Not Royal but Remarkable

100_0175The attention of the whole country was focussed on a charming country house set amid quiet leafy lanes. Everyone was waiting for the Royal baby to be born. The Royal mother had gone home to her mother to have her first baby, which would be the Queen’s great grandson. And it would be the first time in history that there had been three generations of heirs to the throne. When the baby was born, he and his mother stayed with their grandmother at White Lodge for another six weeks.

 So many people wanted to congratulate Princess May, who later became Queen Mary, that a marquee was set up on the lawn for hundreds of people to sign the visitors’ book. Queen Victoria came over from Windsor to see the baby, bringing her grand-daughter Alex, and her fiancée- soon to become last Tsar and Tsarina of Russia and eventually meet their fate at Ekaterinburg.

 History repeats itself. A hundred and nineteen years later, another mother- to- be and baby are keeping everyone waiting.  Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge is going home to her mother’s country home for six weeks, and her baby is also the third in line to the throne. But her baby is the lucky one, whatever lies ahead. And this baby’s great grandmother, Queen Elizabeth, is also awaiting news of the birth at Windsor.

 The baby born to Princess May was David, better known as Edward V111, the only king to have abdicated. His mother was not a natural mother, and left him to his nanny. She used to pinch the baby before he came into the room in the evening to see his parents, so he entered, crying, and was hastily sent back in disgrace to his nanny. When he was three this woman had a nervous breakdown, and it was discovered that she had not had a day off in three years.

 The next generation was this Queen, and her mother used her own old nanny – Alah, who gave the Queen and Princess Margaret a happy tranquil childhood. This was not the case for the Queens’ children, who had a fierce old dragon to look after them. Like all the Royal children before them, except for Queen Alexandra’s, Charles and his brothers and sisters too only saw their mother for an hour before bed-time, and for a short time in the morning. Someone who knew the Queen well has commented that if she had given her children the same time and attention she had given to her horses, things might have turned out differently.

 We all know that Charles’ wife Diana was a devoted mother. But she was back at work within two months carrying out Royal duties, leaving William in the care of his nanny Barbara Barnes. He adored her, and one day after Diana found him cuddled up in bed in the morning with his nanny, she couldn’t cope with this competition so Barbara Barnes left when he was four…  a huge emotional blow for him.

 So his decision and his wife’s to manage without a nanny is a huge breakthrough in the pattern of Royal maternal and emotional deprivation! Catherine – as she is known in her family rather than the media’s Kate – is the daughter of a devoted hands- on mother. Carol Middleton has endured many slights for her humble background as a working- class builder’s daughter, and as an upwardly mobile air hostess.

 But the slim, elegant figure in pale blue who arrived at Westminster Abbey for her daughter’s wedding is a remarkable woman. When her children went to Marlborough other parents said they just gave up – they couldn’t cope with the care that she gave her children right down the beautifully embroidered and hand sewn Cash’s name-tapes on their clothes. We all had these name tapes in my day, but most people use indelible marking pencils these days. She didn’t just give her own children hampers of tuck food, but also supplied a girl from a broken home with a hamper too.

 When her flamboyant younger brother who she had always mothered, was set up by the press for a drug sting, rather than belabour him for the bad publicity, she rang and apologised that because of their public profile with Kate, he had been targeted. She’s kind, sensible and conscientious.

 And as everyone knows she is the creator and driving force behind the thriving business which supports their now rich life-style. When Catherine was born, her mother devised a little business from her kitchen table so that she could stay at home with the children. From this grew their party-bags empire.

 William spends much time in her home with great enjoyment, savouring the tight-knit family and loving informality he never knew. Carole Middleton sounds as though she’ll be the perfect grandmother – always there, experienced, loving, and well-adjusted. So this baby, born in the green English country-side will have all the good fairies ranged on his/her side, and people watchers and royalty fans will have a new and intriguing family saga to watch.

 And the builder’s daughter born in a council house, brought up by working class parents with the values of hard work, thrift and good manners will be the the most important maker and shaper of a modern king or queen – if the monarchy lasts for another fifty years.

