Why Meghan and Harry are following in Princess Anne's footsteps

The Sussexes and Princess Anne broke with this tradition

Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan of Sussex and their baby son Archie Mountbatten-Windsor meet Archbishop Desmond Tutu and his daughter Thandeka Tutu-Gxashe at the Desmond & Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation during their royal tour of South Africa on September 25, 2019 in Cape Town, South Africa
(Image credit: Photo by Toby Melville/Pool/Samir Hussein/WireImage via Getty)

Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan seem to be following in Princess Anne’s footsteps when it comes to raising their young son Archie, breaking with royal tradition.

Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan welcomed their first child, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor, back in May 2019, to the delight of the Royal Family and royal fans alike. Whilst many speculated about the possible names or titles their son would hold, the couple went on to break with royal tradition, opting for Archie to have a surname that reflected both Prince Philip and the Queen. 

It’s unknown whether the Queen ever offered to award her great-grandson a title, but if she did, it seems to have been turned down. If this is indeed the case, this was not the first instance of this within the Royal Family. 

Princess Anne, the Duke of Sussex’s aunt, is understood to have turned down the offer of titles for her own children, Peter Phillips and Zara Tindall, when they were born. This was reportedly due to hopes for her children to live a more normal life. 

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What other royal tradition did Princess Anne break?

This wasn’t the only way that Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan’s child-rearing choices have followed in Princess Anne’s footsteps. Traditionally many royals, including the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, have employed a nanny trained at the prestigious Norland College. 

However, Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan decided against following this royal tradition and Princess Anne and her ex-husband Captain Mark Phillips did the same. 

In his book, Princess Anne, biographer Nicholas Courtney reportedly explained: “Like most of the ‘old guard’ nannies, the royal ones are used to moving around within the family and caring for the new generation.”

“The faithful ‘Alla’ (Clare Knight) who was nanny to the later Strathmore children and in particular Lady Elizabeth Bowes Lyon, the Queen Mother, was recalled from a sister when she in turn needed a nanny for her children," he continued.

“When Princess Anne needed a nanny for Peter, her former nanny, Mabel Anderson, was available.”

There were later reports, claiming that an argument took place between Princess Anne and her nanny, none of which have been confirmed. 

Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and Princess Anne, Princess Royal attend the wedding of Princess Eugenie of York and Mr. Jack Brooksbank at St. George's Chapel on October 12, 2018 in Windsor, England.

(Image credit: Photo by Owen Humphreys - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

“Whatever the truth of the story, she was replaced by a non-royal nanny, taking the Phillips children yet one step further outside the royal sphere of influence” Mr. Courtney added.

“Princess Anne is particularly keen to spare her children the glare of public attention.”

Do Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan have a nanny?

Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan are similarly keen to preserve Archie’s privacy. In their biography, Finding Freedom, authors Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand claimed that the Sussexes struggled with nannies for Archie after he was born and that “[a]fter a few weeks, they decided to take on nights themselves and went without a night nurse entirely.”

It’s been suggested that they eventually hired a nanny to work just weekdays, though it’s not known whether they have a nanny with them at their new home in California. 

Meanwhile, Princess Anne’s daughter Zara Tindall is currently pregnant with her third child. 

This new royal baby will be the tenth great-grandchild for the Queen.

Emma Shacklock
Emma Shacklock

Emma is a Senior Lifestyle Writer with five years experience working in digital publishing, ranging from book publishing to magazines. She currently looks after all things Lifestyle for Woman&Home, GoodToKnow and My Imperfect Life.

Before she joined Future Publishing, Emma graduated from the University of Warwick with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Comparative Literary Studies. After leaving education, she started out her publishing career in the world of books, working as a Publisher for an independent digital publisher specializing in back-list and debut commercial fiction novels. With a huge book list and a passion for bringing the best stories to the broadest audience possible, Emma filled her spare time with reading the latest best-sellers and catching up on hit adaptations.

In 2017 she joined TI Media as a fiction writing coordinator on Woman’s Weekly and Woman’s Weekly Fiction as part of the features team. From here, she used her love of books, working to bring short stories to our dedicated readers and began writing for the books pages of Woman, Woman’s Own and Woman&Home, as well as online features ranging from genre round-ups to travel pieces for womanandhome.com. 

After honing her skills, Emma branched out online in 2020 when Future gave her the opportunity to focus on digital-first. When she’s not writing about the next big lifestyle trend, she enjoys cooking, long walks and watching as many crime dramas as she can!