What the royal parenting styles say about Kate, Meghan & Zara.
Posted by: Sue Atkins
I was asked to write about the Royal styles of parenting for The Sun’ newsapaper recently & how they have changed over the years.
RAISING kids is no mean feat, with everyone’s approach slightly different to the next – and despite strict royal protocol, it seems the women of the British royal family each have their own way too.
Prince William revealed last week that he struggles with homeschooling – even finding Year 2 maths a challenge – while Kate Middleton has “more patience” when it comes to their kids George, seven, Charlotte, five, and Louis, two.
The Duchess of Cambridge, 38, has also frequently been admired for how the royal tots behave in public, and how they rarely put a toe out of line.
So what does that say about her parenting style and how does she compare to the other royal mums?
Fabulous spoke with parenting expert, broadcaster, speaker and author, Sue Atkins, who explained what type of parent each of the royal women are and what it says about them.
The Duchess of Cambridge, 38, is known to be a warm and sensitive mum, but isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty when she needs to.
Sue, who is the author of Parenting Made Easy – How to Raise Happy Children and Raising Happy Children for Dummies, explained that the mum-of -three acts as a ‘lighthouse’ to her children – always guiding them in the right direction and watching them from the sidelines.
Both her and Prince William are strict about screen time, though, and make sure all three kids spend lots of time outdoors. They’re also careful about disciplining their children, and make sure to absolutely never shout or yell.
Kate often involves herself in activities with the kids with Sue adding: “She seems to have a warm bond with her children. ”
Plus, not only does she “soothe her kid’s temper tantrums”, but she and William often “get on eye level and this behaviour shows that their children are their primary focus,” Sue said.
Meghan Markle – The Lawnmower Mum
Since Archie was born in May last year, Meghan, 39, and Harry, 35, have kept their son well out of the public eye, and it’s clear that Meghan has taken different a approach to bringing up her little one.
Sue explained that Meg shows signs of being a ‘Helicopter’ mums paying extremely close attention to their child’s experiences and problems and says this can often lead to a ‘lawnmower’ parent who will go out of their way to remove obstacles from their kids’ lives.
Meghan and Harry’s decision to move from the UK and out of the royal spotlight is a clear example of this.
Sue said: “Meghan takes a modern approach to parenting and trusts in her own decisions. Even when Meghan was preparing the give birth, she made it clear she would do things her own way as a parent.”
“She chose to have her own birth plan rather than stick to the usual birth of royal babies.
And added: “She also didn’t go along with the day-of-birth photo opportunity that Diana or Kate had and she also chose a modern buggy rather than the classic Silver Cross that was used by royals – and Kate and William – for generations.”
As for the future, Sue said: ” I think she will be proactive in passing on her values & beliefs to her son Archie with an Authoritative Style of parenting modelling healthy living, exercise & the importance of talking about problems & feelings to maintain healthy mental health & wellbeing.”
Zara Tindall – The Free-Range Mum
As the eldest granddaughter of the Queen and daughter of Princess Anne, Zara, 39, and husband Mike Tindall, 41 are a down-to-earth couple who don’t let their royal links impact how they raise their children.
The laid back mum to Mia, six and Lena, two previously admitted she would prefer their children to choose their own career path.
In contrast to the more overbearing styles out there, Sue explains Zara’s ‘free-range’ parenting takes a hands-off approach in order to raise self-reliant kids who aren’t sheltered.
By trusting kids’ independence, these parents allow them to have more freedom to do as they please and often involves trial-and-error and risk-taking.
Just like us regular folk, Zara has admitted to struggling with work and parenting – particularly recently while homeschooling Mia.
Sue said: “Zara and Mike seem to have a relaxed, cheerful, hands on approach to raising their kids and she encourages to speak their mind.
“Zara sometimes appears to embrace the Authoritative Style of parenting and she often speaks about the importance of spending time with family and playing with her children.”
Queen – The Tiger Mum
Her Majesty, 94, first became a mum to Prince Charles over 70 years ago and followed on to raise another three – Princess Anne, 69, Prince Andrew, 60, and Prince Edward, 56.
But the Queen is from a different era where duty always comes first and was also in the unusual position raising four children as a monarch, Sue explained
Tiger parenting is a form of strict or demanding parenting, according to Sue, who said parents with this style often push and pressure their children to attaining high levels achievement or success.
She said: “The Queen may have been Authoritarian in her style, slightly aloof and distant with very high expectations and rules.”
According to historian Robert Lacy, who also served as an advisor for The Crown and is the author of ‘The Crown: The Official Companion’, the Queen believed it was better to leave the children in the care of nannies rather than drag them around the world on royal duties.
He said: “She had been brought up in that style herself, after all, with her parents leaving her at home and entrusting her entire schooling to a governess and home tutors.”
Princess Diana – The Dolphin Mum
Princess Diana had a very informal attitude to royal protocol and her parenting style struck a chord with the public.
“She made [William and Harry] aware of their privilege in a way that previous generations hadn’t,” Sue said.
She explained that being a Dolphin Mum is based on maintaining balance in kids’ lives and the idea is to gently yet authoritatively guide them – which Diana did.
“Princess Diana was the first real royal mum to submerge her children in ordinary life,” she said, “They went to theme parks, they went to McDonalds, they went and visited the homeless, they went and visited AIDS patients. ”
Her approach to motherhood was nurturing, encouraging, and affectionate, and she loved spending time with her kids.
“She loved to be close to her children, rather than leaving them behind while she carried out her official role, she often tried to include them,” Sue said.
And added: “Her love of children can be seen in the jobs she chose before entering royal life. She worked both as a nanny and as a nursery teacher’s assistant. And her very public displays of affection were very new for the typically reserved royal family.”
According to Sue, this style of parenting is beneficial for kids because it allows them to grow and learn on their own.
“Sophie’s approach to parenting seems to be a tribute to Princess Anne who raised her children to have as normal a life as possible,” Sue said.
Married to Prince Edward, the Queen’s youngest son, Sophie, 55, has a ‘gentle’ approach to parenting, according to Sue, who says “the peaceful and positive approach to parenting is different from the traditional authoritarian ‘old school’ parenting style.”
It’s a parenting mind-set characterised by empathy, respect, understanding and boundaries, with Sophie raising her kids – Louise, 16, and James, 12, – with the expectation they will have to work for a living
Princess Anne – The Tortoise Mum
“Princess Anne seems to be down to earth, matter of fact, with clear rules and expectations,” said Sue, who described her parenting style as “simplistic” but still stands for “no fuss or nonsense”.
Sue explained that ‘tortoise’ parents rarely arrange activities for the kids, or dictate when things will happen, instead, they are allowed to explore the world at their own pace.
As a grandmother to four, Sue explains that she seems more relaxed, affectionate and fun, regularly being spotted laughing, cracking jokes and pulling silly faces with her younger two.