Motherhood

Royal motherhood is a job like no other: ‘DYNASTY: The Windsors’ podcast

Royal motherhood is a job like no other: 'DYNASTY: The Windsors' podcast

In just three years, Princess Diana has gone from being a young woman living alone for the first time to being the mother of an heir to the British throne. It was a difficult transition for Diana, whose marriage to Prince Charles had been rocky from the start. But in this week’s episode of DYNASTY: The Windsors, co-hosts Katie Nicholl and Erin Vanderhoof explore how motherhood was Diana’s anchor during the turbulent years of her life and how its influence shaped the two mothers who followed in her footsteps, Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle. Although Meghan and Kate have chosen drastically different paths, both mothers have changed Windsor traditions to make them more child-centred.

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According to the historian Caroline Harris, royal women have long been asked to see motherhood as a diplomatic role. In the early 20th century, royal babies were born at Buckingham Palace and a government official was often present at the birth. This happened when queen elizabeth gave birth to Charles in 1948. During the first years of her life, the Queen was often abroad with Prince Philip, and when she became Queen in 1952, she struggled to juggle the job of monarch British with her role as a mother. In this episode, Tina Brown-ancient vanity lounge editor and author of the new royal blockbuster Palace papers– explains that Charles had a lonely childhood when the queen was busy with work. “Work-life balance was not in the 1950s script for the Queen,” she says.

By the 1980s, labor and delivery had moved to the Lindo Wing of St. Mary’s Hospital, and media attention soon followed, leading to the iconic sequence of Diana presenting Prince William born in June 1982. As Diana adjusted to motherhood, she devoted herself to caring for William and his younger brother, Prince Harry, as normally as possible, and in the nearly 25 years since his death, the brothers have spoken of how essential his warmth was to their upbringing.

So when William and Kate had Prince George, they moved into the Middleton family home with Kate’s parents, Michael and Carol, to ensure that he spends his first days in a family environment. Tiffany Norris, author of Secrets of the Mummy Concierge, explains the appeal of Norland’s famous nannies and a few other ways royals can change parenthood to suit their needs. When Harry and Meghan had Archie Mountbatten-Windsor in 2019, they changed the scenario of the royal birth even more drastically – and it provoked a reaction from the press. How will their continental distance and different circumstances affect the next generation of royal children?

Listen to the episode in the player above and don’t forget to tune in next Tuesday, May 24, when DYNASTY: The Windsors returns with an episode about the Commonwealth and how the loss of Harry and Meghan affected the Royal Family’s global reputation. Subscribe to listen.vanityfair.com/dynasty or wherever you get your podcasts.