07/12/2013 02:56 pm ET Updated Sep 11, 2013

Raising a Royal Child


The royal baby is due imminently, and bookies are taking last-minute bets on what the child will be called. Favorite for a girl at the moment seems to be Elizabeth, closely followed by Diana, Frances, Louise or Victoria. The boys names being bandied about are John, Charles, Henry and George. (This calls to mind Prince William's own naming: A week after his birth, Buckingham Palace announced his name to be William Arthur Philip Louis -- with "William" never to be abbreviated, the Palace specified, to "Will," "Willie" or "Bill." See how long that lasted?)

Names (and nicknames) aside, we'll not know the gender of the baby until it's born. But we can hazard a reasonably safe guess that this baby will be the most normally brought up heir to the throne in history. William and his brother Harry had fairly normal childhoods compared to most royal upbringings. Their mother, Diana, saw to that. They mixed with ordinary children and they went to normal schools, where they were treated like all the other boys. They went to the local cinema, they hurtled down scary rides at theme parks and they ate burgers at McDonald's. Prince Charles had done nothing of the sort himself as a child, and, although he went to normal schools (he was actually the first royal heir not to be tutored by governesses), he never had such freedom. Meanwhile, William and Harry played at other boys' houses and went on holidays with other boys' families. What obviously set them apart was the constant presence of police protection officers, but even they felt more like elder brothers to the boys than policemen.

Yet, for all the informality, they did adhere to royal tradition in that they were largely raised by nannies. They lived their lives in the nursery -- which comprised the top floor at both their London house, in Kensington Palace, and at Highgrove in the country. They spent the majority of their time with nannies. It was his nanny's bed that William would clamber into for a cuddle in the morning as a small child (although he often went to his mother's bed for a second cuddle), and it was with his nannies and police protection officers that he ate his meals.

Kate's formative years, on the other hand, were very different. She is the daughter of ordinary, hardworking middle-class parents who brought up their children like millions of others up and down the UK. In fact, that very normality is what William first fell in love with. A friend of his once said to me, "If you want to understand William, his relationship with the Middletons is the beginning and end of it. He likes them, they're happy and they're nice, straightforward people."

It is my guess that their baby will enjoy the sort of upbringing that Kate enjoyed. One that is secure, uncomplicated and loving -- and with minimal sense of entitlement. Very much the legacy of his mother -- and certainly an upbringing that will result in a great future King or Queen.

Penny Junor is the author of Prince William: The Man Who Will be King.