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Princess Diana: the woman who changed Royal motherhood for good

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As we count down the days until Meghan introduces the newest member of the Royal Family to the world, True Royalty TV shines a light on another revolutionary Royal mother. Secrets of the Royal Nursery looks at Princess Diana and how she proved to the world that you could be both Royal and a devoted mother.

The Royal Family has always maintained a strict policy of ‘stiff upper lip’, reflecting one of the defining characteristics of the country they serve. Nowhere has this been more evident than in Queen Elizabeth II, a monarch whose time on the throne has been defined by her neutrality – whether that be emotionally or politically.

Her emotional restraint can be seen in the Queen’s interactions with her own children. Upon returning from her month long tour of Canada in 1951, The then Princess Elizabeth famously greeted her then 2-year-old son, Prince Charles, with a brief affectionless peck on his head before greeting the rest of her family at Paddington Station.

This emotional distance among the Royals was challenged in 1982. It was a monumental year which saw the Queen’s example set aside with the arrival of Princess Diana’s firstborn son, William. “Diana just changed the face of Royal upbringing,” says Ingrid Seward, in Secrets of the Royal Nursery. “Suddenly you thought: ‘these are real children!’”

“Sometimes [Diana] would look at them and say ‘I love both of you but that doesn’t mean to say I like you.'”

Everything Diana did contradicted the precedent set by her Royal mother-in-law. She took William on her tour of Australia, she showed public affection towards him in front of the paparazzi and even – at times – dressed like an everyday mum on the school run.

“Diana broke all the rules,” says David Emanuel, Diana’s fashion designer. “She wore loads of different trend-setting things like trousers. Royals were never photographed wearing trousers; it was a complete change in the world of contemporary fashion.”

Another side of Royal parenting that Diana embraced was disciplining her children when they misbehaved. Secrets of the Royal Nursery sheds light on this aspect of Diana – a side not often seen in the public eye, but nevertheless a significant part of her life.

“They weren’t perfect,” says Diana’s former bodyguard, Ken Wharfe, describing Princes William and Harry. “Sometimes she would look at them and say ‘I love both of you but that doesn’t mean to say I like you, because I don’t like either of you sometimes.’ They liked that, that registered with them.”

Battling against centuries of restrained, distant parenting, Diana played a considerable role in showing the world what it meant to be a modern Royal mother. Despite being a part of the most famous family in the world, Ken Wharfe remembers “Diana had this amazing phrase: ‘I want to be normal.’” It was this approach that she took to raising her children, too.

You can catch the whole of Secrets of the Royal Nursery on True Royalty TV by clicking here.

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