A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

18 Secrets the Royal Nanny Won’t Tell You

It's possible she would tell you these secrets if she weren't bound by serious confidentiality documents. But it's more likely that she would be offended at the very notion of disclosing any secrets at all about herself or her employers.

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The Christening of Princess Charlotte at St. Mary Magdalene Church in Sandringham, Britain - 05 Jul 2015

To be the royal nanny, one must first be a “nanny”

Being a nanny has about as much in common with being a babysitter as being a doctor has in common with playing doctor. To become a nanny, at least an English nanny, one must complete a training program such as the one that Maria Borrallo, Royal Nanny for Prince William and Kate Middleton’s children, took at Norland College. According to The Sun, Norland is the creme-de-la-creme of nanny training grounds.

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The wedding of Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank, Departures, Windsor, Berkshire, UK - 12 Oct 2018
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The training goes way beyond “child care”

Norland specializes in training royal nannies, teaching its students not just how to diaper babies but also how to escape kidnappers and avoid terrorists. “The nannies are taught everything from defensive driving to security issues, to how to care for a future king or queen,” Victoria Murphy says. Here are 13 more bizarre royal jobs you probably never even realized existed.

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CARL DE SOUZA/Shutterstock

The training takes at least three years to complete

The basic training at Norland, which leads to an undergraduate level degree in “Early Years Development and Learning,” is a three-year, full-time course. That is exactly the same amount of schooling it takes to become a lawyer in the U.S.

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Norland College for Nannies in Bath, Britain - 10 Nov 2006
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The classes cover the basics—and then some

With modules on Safeguarding and Child Protection, Promoting Health and Wellbeing, Making Sense of Children’s Behaviour, and Working with Families and Communities, the basic three-year degree program at Norland ends up being part child development, part child psychology, part nutrition, part security, and part social work.

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Norland College for Nannies in Bath, Britain - 10 Nov 2006
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Earning a full diploma takes a full four years

In addition to the first three years, becoming fully qualified to be a royal nanny requires an additional year of practical training. The purpose of the fourth year is to “prepare students for the practical aspects of the care and development of children in the early years (aged zero to eight),” the Norland website states. “It equips students with the practical skills and competencies…required to work…in sole charge…supporting the children and families with whom they will work.”

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Work Norland nannies in training at the Norland nanny college, Berkshire,UK

Internships are a requirement

A Newly Qualified Nanny (NQN) is a nanny who has completed three years of intensive early years training at Norland College. The NQN year is essentially an internship consisting of a full-time nanny position in which the NQN is employed by a family while having the support of Norland behind her. Don’t miss these surprising jobs held by members of the British royal family.

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Norland College for Nannies in Bath, Britain - 10 Nov 2006
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Uniforms are non-negotiable

Norland-trained nannies wear uniforms throughout their years in school and are expected to wear a uniform when working in their jobs as nannies. “This instills a sense of responsibility and pride as students represent a long and prestigious history of the highest quality,” according to the Norland website.

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The Christening of Princess Charlotte at St. Mary Magdalene Church in Sandringham, Britain - 05 Jul 2015

Written reports are a must

In addition to physically caring for your royal charges, supporting and providing activities aimed toward their holistic development, providing well-balanced and nutritious meals, administering medicines, cleaning and tidying, running errands for the family, traveling with the children, and otherwise maintaining fully open lines of communication with the family about the children and all aspects of their care, you will be required to regularly prepare “documentation to keep the parents informed about their children’s care, wellbeing, and development.”

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Trooping the Colour ceremony, London, Britain - 13 Jun 2015
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She knows how to spot photographers

The royal nanny must assume that she will be photographed by the press, and she must assume that part of her job will be maintaining the appearance of not being interested in being photographed by the press. In addition, she’ll have to be constantly cognizant of photographers trying to snap photos of the royal children, particularly when the royal children might not be behaving as royal children “should be” behaving.

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Royal family Christmas lunch, Buckingham Palace, London, Britain - 16 Dec 2015
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She’s used to living under a microscope

The royal nanny’s social life, family life, personal hygiene, and even her haircut have been subjected to scrutiny by the public. And before anyone can be employed at all as a royal nanny, she will be subject to a background check in the form of the U.K. Disclosure and Barring Service, and that background check will have to be updated every three years.

