20 photos that show how motherhood has changed in the royal family

20 photos that show how motherhood has changed in the royal family
  • Queen Elizabeth's pregnancies weren't announced, but now royals announce them on social media.

  • Diana tried to give her kids normal childhoods with trips to Disney World and McDonald's.

  • Kate Middleton spoke out about the challenges of parenting during a pandemic.

Members of the royal family have taken different approaches to parenting and motherhood through the years.

While Queen Elizabeth II kept her pregnancies private, modern royals have shared more of their family's lives with the public on social media.

Photos show how royal maternity fashion has evolved, the varying ways royal births have been announced, and how royal mothers continue to navigate life in the spotlight.

Queen Elizabeth II's pregnancies weren't formally announced. Instead, the palace said she would "undertake no further public engagements."

Queen Elizabeth pregnant with Prince Charles in 1948.
Queen Elizabeth, four months pregnant with Prince Charles.David Levenson Collection/Getty Images

Royal protocol was different back then. The vague palace statements to outlets like The New York Times served as official confirmation that Queen Elizabeth was pregnant, even though it wasn't formally announced.

Queen Elizabeth gave birth to all of her children at home.

Queen Elizabeth with Princess Anne and Prince Charles as children
Princess Elizabeth with Princess Anne and Prince Charles.PA Images via Getty Images

Queen Elizabeth was 22 when she had her first child, now King Charles III.

In an authorized biography of Charles, author Jonathan Dimbleby wrote that the young prince was mostly raised by nannies and staff.

Queen Elizabeth watches Prince Charles drive a toy car at Balmoral Castle.
Queen Elizabeth with then-Prince Charles driving in a toy car on the grounds of Balmoral Castle.Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images

"Such an upbringing was by no means rare in those days (at least those households that could afford the appropriate staff)," Dimbleby wrote in "Prince of Wales: A Biography," Cornwall Live reported. "Although Prince Charles was not starved of parental affection, it was inevitably the nursery staff (interpreting the will of their employers) who taught him to play, who witnessed his first steps, who punished and rewarded him, who helped him put his first thoughts into words."

Queen Elizabeth still found quiet moments to spend with her children amid her busy schedule.

Queen Elizabeth with Prince Charles and Princess Anne at Balmoral Castle
Queen Elizabeth with Prince Charles and Princess Anne at Balmoral Castle.Lisa Sheridan/Studio Lisa/Getty Images

Queen Elizabeth often spent vacations at Balmoral Castle, the royal family's summer residence in the Scottish Highlands.

Princess Diana's pregnancies were announced more clearly, and she made plenty of public appearances.

Princess Diana pregnant before the birth of Prince William in 1982.
Princess Diana on her last official engagement before the birth of Prince William.David Levenson/Getty Images

''The Prince and Princess of Wales, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh and members of both families are delighted by the news," the palace's official announcement read when Diana was pregnant with Prince William in 1981.

"The Princess is in excellent health. The Princess hopes to continue to undertake some public engagements but regrets any disappointment which may be caused by any curtailment in her planned program.''

She broke from tradition and became the first royal to give birth in a hospital.

Prince Charles and Princess Diana outside the hospital shortly after the birth of Prince Harry.
Prince Charles and Princess Diana with a newborn Prince Harry.AP

Diana gave birth to Prince William and Prince Harry at the Lindo Wing at St Mary's Hospital in London.

Diana strived to give her children normal childhoods with trips to Disney World and McDonald's.

Princess Diana and Prince Harry ride Splash Mountain at Walt Disney World in 1993.
Princess Diana and Prince Harry ride Splash Mountain at Walt Disney World.Stringer/Reuters

In a 2017 HBO documentary called "Diana, Our Mother: Her Life and Legacy," Harry remembered his mother as "a total kid through and through."

"One of her mottos to me was 'You can be as naughty as you want, just don't get caught,'" he said.

After Diana's death, both Harry and William remained close with their grandmother.