 Walter Bagehot, the Victorian authority on Royalty famously wrote that a ‘Princely marriage is the brilliant edition of a universal fact”, and the birth of a new prince or princess to a couple who we’ve followed with various degrees of interest for years is magnified also. To see Diana’s son emerge from all his childhood traumas to become a father in his own right is of immense interest to many of us, monarchists or not… there’s something irresistible about watching glamour and goodness combined with history, high fashion, drama and domesticity. And this is where Carole Middleton- grandmother- waiting, steps onto the stage to join the other players !


Food for Threadbare Gourmets

 I get bored with bread ! So sometimes I make something else to go with bread and cheese – this is a courgette loaf, good with soft blue cheese, or even just good old Cheddar. Mix two cups of SR flour with one cup of grated courgette/zucchini, half a teasp salt, one teasp mild curry powder, and a cup of grated cheese like Cheddar.  Add a quarter of a cup of oil, one egg and one and three quarters of a cup of milk.

 Lightly mix and tip into a greased loaf tin. Sprinkle the top with grated cheese and bake in a hot oven for forty minutes or so until brown. Switch the oven down after ten to fifteen minutes if it starts to brown too quickly. Serve warm with butter and cheese for a tasty supper…

 Food for Thought

 The feminine principle is the eagerness to collaborate rather than compete, it is the eagerness to relate rather than stand out as an individual, it is the longing for harmony and community and caring and nurturing.

 Lynne Twist –  Global activist, fundraiser, speaker, consultant, coach and author. Dedicated to global initiatives that serve humanity.







Filed under cookery/recipes, family, food, happiness, history, kate and pippa middleton, life/style, princess diana, Queen Elizabeth, Royals, The Sound of Water, Thoughts on writing and life, Uncategorized

52 responses to “Not Royal but Remarkable

  1. I’m glad the Duke and Duchess won’t have a nanny. Maybe this child can grow up more normal between that and a “commoner” grandmother.


  2. Juliet

    This is so interesting Valerie, the background to the royal childhoods that you have discovered. I feel so sorry for those royal children who grew up so neglected emotionally. Let’s hope that the new baby has a good chance of a loving childhood.


  3. Thank you Juliet, I’m so glad you found it interesting… I find watching the different generations of families fascinating and this looks like a whole new ball game with these two parents…


  4. She seems ideal to present the sort of bridge and balance which will be so valuable to the couple.
    Interesting the ‘Kate’ press construct. Perhaps quite a good one, in a way – it reduces the remoteness and adds to the ‘common’ touch everyone thinks they want from their royalty (while still expecting them to be larger-than-life).


  5. This was excellent – enjoyed every detail, for it is about the important role of a mother within the life of a child. We all want our children to find happiness within their lives. What better place to start than in childhood. Thank you for sharing your meaningful and life-affirming insights!


  6. The best of both worlds it seems. That was like reading a wonderful fairytale. 🙂 So any guesses on a name?


  7. excellent–love the insights and the food for thought


  8. Dear Valerie,

    You have a royal knack for making history entertaining. I find myself wishing that you had written the history books. Perhaps I wouldn’t have slept through history classes. Or perhaps it takes the wisdom of age to truly appreciate the past.
    Suffice it to say I really enjoyed your insights into the royal family.




  9. Lovely to have the forthcoming royal birth put in to the context of other royal births. History almost repeats itself but not quite; subtle and significant changes occur with each generation. The most important development, as I see it, is that, whether boy or girl, the baby will eventually be monarch.


  10. Amy

    Fascinating stories! Wonderful reading while we are waiting. Thank you, Valerie!


  11. Remarkable indeed, and honourable too!
    Collaboration is often superior to competition.
    It’s not a gender thing, it’s the right thing to do.
    Lovely post!


    • So glad you enjoyed the post… yes, I agree collaboration, when everyone is working together for the highest good of everyone is the only way to go… I think Lynne Twist was referring to the feminine principle which we all possess, like the masculine principle – anima – animus, rather than discussing gender… thanks for commenting, good to hear from you…


  12. Thank you for the very human history lesson and the deservedly positive profile of Carole Middleton.


  13. I think it is wonderful that they are setting their OWN plans for how things will be!



    • Yes, isn’t it great – William is his own man when he wants things done… and I’ve just heard that Catherine has gone to hospital, from Clanmother in Canada !
      Isn’t it fun the way the news travels from blogger to blogger !