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Adrian Dennis/Shutterstock

Education doesn’t stop upon graduation

Norland nannies, including the royal nanny, are “strongly advised” to undertake at least 15 hours per year of continuing professional development to ensure they are keeping up to date with the latest best practices of child care and early years research.

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MARION CRAWFORD, England United Kingdom

She has likely signed a confidentiality agreement

When the royal nanny who cared for Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret wrote a tell-all book, The Little Princesses: The Story of the Queen’s Childhood by Her Nanny, it caused a huge scandal, according to Care.com. These days, it would be unlikely a royal nanny would be hired without signing a confidentiality/non-disclosure agreement, the effect of which would make it impossible to write a tell-all book about her experiences as royal nanny. Check out these bizarre perks of the royal family.

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Royal family Christmas lunch, Buckingham Palace, London, Britain - 17 Dec 2014
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Her opinion will be sought

“Former royal nannies have been able to offer their views, make suggestions, and use their professional skills,” according to Care.com, but these days, royal nannies tend to be expected to play an even more significant role in raising the royal children. In fact, one aspect of Norland’s training is about how to advise parents and to navigate the politics of advising parents about how to properly care for their children.

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Prince William and Catherine Duchess of Cambridge visit Wellington, New Zealand - 09 Apr 2014

Her work is highly valued

It’s a sad state of affairs that in the United States, child care work carries far less prestige than many other types of work. Babysitters and nannies in America are often undocumented immigrants who were unable to find “better” work when they arrived in this country. By contrast, the work of the royal nanny tends to be highly valued, royal nannies are highly respected, the job of royal nanny (or any trained English nanny, really) is one of high prestige. These are the 20 things your babysitter secretly wants you to know.

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The Wedding of Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank, Windsor, Berkshire, UK - 12 Oct 2018
DAVID HARTLEY/Shutterstock

Walking a fine line is part of the job description

While the royal nanny is charged with caring for the young Royal Highnesses, she’s also encouraged to give them as “normal” an experience as possible. “She lets the kids be kids,” Town and Country writes of Nanny Maria. And sometimes that means getting right onto their level with them, participating in such activities as riding bikes with them in the park.
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Wedding of James Matthews and Pippa Middleton, St Mark's Church, Englefield, UK - 20 May 2017

But one thing that’s off limits is corporal punishment

While corporal punishment (spanking and the like) is accepted parental behavior in ordinary families (although not necessarily the best course of action, according to experts), it is not permitted to be carried out by the royal nanny. In fact, Norland College specifically forbids it. That said, a stern talking-to would be acceptable if a child’s behavior requires correction.
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Prince William and Catherine Duchess of Cambridge visit to Poland - 17 Jul 2017

There’s only one royal nanny for George, Charlotte, and Louis, but that’s not the whole story…

The royal family hires only one royal nanny, even when there are three or more children, as is the case with William and Catherine’s brood. That being said, the royal nanny is far from the only royal staff member charged with taking care of the needs of the tiny royal highnesses. So Nanny Maria is assisted by a team of nursemaids to oversee the health of the kids, domestic staff members to clean up after everyone, a travel team for tours, an event planner, and a chef to prepare the royal chicken nuggets.
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Baby Archie
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Archie is already on his third nanny

Royal baby Archie has had three nannies before even turning a year. Meghan and Harry let the first nanny go because she was reportedly unprofessional and the second nanny was hired to only work nights. The newest nanny has still not been publicy named, but she is going to join the family on their royal tour to South Africa this year. Read on for 50 more things you never knew about the British royal family.

Lauren Cahn
Lauren Cahn is a New York–based writer whose work has appeared regularly on Reader's Digest and in a variety of other publications since 2008. She covers life and style, popular culture, law, religion, health, fitness, yoga, entertaining and entertainment. Lauren is also an author of crime fiction, and her first full-length manuscript, "The Trust Game," was short-listed for the 2017 CLUE Award for emerging talent in the genre of suspense fiction.