Queen Elizabeth laughs with Prince Harry and Prince William
Queen Elizabeth with her grandsons, Prince William and Prince Harry.Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images

William told ABC News in 2012 that Queen Elizabeth was a "very good listener."

"If you ever have problems, she will listen, and she will try to help," he said. "But otherwise she lets you get on with things, and carve your own path. Your successes are your successes, and your failures are your failures. But she'll be there to help."

In his interview with Oprah Winfrey in 2021, Harry said that he remained close with Queen Elizabeth despite rifts with other royal family members, and spoke to her on Zoom regularly so she could chat with his son, Archie.

"I've spoken more to my grandmother in the last year than I have done for many, many years," he said. "My grandmother and I have a really good relationship and an understanding. And I have a deep respect for her. She's my colonel-in-chief, right? She always will be."

Kate Middleton continued carrying out royal engagements during her pregnancies, though she canceled appearances due to extreme morning sickness.

Prince William, Kate Middleton, Meghan Markle, and Prince Harry at an event. Kate Middleton is pregnant.
Prince William, Kate Middleton, Meghan Markle, and Prince Harry.PAUL GROVER/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Kate announced her first pregnancy earlier than other royals after she was admitted to hospital with hyperemesis gravidarum, or acute morning sickness, in 2012. Her subsequent pregnancies were also announced in tandem with canceling appearances due to hyperemesis gravidarum.

Kate also gave birth at the Lindo Wing at St Mary's Hospital, and she said greeting the public immediately afterwards was "slightly terrifying."

Kate Middleton waves to photographers after giving birth to Prince George. She holds Prince George in a blanket.
Kate Middleton waves to photographers after giving birth to Prince George.Chris Jackson/Getty Images

"Everyone had been so supportive, and both William and I were conscious that this was something that everyone was excited about, and we are hugely grateful for the support that the public has shown us, and actually for us to share that joy and appreciation with the public was equally important," Kate said on a 2020 episode of the podcast "Happy Mum, Happy Baby" hosted by Giovanna Fletcher. "But equally, it was coupled with a newborn baby and inexperienced parents and the uncertainty about what that held. So there were all sorts of mixed emotions."

She does regular mom things, like hand out snacks.

Kate Middleton, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis at a polo match
Kate Middleton with Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis at a polo match.Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

Kate gave out snacks to her brood at a charity polo match in 2019.

She also uses her platform to advocate for maternal mental health.

Kate Middleton at a support group for mothers
Kate Middleton meets with a parent support group.HEATHCLIFF O'MALLEY/AFP via Getty Images

Kate has participated in events marking Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week and hosted roundtable discussions on the subject at Kensington Palace. She's also a patron of several charities that provide mental health support for mothers and their children.

In a discussion about how parents were impacted by the pandemic, Kate shared that pandemic parenting was exhausting.

Kate Middleton holds Prince Louis and Princess Charlotte
Kate Middleton holds Prince Louis and Princess Charlotte at a performance for frontline workers.AARON CHOWN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

"I think as parents, you've the day-to-day elements of being a parent, but I suppose during lockdown we have had to take on additional roles that perhaps others in our communities, or in our lives, would have perhaps supported us and helped us with," Kate said in the conversation, which was posted on The Royal Family YouTube page in January 2021.

She continued: "I've become a hairdresser this lockdown, much to my children's horror, seeing mum cutting hair. We've had to become a teacher — and I think, personally, I feel pulled in so many different directions and you try your best with everything, but at the end of the day I do feel exhausted."

As her children have gotten older, Kate has helped them step into their royal roles.

Kate Middleton and Prince George in a carriage on coronation day
Kate Middleton and Prince George leave Westminster Abbey following the coronation ceremony of King Charles III and Queen Camilla.Toby Melville - WPA Pool/Getty Images

Prince George, 10, played an important role in his grandfather King Charles III's coronation on May 6, 2023. George — who is second in the royal line of succession — served as a page of honor for the king, carrying the train of his grandfather's coronation robe.

George's siblings, Princess Charlotte, 9, and Prince Louis, 6, also attended the coronation, though Louis took a break from the two-hour ceremony.

