A lot of money, a lot of fame, a lot of pressure: A childhood in the British palace means privileges but also duties. A documentary shows, with some long-forgotten footage, how the upbringing style of the British royals has changed over time.

He was harassed, excluded – and punished for his tears: It is well known that Prince Charles suffered in his childhood. At the age of eight, his parents sent him to boarding school, where he struggled with homesickness and bullying. Affection? none. No wonder, since even the Queen was raised to believe that emotional coldness is good for children. The documentary “Young Windsors | Childhood in the British Royal Family” sheds light on how the parenting style of the royal family has evolved over the years. And impresses above all with video recordings, some of which were long forgotten.

For example, a young Prince Charles can be seen on stage as a theater actor. He forgets his text, blushes – and still makes the audience laugh. Other clips show the Queen as a young girl, being groomed from an early age for her role in British nobility. Royal experts also have their say. For example, Dickie Arbiter, the Queen’s former press secretary, says in the film: “Children should not be spoiled, there was no room for individuality.”

Diana changed education at the palace forever

The upbringing style of Prince William and Duchess Kate is very different today: with their three children George, Charlotte and Louis, they are very loving and devoted, and pay attention to family life together. However, they remain conservative about one thing: Their nanny was educated at the famous elite nanny school, Norland College.

In addition to classic pedagogical lessons there are also tips on how to prevent child abduction – including a training session with a karate master with a black belt. The students are therefore often called “ninja nannies”, although that does not quite correspond to reality, as the director of the college emphasizes in the documentary. On special occasions – such as Prince George’s christening – his nanny Maria Borrallo also wears the typical graduate uniform, based on Mary Poppins.

According to the documentary, Princess Diana paved the way for William and Kate’s comparatively relaxed upbringing style. After all, she was a qualified educator and loved children. Thanks to their mother, William and Harry occasionally experienced very normal moments during their childhood, such as trips to McDonald’s. However, in the palace, the warm, relaxed motherhood of Diana was met with incomprehension. “She was considered unpredictable,” recalls royal expert Tom Quinn in the documentary. Diana is said to have jokingly suggested that William and Harry be sent to a public school – which caused fear and terror in the palace. Old footage shows the Queen biting her tongue noticeably as the young princes laugh and climb atop a fire truck at an event. As a child, her motto was: keep your composure, just don’t move too much.

But even if the British royals spend a little more time with their offspring these days and are more relaxed – a childhood in the palace will never be completely normal.

“Young Windsors | Childhood in the British royal family” can be seen from Monday, May 23, 2022 in the ZDF media library and Monday, May 30, 2022 at 10:06 a.m. on ZDFInfo