  14. used you as my muse today for my post–thank you


  15. I adore the quote…it says it all! I’m going to look for Lynne Twist.

    Yes, the royal baby! What an informative intro into the excitement of so many. I heard about the medical staff having to stop embittering a month before the birth. I found myself thinking…doesn’t every child deserve the same consideration and dignity? That’s not an anti-royalist comment…it comes from my never having had a baby and therefore never considering babies being delivered in less than respectful environments.

    I need to determine whether I’m naive or simply old fashioned, Valerie.


    • Isn’t it interesting how we can all read something different into the same words ?…
      I took out of the fact that they were told not to drink was that no-one in the team wanted a weak link in the chain cause by withdrawal symptoms or nervousness… that they were really minding their backs…and ensuring that nothing could go wrong. not for the baby – but for them !!!
      as you would after the tragedy of the hoax calls to the hospital…!!!.


  16. Pingback: The world waits | Homepaddock

  17. Thanks for that history lesson. A great educational post. I learned a lot, interesting although I am actually not interested in royalty.
    Have a happy week


    • Great to hear from you Klausbernd… I know what you mean… I’m fascinated by the Royals because I’m fascinated by heredity, and they are such a well-documented family that you can see the patterns through so many generations – exaggerated until recently, by in-breeding… This Queen’s mother being the first outsider to marry in….


  18. Luanne

    Maybe the maternal grandmother could take care of the child, as my grandmother took care of me. Thanks for teaching me about the ways of the royals, Valerie!


  19. Patty B

    What a lovely story and only endears Catherine and William more to my heart. I do have a question, why is she not called Princess Catherine? Diana was called Princess Diana. Just curious.


    • Yes, she was – but it was technically incorrect. The media called her that, as she was married to the Prince of Wales..But to be correct, she should just have been called the Princess of Wales – similarly Catherine, who is Duchess of Cambridge, but not Princess Catherine.
      When Princesses of Wales were called by their names in the past, like Princess Alexandra, it was because they were Royal and had been born princesses….
      Thank you for commenting Patty. So good to hear from you


      • Patty B

        Interesting fact – Like Diane though, Catherine is still a princess to me and a beautiful one at that! But now I know the correct name to call her.


  20. Congrajulations! It’s a King!!
    I never knew the story about Diana’s jealousy and firing of the nanny. How horrible! I had to work full time when my children were little and the nanny was a critical part of our family because she was important to the children, and to me!
    How wonderful it is that Catherine and William will be hands on parents.
    It’s a first!
    The Queen also left Charles for an extended period when he was a baby.
    What wonderful information you have packed into this post! I learned a lot. Thank you~


    • Great to hear from you Cindy… yes, the Queen often left him, but the six month Coronation tour would have been a killer… I’ve never forgotten the picture of three year od Charles bowing and shaking his mother’s hand when they were re-united – beats everything doesn’t it ! Yes, my daughter had her step-sister as her nanny till the grand-children were ten and eleven, and it was ideal… they still meet of course…if only we could keep child care in the family, or make sure that only love comes into the equation !!! Glad you enjoyed the story Cindy… I always love your pertinent comments…


  21. Well, I also did not know most of this. What an excellent essay. I WAS a Nanny and it is a dicey road, making sure the parents don’t get jealous. Very hard not to really. But the royal couple will need some help, after all there are many occasions when they will have to be elsewhere together. Maybe they are just not having ONE nanny, but there will be staff I am sure. I loved hearing about the maternal grandmother..good sense is hard to come by sometimes. .. c


  22. Again, you are a marvelous teacher. People over here have mocked the excitement surrounding the birth of Prince George. Not me. I got up in the middle of the night for Charles and Diana’s wedding. The royalty fascinates me and Catherine and William are returning grace and good humor to the institution.


    • Maggie, thank you for your enthusiasm… yes, I suppose lots of people would find it hard to get excited about the birth of a baby, but they miss a lot of fun !!!
      Yes, the Young Ones are bring back the spice and the fun to it all… anyway i’d rather follow them than the Kardashians !!!!


  23. Michele Seminara

    Thanks Valerie, a fascinating insight. And perhaps another first just as important – I think this lucky baby will also have an engaged and hands on father to guide him!


    • yes, it’s all rather sweet, isn’t it, watching William wrestling with the car seat, and driving his little family away! I’m a devotee of UK Mail Online at these times to get all the pics I can’t resist !!!


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