowed by controversial aspects of their royal Caribbean tour, praising the work of early childhood educators and advocates. “It is when we learn to form relationships, to connect with each other, to manage our feelings and our emotions. It is when we learn to develop a sense of identity, belonging and dignity”, said Kate, giving us some insight into why she and William have worked so hard to cocoon their three children in the countryside, keeping their public appearances to the bare minimum.

It’s also, we’re sure, why Meghan and Harry’s two children, Archie and Lilibet, have been fiercely wrapped in an invisible cloak of privacy. We literally saw an image of Lili, a side profile of their family Christmas card, released six months after her birth, although that may change soon as it has just been announced that the family of four will be heading to England next month to celebrate the Queen’s platinum jubilee, although they did not appear on the balcony for the Trooping The Color event. (Lilibet will be 1 years old during the visit!)

While Harry has spoken of both his traumatic childhood experiences in the public eye and his fatherhood (he said Today’s show last month that Archie is a serial Zoom call switch), we’ve heard less directly from Meghan, although we know from a few interviews that she’s found pregnancy and early motherhood in the royal spotlight incredibly difficult. . Like she said ITV Tom Bradby in this explosive interview during the 2019 South Africa tour: “It’s a very real thing to experience behind the scenes” and “especially as a woman, it’s a lot”. She later told Oprah that these experiences caused her to have suicidal thoughts and were a major impetus for her and Harry’s choice to step down as senior royals.

Meghan has also channeled the experience of parenthood into her activism, writing publicly about the often taboo subject of her miscarriage, for example, and campaigning for parental leave for all, saying how much she appreciates the privilege of having “vital” and “sacred” time with her newborn baby without having to worry about immediately getting back to work. Contrary to the House of Windsor motto “never complain, never explain”, it’s a kind opening that gives you hope for the Gen Alpha Royal Family.

Plus, in the face of her own rocky relationship with her dad, Meghan shows what it’s like to create a life outside of your dysfunctional family. And in her ambition, work ethic and much-criticized choice to use her royal association as a platform, not her entire identity, Meghan is also modeling her own children (and even Charlotte and Louis, who don’t have the role royal played by George) that it is possible to chart a new path within this anachronistic institution.

And that may well be the monarchy’s last and best hope for the future.

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