Exclusive: Why Princess Kate is such a 'wonderful' parent
Supernanny Jo Frost decodes the Princess of Wales' 'firm but fair' parenting style
It's the Princess of Wales' 42nd birthday tomorrow, so who better to focus our newsletter on than Kate herself?
As the future Queen and wife of Prince William, Princess Kate is one of the most senior and visible members of the royal family, whose every move is well-documented in the British press. But behind closed doors she carries out, arguably, her most important role: that of being a mother to Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis.
I recently came across a quote that did make me pause for thought. "You are 100% replaceable at WORK. You're NOT replaceable at HOME. Work hard, but be FULLY PRESENT when you're home." Admittedly, Princess Kate is not really 100 per cent "replaceable" in the workplace… but I have a funny feeling that when she's at home, she is 100 per cent present with her children.
We all know how dedicated and passionate she is about the Early Years, the under-fives age group, but I wanted to learn more about Kate's parenting style and what makes her such a model mum. I caught up with global parenting expert, Jo Frost, of Supernanny fame, for a very insightful chat. Jo has been in the parental arena for 37 years, 20 of which she's starred on TV with her shows like Family Matters and Family S.O.S. with Jo Frost. She's also written six parenting books.
I must caveat that Jo hasn't personally met Kate nor has she worked as a royal nanny (although she did meet Princess Diana on a number of occasions), but with her decades-long expertise and from watching the Wales family over the years, she can instantly unpack Kate's parenting style.
The three Fs
"I would say that Catherine is firm, but fair and fun. What I call the three Fs. And I really do believe that's probably part of her personality as well," Jo told me. "She seems like a lot of fun, she likes to joke around, and I'm sure that tickles the children a lot.
"My work, the Frost Methodology, is being assertive, intuitive, and child-centred in raising your children. These are all principles and morals I've been teaching publicly for over 20 years, and I'm proud to say Catherine shows those qualities."
Respecting her children
"From the get-go, we've always seen Catherine come down to children's levels. And it is very clear when I teach families the importance of being able to come down to a child's level so that you can relate to the child. It makes them feel like they're equal in terms of respecting each other.
"And that is one thing that we see Catherine do, show a lot of respect and love to her children. And that's the way it should be. We've seen that on the tarmac of an airport when the children have had a little bit too much or they've been a little bit strong-willed. She shows that very openly in public and [I am sure] she's following that through at home."
Jo was referring to this moment in 2017 when Princess Charlotte, aged two, was having what Jo would call an "emotional meltdown" (what I would call a "tantrum" for my toddler) and Kate defused the situation by crouching down to comfort her daughter.
Watch: Kate placates distraught Charlotte
Princess Charlotte keeps her brothers in check
Speaking of Kate's daughter, it seems Charlotte is always the one keeping her brothers in check. "Charlotte knows the rules. She's the one in the middle. She knows how to keep everyone in good stead. There are moments when I've watched George and he's looked over at his sister, and he's probably annoyed with her one minute and then grateful that she's there being able to remind him of things."
One such time was when Charlotte, eight, sternly said "arms down" to her big brother as they stood alongside the late Queen Elizabeth II on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, during the 2022 Platinum Jubilee celebrations.
You can watch the moment below:
Watch: Charlotte chides George
As they've grown older, George and Charlotte, in particular, seem impeccably behaved in public. "Catherine, and William, are raising their children with an understanding of royal procedures and protocols. They're raised to understand, there's a time and a place. It's relatable to any family, for example, there's a wedding coming up and we know that it would be good manners to be quiet while the choir is singing and the service is happening.
"That, to me, is just responsible parenting, and we see that with the Wales family. They have a lovely balance because I'm sure behind closed doors no doubt the children are playing games, baking cookies, and teasing and winding each other up as siblings do."
Prince Louis' 'big feelings'
And what about little Louis? The five-year-old Prince often gets a bad rep for being a "handful", but it sounds like Kate has a trick up her sleeve to help him regulate his emotions: she's previously said they use a "feelings wheel" at school.
"Catherine is leading the way in emotional intelligence. She's creating this beautiful environment for the children to thrive in. I believe Louis is a very highly sensitive person, he has big feelings. But Catherine is doing her job diligently in helping her children to become aware of their emotions and teaching them how to regulate them.
"And how wonderful that she mentioned Louis specifically. The royals are very deliberate with what they say and the language that they use, so to specifically pinpoint Louis to the feelings wheel is a very intuitive understanding that, when you have a sensitive child, this is something you can do to help them. She might make other parents think, 'Oh I must look into that.'"
Heir and no spares in the Wales family
Delving deeper into the dynamic of the sibling relationship, Jo argued: "I think William and Catherine understand the importance of nurturing the sibling relationships between the three of them. Dare I say it, in their family it would never be the 'heir and spare'. It would be about the importance of all of them.
"Catherine shows a lot of leadership skills, and leadership skills in parenting are important"
"The understanding that it really takes a team, with the important roles in upholding the crown and the monarchy. And so, we're seeing these very early seeds now, with respect to what it means to support each other and to nurture together."
Princess Kate the visionary
"I do believe she's a visionary and I do believe that she's quite intuitive herself," said Jo. "She shows a lot of leadership skills, and leadership skills in parenting are important because you have to create a healthy space for children to grow.
"Catherine's had the beautiful opportunity to work with many experts in the Early Years sphere through her Centre of Early Childhood. She's informed by many experts and that continues to allow her to move forward with confidence. She shares her vulnerability openly, by asking questions, and parents around the world can relate to that."
Much has been said about how Kate's "normal" upbringing inspires her own parenting style, while also drawing comparisons to how Princess Diana wanted to give William and Harry a "normal" childhood. But Jo is keen for Kate and William to be acclaimed as great parents independently of their formative influences.
"Obviously William and Catherine have been influenced by their own upbringing, but I think we have to get to a point where we give them their kudos, their props, and their flowers. We have to applaud the wonderful parents they are and the decisions they make together."
"I'm sure they have, like any other couple, things that one probably does better than the other. I'm sure behind closed doors, it's like, 'Catherine, you do that, you've got more patience than me!' But they do show a united front. Not just show, you can feel it too."
Liked this newsletter? Leave your comments below.
Don't miss Emily Nash every Wednesday
Emily's newsletters are exclusively for our paid subscribers, so if you are currently a free subscriber, we would be honoured if you considered upgrading to paid where you will join thousands of likeminded royal fans in our ever-growing community. Her last newsletter identified four major royal trends to look out for in 2024.