Kate is on a break from royal appearances while she receives treatment for cancer.

Kate Middleton is receiving treatment for cancer.
Kate Middleton is receiving treatment for cancer.BBC Studios

After weeks of speculation, Kate revealed in a video announcement in March that her medical team had discovered cancerous cells during the abdominal surgery she underwent in January.

Kate said she initially did not share her diagnosis with the public in order to give her time to speak with her children and let them know that she would "be OK."

"As I have said to them, I am well and getting stronger every day by focusing on the things that will help me heal: in my mind, body, and spirits," Kate said in the video.

As a working royal, Meghan Markle continued making public appearances while pregnant, and even went on a tour of Australia and New Zealand.

Meghan Markle, pregnant and wearing a peach-colored outfit, in 2019.
Meghan Markle.NIKLAS HALLEN/AFP/Getty Images

Meghan announced her first pregnancy on Kensington Palace's official Instagram account. She and Harry shared the news before their royal tour of Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, and Tonga in 2018.

Markle gave birth to Archie at Portland Hospital in Westminster, and Lilibet was born in California.

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry hold baby Archie
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry pose with their new son during a photocall inside Windsor Castle.Dominic Lipinski - WPA Pool/Getty Images

Unlike Kate, and Diana before her, Harry and Meghan decided to skip the hospital photo-op and instead waited two days after the birth of Archie to introduce their new baby to the world.

"Their Royal Highnesses have taken a personal decision to keep the plans around the arrival of their baby private," Buckingham Palace shared in a statement before Archie's birth. "The Duke and Duchess look forward to sharing the exciting news with everyone once they have had an opportunity to celebrate privately as a new family."

Meghan further explained the decision in the couple's Netflix docuseries, "Harry & Meghan," which premiered in December 2022.

"There was already the pressure of the picture on the steps," she said, continuing: "But I had been really worried going into that labor, because I'm older, I didn't know if I'd have to have a C-section, and I had a very long standing relationship with my doctor, and that's who I trusted with my pregnancy."

"The amount of abuse that we got, especially you," Harry said in the docuseries, indicating Meghan, "but both of us, for not wanting to serve our child up on a silver platter, was incredible."

Lilibet was born after Harry and Meghan had stepped back from their roles as working royals, so there was no public introduction.

Aside from a few occasional outings, Meghan and Harry kept Archie out of the spotlight as they went about their royal duties.

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry with their first child, Archie.
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry with their first child, Archie.Toby Melville/Getty Images

In a rare public appearance, Meghan and Harry brought Archie along to meet Archbishop Desmond Tutu on their royal tour of South Africa in 2019.

Meghan and Harry are now raising their family in Montecito, California, after stepping back from royal life.

A black and white screenshot of Meghan Markle with Archie on the beach in California
Meghan Markle and Archie on the beach in Montecito, California.CBS

Meghan and Harry's 2021 interview with Oprah Winfrey featured a black-and-white video of their son playing at the beach with his parents and their two dogs, Guy and Pula. Archie could be seen running around holding a stick while dressed in a button-down cardigan.

Episode three of the Netflix docuseries "Harry & Meghan" showed Archie, who has an American accent, walking around outdoors, checking out farm animals, and birdwatching with his father.

She has advocated for paid family leave in the US, and she wrote a bestselling children's book based on Harry and Archie's father-son bond.

Meghan Markle's picture book "The Bench."
Meghan Markle's book "The Bench."Leon Neal/Getty Images

In October 2021, Meghan wrote a letter to Congress advocating for paid family leave.

"I'm not an elected official, and I'm not a politician," she wrote. "I am, like many, an engaged citizen and a parent. And because you and your congressional colleagues have a role in shaping family outcomes for generations to come, that's why I'm writing to you at this deeply important time—as a mom—to advocate for paid leave."

In June 2021, Meghan published a picture book called "The Bench" inspired by Harry and Archie's close bond. It became a New York Times bestseller.

Read the original article on Business Insider