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The Nanny

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The princes' rock and defender

Mrs Powell, who died aged 82, was the princes’ nanny for 15 years, helping them get over both their parents’ divorce and the death of their mother, Diana, Princess of Wales. She began looking after the then Prince William when he was six months old.

Before attending the Duke and Duchess’s wedding last year, she said Princes William and Harry had been “like my grandsons” and she had done her best to help them have “as ordinary a childhood as they could”.

In turn, the princes treated her like a member of the family, and she attended the Duke’s confirmation at Eton in 2000 and his passing-out parade at Sandhurst in 2006.

She also wrote to Prince Harry shortly before his current deployment to Afghanistan, wishing him luck and admitting she feared for his safety.

The fact that Prince Harry is away in Afghanistan, and therefore unable to attend the funeral, is likely to have made his elder brother even more determined to attend Mrs Powell’s funeral in Harlow, Essex, to represent them both.

Mrs Powell, who had no children of her own, showed the princes one final act of loyalty by asking in her will for donations to be sent to Prince Harry’s charity, Sentebale, instead of flowers at her funeral.

Winston Churchill was about the same age as Prince William when his nanny entered his life.

Lady Randolph's choice of nanny for her son was probably the most important single decision that she made throughout his childhood. Woomany, as he called Mrs Everest, was to become the symbol of home to Winston, the rock upon which he could depend and a strong influence for the next twenty years. Lady Randolph employed a woman who possessed characteristics in complete contrast to her own. Perhaps it was in this difference that lay the success of her choice. In his mother Winston had all the glamour, excitement and unpredictability that anyone could ever want. In Mrs Everest he had a comfortable bosom to cry on, unconditional love and the security of dependability.

". . .My nurse was my confidante. Mrs Everest it was who looked after me and tended all my wants. It was to her I poured out all my many troubles." From Winston With Love and Kisses by Celia Sandys.

A book could be written about nannies and the love and strength and ethical compass, which they give their children. Winston Churchill survived his childhood because his nanny gave him the love his parents denied him.

How many neglected children today could use a good, wise, loving nanny! We know that's impossible, but researchers report that just one person who is consistently kind to a child can transform a child's outlook and life. . .


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