Valley Public Radio - Live Audio

Growing Up Royal

Jul 24, 2013

The infant prince, third in line to the British throne, is now home with his parents, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

His life will be one of privilege, of course, but also one of formal duty and protocol.

For some perspective, consider the childhood of his great-grandmother, Queen Elizabeth, who grew up during World War II. The Queen visited her great-grandson for the first time today.

The BBC’s Nicola Stanbridge reports on the life of an heir to the throne.


Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit



Queen Elizabeth saw her new great grandson today. If you haven't heard, his name is George Alexander Louis. There goes the office poll. Anyway, the queen made the short trip from Buckingham to Kensington Palace to visit the two-day old Prince of Cambridge, third in line to the throne she now occupies. The infant prince will, of course, lead a life of privilege, but also one of formal duty and protocol just as his great grandmother has, as the BBC's Nicola Stanbridge reports.

NICOLA STANBRIDGE: The last three generations of the royal family have given interviews early on in life, offering a little insight into their childhoods. In 1940, Princess Elizabeth revealed her sense of duty, confidence and responsibility aged just 14.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: This is the BBC Home Service. Hello, children everywhere.

PRINCESS ELIZABETH: In wishing you all good evening, I feel that I am speaking to friends and companions who have shared with my sister and myself many a happy children's hour. Thousands of you in this country have had to leave your homes and be separated from your fathers and mothers. My sister, Margaret Rose, and I feel so much for you as we know from experience what it means to be away from those we love most of all.

STANBRIDGE: The queen spent much of her wartime childhood in Windsor where we visited her first cousin and friend, Margaret Rhodes.

MARGARET RHODES: The king and queen at that stage were going around the country. Therefore, the children were bereft of parents for the whole of the inside week even if they had them perhaps at weekends.

STANBRIDGE: You had the same nanny, Clara Knight, as the queen for a while. What would that have been like in terms of discipline and a stabilizing force for the queen?

RHODES: Well, Alah, as she was named, she was a cornerstone of a really well-run nursery, a partner in fun as well as being a strict disciplinarian.

STANBRIDGE: Is there an equivalent of a royal naughty step? How far could punishment go?

RHODES: Oh, I don't honestly remember anything in particular (unintelligible). I mean, I think in those days, if there was the smallest reprimand from somebody one loved like Alah the nanny, we were a very obedient lot. We did what we were told.

CHRISTINA HARDYMENT: Princess Elizabeth was also brought up at a time when childcare was very formal.

STANBRIDGE: Author and childcare historian Christina Hardyment.

HARDYMENT: This was the era of Truby King and Mothercraft. Children should certainly be seen and not heard, and you cried outside in your pram and it was good for exercise. Elizabeth was the last of the royals not to go to school. Crawfie, who came when she was only 5 years old, was her governess. She remained a tremendous background, solid figure.

STANBRIDGE: Prince Charles was the first heir to the throne to go to school rather than have a private tutor, even spending two terms in Australia.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: Timbertop School, an upcountry department of Geelong Grammar School, will have Prince Charles as a pupil this summer. At London Airport, the heir to the throne prepared to say goodbye to Britain for a few months. The Duke of Edinburgh and Princess Anne saw him off.

STANBRIDGE: In 1969, aged 20, Prince Charles talked about his schooling to Jack de Manio on the "Today" program.


PRINCE CHARLES: It was a very sad moment, of course, leaving England and seeing one's father and sister standing on the tarmac and waving one goodbye.

JACK DE MANIO: What sort of life was it there? What did you have to do?

CHARLES: It was a very rigorous life. It was tougher than Gordonstoun. You have to go on expeditions every weekend into the bush, and you had two cross-countries a week. The first ones I had when I got there were absolutely horrifying. It was 90 degrees in the shade and flies everywhere. And you sort of ran around amongst the kangaroos and things, dust and everything.

STANBRIDGE: Prince Charles appears close to his sons. In 1984, Prince William's first words in public are heard just before his second birthday at Kensington Palace.


PRINCE WILLIAM: Daddy, Daddy, Daddy, Daddy.

HARDYMENT: The fashionable baby care book of the time was the continuum complex. Idea is that the child is literally strapped to the mother all the time. Diana wanted to spend lots of time with them and so, she says herself, did Charles. And he used to rush home and bottle feed the children. And the children were very close to him and very fond of him.

STANBRIDGE: Both Christina Hardyment and Margaret Rhodes urge caution moving away from the traditional stability of a nanny and nursery.

RHODES: Well, I think now parents tend to look upon having a well-run nursery as the mother being too remote from their child. But for a mother who - and father, whatever kind of duty they do - it's obviously essential, because one of the things that, I think, a lot of people slightly criticized the queen for going off on trips abroad, which in those 1950 days, usually meant actually almost away for up to six months. And so, therefore, she was a way from her very small children for quite a long time, which must actually have been rather agony for her.

Again, the word duty superseded the mother's love. Therefore, it was absolutely vital to have a constant, organized, you know, within a framework, for the child to grow up and feeling secure and safe, even if without their parents for a certain amount of time.

STANBRIDGE: William went with Diana and Charles when they went off for six months, and he was only one year old. And it certainly sounds as if William and Kate have every intention of giving their children as normal a childhood as possible, hoping to have less nannies. But I think they might well find out that the tried and tested idea of having a nanny and a spare, as it were, is quite a good idea - very wise, not flamboyantly extravagant.

YOUNG: That report from the BBC's Nicola Stanbridge.


And an update now on another story we have been following: The White House says it is seeking clarity from Russian authorities about the status of NSA leaker Edward Snowden. A state-run news agency in Russia said Snowden has a document that might allow him to leave the transit area of the Moscow airport, where he's been for more than a month. But Snowden's lawyers say Snowden is staying put at the airport for now. Russian President Vladimir Putin has said Snowden can stay in Russia if he stops leaking secrets, but the BBC's Oleg Boldyrev in Moscow says it's not clear whether today's news means he's going to be granted asylum.

OLEG BOLDYREV: Putin is in a difficult position. Russian was very glad to see all this saga unfolding, and they have no intention of giving Mr. Snowden up to the United States, but it fully expected him to go to a third country. Numerous Russian officials, from Russian president to Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, said that they expect Snowden to go. When it later transpired that there is very difficult barrier on the way of Mr. Snowden to Latin America, Moscow said well, we'll have to give him asylum, because he asked for one, and because, you know, we're not giving away people to the United States. There's no extradition treaty.

HOBSON: That's the BBC's Oleg Boldyrev, in Moscow. Well, coming up next, NPR's Mara Liasson on President Obama's speech in Galesburg, and we'll also hear why presidents and presidents-to-be love to visit that town. Back in a minute, HERE AND NOW. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.