8 Child-Rearing Tips For Will And Kate From Monarchs Of The Past

A look back at the childhoods of British monarchs offers some lessons for raising the royal baby-to-be: For instance, teasing is a bad idea, but tadpoles on toast are fine.

1. Make sure the royal child learns at least five foreign languages by age eleven.

Queen Elizabeth I reportedly knew French, Greek, Latin, Spanish, and Welsh (in addition to English) by that age, thanks to her tutor Roger Ascham. The new royal child will need to know at least that many languages in order to read the Pope’s Twitter.

2. Invest in media training.

Queen Elizabeth II took to the radio airwaves in 1940, when she was just 14, to speak to children evacuated during World War II. Any royal offspring will probably need to make public appearances from a pretty young age — though radio skills may be less important than Facebook. The Prince and Princess should start looking for a social media consultant who’s good with kids.

3. Foster healthy self-esteem.

Young Henry VIII’s father favored his older brother Arthur, the rightful heir, ignoring Henry. As a result, Henry never got along with his father, and when he eventually became king, had his father’s servants killed. Obviously this was just the beginning of his thing for beheading. Execution is typically frowned upon at court today, but it’s still wise to raise the royal child with a healthy self-image lest he or she write a nasty tell-all later on.

4. Choose a contemporary alternative to the “whipping boy.”

Since royal children couldn’t be beaten, Henry VIII and other young royals had “whipping boys” to take their punishments for them. Since corporal punishment is frowned upon these days, the royal family should probably choose a commoner child to be asked to think carefully about what he or she has done, and possibly be issued time-outs, when the royal offspring misbehaves.

5. Give the kid some alone time.

Queen Victoria’s mother and her father’s main attendant, Sir John Conroy, tried to keep her dependent on them by forbidding her to ever be alone during her childhood. This backfired — when she turned 18, she dismissed Conroy and sent her mother to live in a far-off part of Buckingham Palace. So constant companionship may not be the best way to influence a young royal. Also, he or she will likely be followed around by paparazzi soon enough, so providing a little solitude early on is the least the royal family can do.

6. Excessive strictness could backfire.

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert raised their son, future King Edward VII, extremely strictly, never letting him play with other boys his age. Later, he became a libertine, gambling and consorting with prostitutes. Victoria even blamed Prince Albert’s death on Edward’s first visit to a prostitute — she thought the shock of his son’s behavior made him fatally ill. To avoid such pitfalls, Kate and William should let their kid run around like the common folk once in a while so he or she will feel less need to rebel.

7. No teasing.

When he was young, King George VI (of The King’s Speech fame) was mercilessly teased by his brother over his stammer. Their father wasn’t much nicer. This may have led to a rift between George and the rest of the family. To avoid such strife, the prince and princess should keep teasing to a minimum. Also probably to be avoided: Forcing the kid to write with his or her nondominant hand. George was left-handed but forced to use his right, which couldn’t have helped his confidence.

8. Encourage youthful exuberance.

Carl Court, Pool / AP

George VI’s childhood wasn’t devoid of fun, though. He and his brother apparently pranked their French tutor by serving him a dish of tadpoles on toast — which his mother, Queen Mary, thought was hilarious. So if the royal child tries to, say, put a frog in one of the Queen’s hats, Will and Kate shouldn’t be too mad — the excitement might be good for her.

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