What was it like to grow up in royal household?

It’s important the parade continues – but safely

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Am I the only one who is getting ever so slightly sick of seeing the Union Jack plastered over crockery and tea towels every time I do my weekly shop?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m proud to be British and am as grateful as the next person for this four-day weekend but between the Olympic Games and the Diamond Jubilee I’ve been subjected to more British paraphernalia these last few months than in my whole 32 years.

And who are the people buying these products anyway, come on own up? I can see you there sheepishly hiding that Queen-shaped mug behind your back.

Sixty years ago when our Elizabeth became Queen, Prince Charles was four and not far off my own son’s age, which made me wonder what kind of parents old Liz and Phil were and what it must be like to grow up in a royal household.

It’s hard to imagine what their lives were like. Did ma come down to breakfast in her crown, or did the royal kids ever find her grumpy first thing after one too many glasses of Pinot the night before?

I can’t see a young 25-year-old Queen lounging around the palace in PJ’s and slippers after a hard day ruling the country, nor can I picture her shouting in exasperation at a five-year-old Charles to get his shoes on for the 15th time.

You would think that her children must have thrown at least the odd wobbly tantrum that she struggled with – and they probably did, but then she had an entourage of supernannies to deal with these things for her.

Biographical accounts of the young prince are a sad read. Elizabeth had very little time to spend with her children while dealing with the responsibilities of the State. She didn’t see them for months on end, though there were times it seems when this was out of choice.

According to newspapers from the 1950’s, poor little Charles spent his fifth birthday without cake or a party and more notably without his parents, who were off having a quiet weekend in their country house.

The relationship the Queen had with her children was detached and young Charles was taught to bow to his mother in the morning. She rarely kissed him and Charles once said that he had no memory of affection from his mother after he started school. I’m not judging; she was a very busy lady.

I couldn’t even begin to imagine what it must be like to live in that sort of intensely high profile environment. It’s hard enough trying to juggle normal jobs with family life.

But these are the people who are at the forefront of our country and society, yet as parents even they get it wrong and quite dramatically at that – a fact that is somehow frightening and reassuring at the same time.

At least at those times when you feel guilty because you’ve not quite graduated from Super-Mum School you can console yourself with the knowledge that you are giving your children the love and hugs that they need and that, above all else, is the most important thing.