As the 20th anniversary of his mother’s death approaches, Prince William can’t help but envision how Princess Diana would have taken to becoming Granny. The way he sees it, the royal explained in the July 24 HBO and ITV documentary Diana, Our Mother: Her Life and Legacy, the people’s princess would “be a nightmare grandmother.” While the onetime nursery school teacher would have loved Prince George, 4, and Princess Charlotte, 2, “to bits,” said William, “she’d come in probably at bath time, cause an amazing . . . scene, bubbles everywhere, bathwater all over the place, and then leave.”
Clearly her parenting style made a big splash. Princess Diana famously let her young princes wear jeans and baseball caps and make trips to McDonald’s for burgers. Now the 35-year-old and his wife, Duchess Kate, 35, are striving to follow her lead, sources reveal in the new issue of Us Weekly.
A Middleton family insider says the duo “are keen” to give the future monarchs — George and Charlotte are third and fourth in line for the British throne, respectively — a life outside the palace’s gilded walls. “While they feel it’s important to make them aware of their backgrounds,” says the insider, “it’s also vital for both George and Charlotte to have as much normalcy in their lives as possible.”
That means George, who a source says “loves anything on wheels,” gets to spend hours riding bikes while Charlotte plays Disney princesses happily unaware that she holds that title herself. And the future rulers aren’t exempt from the house rules.
Among William and Kate’s royal edicts: Thou shalt have an unplugged childhood. A source close to the couple reveals they’ve banned iPads at home. “They’re very much seen as Mummy and Daddy’s toys, not for children,” says the source. “As two people who grew up without gadgets for entertainment themselves, William and Kate are firm believers in toys, outdoor play and encouraging an active imagination.” Adds a palace insider, “They’re very much a normal family.”
At just 4 years old, George already enjoys long talks with Dad. The tyke — who started attending Norfolk’s Westacre Montessori School last winter — “is at an age where he’s starting to realize that the world he lives in is different to his friends,” says a source.
So when he and William strap on helmets and ride bikes around their 10-bedroom Georgian mansion in the sleepy Norfolk village of Anmer (a source says George peddles without training wheels!) George peppers him with inquiries. He’s full of questions and curiosity about everything around him,” explains the source. “He’s growing up to be a very confident young boy.”
And a bright one, too. William recently confided to a pal that their conversations “are surprisingly deep,” says the source. “William says his view of the world is absolutely fascinating.” And the former East Anglian Air Ambulance pilot gets an earful of Georges’s opinions often. Notes the source, “George is very close to his father.”
That gives Charlotte more time with Mum. The tot, due to start preschool in 2018, is so close to Kate that those close to the duchess joke “that Mummy definitely has a shadow,” says the Middleton family insider. “Wherever Kate goes, so does Charlotte.”
That means she logs a lot of hours inside the 18th-century spread’s recently renovated kitchen. “Whenever the housekeeper or Kate are preparing food, Charlotte needs her own toy set by her side to imitate,” explains the family insider. Among her favorite options: sets of wooden toys from U.K. shop JoJo Maman Bébé and anything Disney princess; though, says the family friend, “I don’t think it’s quite dawned on her that she’s a princess herself.”
For more on the tiny heirs — and if William and Kate are planning to add a third to their brood — pick up the new issue of Us Weekly, on stands now! And for more about the late Princess Di, tune in to Princess Diana: Tragedy or Treason on TLC Monday, July 31 at 8 p.m. EST.
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