The Queen has provided a rare insight into life behind the palace gates with her great-grandchildren – and it might come as something of a surprise. In fact, while the public may imagine that the little princes and princesses live lives entirely unlike those of other children, this isn’t quite true. The Queen, you see, has revealed that the young royals can be just as mischievous as any other tiny tykes.
Queen Elizabeth II, 92, is the proud great-grandmother of seven children. Her grandson Peter Phillips has two daughters with his wife Autumn. His sister Zara Tindall, meanwhile, is mother to Mia, four, and Lena, born in June 2018. It is Prince William and Kate Middleton’s brood of three, though, who command the most public attention. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge welcomed their son Prince George in 2013, and daughter Princess Charlotte arrived in 2015. And the family’s newest addition, Prince Louis, came into the world in April 2018.
Of course, the royal family tree could also soon develop another branch if newlyweds Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have their own children. The smitten pair haven’t yet revealed plans, but there is speculation that the stork may be making a delivery sometime in the future.
Royal protocol being what it is, we’ve seen little of life behind the scenes outside of official portraits and appearances at special events. We do get the odd glimpse, though, of how the new generation of royals are parenting their little ones. And it seems that it’s not really so different to what goes on in most families.
Kate and William have consistently made it clear that they want to raise their children as part of a normal family. They have enrolled them in nurseries and schools and dress them in affordable clothes; the kids have even been seen in hand-me-downs.
In 2016 William opened up about the family’s approach. In an interview, he told the BBC’s Nicholas Witchell, “As far as we’re concerned, within our family unit we are a normal family.” He continued, “I love my children the same way any father does, and I hope George loves me the same way any son does to his father, so we are very normal in that sense.”
And while the royal children look picture perfect in the snaps that the family share, Kate has said that, just like everyone else, they enjoy getting stuck in. During a visit to a community center, the duchess helped to prepare food and said, “I’ve done that with George and Charlotte – making pizza dough. They love it because they can get their hands messy.”
Despite their parents’ efforts, the children also appear to be starting to realize that the world’s eyes are on them. Yes, both George and Charlotte seem to understand that they are the subject of scrutiny. Charlotte stole the show, for example, when she displayed her regal wave after arriving at St. Mary’s Hospital in London to meet her new baby brother.
The three-year-old also showed off her cheeky side when she poked her tongue out after Harry and Meghan’s wedding. Yes, while the little flower girl appeared to behave impeccably during the service, pictures published afterward captured her with her tongue out as she sat in a car.
The image led the press to ask whether the three-year-old was taking a leaf out of her uncle’s book. Many years ago, Harry was snapped poking his tongue out at photographers – smiling and waggling it as the delighted paparazzi clicked away.
In a scene at Hamburg airport in July 2017, meanwhile, Charlotte appeared to suffer a bout of the terrible twos on the tarmac. As the cameras rolled, the little girl briefly stamped her feet as the family waited to board a helicopter.
After a few seconds – and a little talk with her mom – the storm had passed, and the tour seemed to go on without incident. However, the moment was enough to illustrate that children will be children, royal or not.
George has also had his moments. His father affectionately referred to him as “a little monkey” in one interview; and Kate has suggested that, on occasion, he can be a little difficult to contain.
During a visit to India, the royal couple explained that the reason George was not with them was because he was “too naughty.” “He would be running all over the place,” The Daily Telegraph quoted Kate as saying. “The next time we come, we will definitely bring them.”
And some of these scenes of misbehavior have in fact been caught on camera. Indeed, at the wedding of Kate’s sister, Pippa Middleton, photographs emerged that appeared to show Kate having some stern words with the tot. George looked a little tearful after his telling off, too, raising the question of what exactly he had done wrong.
That’s not the end of it, though. The Queen herself has now revealed a few facts about how the children get along with each other. And the monarch – called “Gan Gan” by George – herself appears to dote on her great-grandchildren. Indeed, Kate has said that she leaves them little gifts in their rooms whenever they stay with her. But even so, it would seem that the children aren’t always perfectly behaved for their great-grandmother.
In TV documentary The Queen’s Green Planet, footage showed the monarch looking at a huge Christmas tree. As she admired it, she indicated the sparkling decorations. “This is always the problem,” she said. “The children love knocking those off… Well, my great-grandchildren do.”
The Queen even seemed to suggest that William and Harry and their cousins haven’t entirely grown out of messing up the tree. “Even the grandchildren still [knock the decorations off],” she noted. She had a tip on how to encourage good behavior, though. “The great thing is to make them decorate it, and then they’re a bit more careful about it,” she said.
And William and Kate are no doubt grateful for their grandmother’s input. William has previously referred to the Queen as being a “guiding” presence in their family lives. He has also spoken about how happy he is that his children get to have a relationship with her.
Speaking at an event marking the monarch’s 90th birthday, William summed up his feelings. Quoted by the Daily Mirror, he said, “I am so glad that my children are having the chance to get to know the Queen. George and Charlotte, too, will discover how lucky they are to have such a wonderful great-grandmother – a role model for the rest of their lives.” Ultimately, while the little royals may be far more ordinary than one might imagine, they do have the unusual privilege of having the Queen as a doting great-grandmother.