Now the Cambridge nursery numbers three, the royal couple’s Norland super nanny will be more vital than ever
If Wills and Kate have circles under their eyes for the next few weeks, so too will their nanny. Norland College-trained Maria Teresa Turrion Borrallo, 47, is responsible for ensuring family life runs as smoothly as possible in Apartment 1A at Kensington Palace, especially since the arrival of HRH Prince Louis Arthur Charles means the Cambridge brood now numbers three.
This is no mean feat given Princess Charlotte, two, needs fetching from nursery; Prince George, four, has homework; and Wills and Kate are in a sleep deprived fog.
“Norlanders don’t just consider the children, they consider the father and mother, too,” explains TV super nanny and author of parenting books, Kathryn Mewes, another alumna of the elite training college in Bath, which was founded in 1892 and provides nannies to royals, oligarchs and the super rich (not for nothing are they trained in anti-terrorism).
“They are aware of the sensitivities of breastfeeding and sleeplessness, and they allow the mum to focus on the newborn,” says Mewes.
At this early stage it is George and Charlotte who will be Borrallo’s priority. It is only natural they might feel put out that a new baby is dominating their mother’s affections, says Mewes, who after working for high-profile families for many years, now has two children of her own.
A Norlander will strive to make her charges aware that their mother has done something very clever, and urge them to work as a team.
“She will be encouraging them to make cards for the baby, and she’ll have got the dolls and prams out – not because Charlotte is a girl but because at her age she will naturally imitate [Kate] and this can help with any jealousy,” Mewes says.
While little Louis will be very much the Duchess’s domain right now, before his arrival Borrallo would have helped Kate to prepare his nursery and will be documenting daily milestones.
“She will keep a beautiful journal storing his first lock of hair and photographs,” Mewes says. “I bet she’s already painted his hand and foot and pressed it on to one of the pages.” The Norland journal is something parents treasure – it’s a way of following their child’s day-to-day development.
It can’t be easy, though, dealing with the emotions of a new baby, two confused toddlers and a postnatal mother. How will Borrallo cope?
According to Mewes, Norlanders are trained to be sensitive to a mother’s feelings. Borrallo will understand that Kate might feel left out as she watches her two older children leaving the house with their nanny.
“She’ll reassure her that she doesn’t need to feel guilty; that now she has three she can’t give them all what she once gave to George,” she says. “And she’ll be ready to take charge of the baby when Kate wants to spend quality time with the others.”
Unlike many high-profile families with multiple children, the Cambridges have opted to stick with just one nanny. When Kate returns to official duties – she took one month off after having Prince George and four after Charlotte – Borrallo will assume charge of all three, which she will do standing on her head, says Mewes.
If any of the children give her grief she will be ready for it. “Charlotte might find it hard to find her place, as she’s neither the grown-up one, nor the cute baby,” she says, adding that Borrallo will see discipline as an intrinsic part of her job – and she will strive to ensure Louis is not spoilt.
Many of the toys, trains and books he has already been given will thus be kept back and rotated in the playroom, one at a time. “It’s OK to indulge your child but once they start expecting to be indulged you have to make a shift,” she says.
Behind closed doors one can only imagine the young Cambridges have their brattish moments, just like any other children. Even the Queen bit her nails as a little girl and wasn’t above giving her younger sister Princess Margaret a left hook.
But in public they are, for the most part, immaculately behaved – which won’t be because Borrallo is a tyrant, Mewes insists, but because the children respect her implicitly.
“We were taught that you will always gain a child’s love, that will happen naturally, but within the first few weeks you have to gain their respect,” she says. “It doesn’t matter if they’re standing in a queue at a shop or in front of a hundred cameras, in the presence of their Norland nanny they are to do as they are asked.”
Borrallo will encourage Louis to listen to her early on. When the time comes for him to make public appearances, she will talk him through procedures and tell him what to expect – the key to ensuring children behave well on ceremony.
At bedtime she’ll tell him what he’ll be doing the next day; and at what times he will likely see his parents. She will also do dummy runs before high-profile occasions and try on their outfits to make sure they’re not scratchy – and if they’re not up to a particular outing, she will inform their parents. “As a Norlander, you are an advocate of the children; you’re their voice,” adds Mewes.
Borrallo will not be expected to don her brown Norland uniform while pushing Louis’s pram through Kensington Gardens, but she will wear it to his christening. This is for visibility, Mewes explains: in a crowded environment the uniform makes it easier to pinpoint who is in charge of the children.
While it is certainly not the most fetching of outfits, she will wear it with pride – particularly the badge, which would be taken away by the college if she ever breached her contract with the Royal family.
“This is the same for any Norland nanny who is caught revealing information about their employers,” Mewes confirms.
When the Queen’s former nanny, Marion Crawford, published an account of her 16 years at the heart of the Royal family, she was frozen out immediately – not one of them ever spoke to “Crawfie” again, even though the contents of her book were relatively warm and innocuous.
“I don’t care how lovely it is, it is unacceptable,” Mewes says firmly. “If the Queen agreed to that kind of book where would it stop? I’m sure she was used as an example to ensure no one else did it.”
A more real worry for Kate, however, is that Borrallo will leave. The thought of navigating daily life without her would likely be unthinkable. Most are lucky if their nanny stays for five or six years but Mewes suspects that Borrallo could remain with the Cambridges at least until Louis starts secondary school.
“The children will be her life and she will be happy with that,” Mewes says. “That is the badge we wear as Norland nannies.”