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The nannies who have devoted themselves to raising the young royals

09 JULY 2013

It remains to be seen whether Kate Middleton and Prince William will employ a nanny to help them look after their baby. The couple are keen to be hands-on parents, and by all accounts Carole Middleton will be an active grandmother.

It is likely that Britain's most famous new mum and dad will have some help though, especially as nannies have played such an important part in the royal household in the past.

 

Royal nannies

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In this special report, we look at the nannies that have brought up generations of royal babies.

 



Tiggy Legge-Bourke
Nanny to Princes William and Harry, 1993 - 1999


• Nicknamed Tiggy after her favourite fictional character: Beatrix Potter's hedgehog Mrs Tiggy-Winkle
• Her mother Shan was lady-in-waiting to Princess Anne
• She joined Prince Charles' household while he and Princess Diana were separating so was a strong source of emotional support for the boys 
• Tiggy was nearly fired after she allowed the Princes to abseil down a 50-metre dam without safety lines or helmets. They were unharmed and protested so strongly at the prospect of losing her as a nanny that she was allowed to stay

 

Tiggy



Olga Powell 
Looked after William and Harry, 1982 - 1997


• She was 52 and recently widowed when she started looking after Charles' eldest son when he was just six months old as deputy nanny to Barbara Barnes
• Described as loving but strict, she stayed with the royal family for 15 years
• She brought the Princes up to have impeccable manners and show respect to their elders, ensuring they bowed to the Queen and Queen Mother
• The lasting bond between Olga and the Duke of Cambridge was evident when he cancelled an event to attend her funeral in October 2012

 

Olga Powell



Barbara Barnes 
Cared for Prince William, 1982 - 1987


• Head nanny before Olga Powell took over
• Affectionately know as 'Baba'
• Barbara’s childcare was seen as 'progressive' and was reportedly blamed for her charge's unruliness in the time before her departure
• She was reportedly sacked by Diana when William was four because she was envious of the strong bond between Barbara and her son

 

Barbara Barnes


Helen Lightbody
Nanny to Prince Charles and Princess Anne, 1948 - 1956


• The daughter of an Edinburgh textile worker
• She had a strict attitude and was known as 'No-nonsense Lightbody'
• Press reports from the time said the Queen disapproved of Helen for being too strict with her children
• Charles was fond of Helen and continued to visit her in Scotland after she left

 

Helen Lightbody



Mabel Anderson
Nanny to Charles and his siblings, 1950s


• The daughter of an Essex policeman
• Charles was reportedly so fond of Mabel that he requested she return to royal service when William was born, but Barbara Barnes was appointed instead
• Charles described Mabel as 'warm, loving, sympathetic and caring' in his biography
The Queen was not present for Charles' first three birthdays due to overseas engagements, so it's not surprising that the Prince was so fond of Mabel, or 'Mipsy' as he affectionately called her

 

Mabel Anderson



Marion Crawford
Governess to Princess Elizabeth and her sister Margaret, 1931 - 1948


• Role included private tutoring and being a companion to the girls
• She was studying to be a child psychologist when she took on the role
• She did not retire until Princess Elizabeth was 21
• Marion published a book called The Little Princesses on her time caring for the royals

 

Marion Crawford


Clara Knight
Helped bring up the Queen and her sister, 1920s 


• Known affectionately as Allah
• Clara was known for running a tight ship and made sure a strict daily routine was followed
• She was flanked by a team of nursemaids, under-nurses and chambermaids to offer the best possible care
• One of her assistants was Marion Crawford, who later became the girls' governess

 

Clara Elizabeth



 

Married to the job

  • The position was a lonely one; considered neither ‘upstairs’ nor downstairs, nannies found it hard to mix with other palace staff
  • Majority were single as they devoted their entire life to bringing up the young royals
  • Despite being unmarried, they were always addressed as Mrs as a mark of respect
  • Although it was a great privilege to help raise the heirs to the throne, nannies were not paid well and lived in small apartments attached to the children's playroom

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