Monday, 7 August 2017

Should the Queen breastfeed? British Royals and their history of breastfeeding

Queen Victoria refused to breastfeed her children. Princess Diana, however, did not believe in the same.

Prince William and Kate Middleton seem to be setting major parenting goals for our generation, and for good reason. They're charming, fun-loving, and oh-so-royal! While we've known for quite a while that Kate breastfed her children, not much else is known about the other famous mothers of the British Royal family.

Do Queens and royals also breastfeed? Have they always done so? These are a few questions we are hoping to answer during the 25th World Breastfeeding Week.

Most history enthusiasts interested in European royal families would have heard the rumours that royal moms handed their kids over to wet nurses to be breastfed. This is simply not true. There were a few exceptions like Queen Victoria--yes, the famous queen who became the Empress of India after the Indian Rebellion of 1857--who had a fierce distaste for breastfeeding.

Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother is seen here with King George VI, in a photo taken in 1937. Photo: Reuters
Her own children, however, nursed their infants and completely disregarded their mother's advice. And so did the generations of royal mothers after that. Queen Mother Elizabeth (you might remember her as being portrayed by Helena Bonham Carter in The King's Speech), the wife of King George VI and mother to the present Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Margaret, also nursed her daughters back in the 1920s.

Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother (3L) with members of the British Royal Family pose for photographers outside her official residence, Clarence House. The Queen Mother was joined by her daughter Princess Margaret (L), her grandson Prince Charles (2L), her daughter Queen Elizabeth II (2R), her great grandson Prince Harry (R), and other members of the Royal Family for a birthday lunch. Photo: Reuters

According to The Guardian, Queen Elizabeth II followed the tradition with her four kids--Charles, Anne, Andrew and Edward. She was, however, unable to breastfeed Prince Charles after the first two months, because she contracted measles. Her sister Margaret, however, had the same distaste for breastfeeding that Queen Victoria did. She famously refused to nurse her children.

Queen Elizabeth II, with her sister, Princess Margaret. Photo: Reuters

And then came Princess Diana, who married Prince Charles in 1981. Famous for her humanitarian acts and modern thinking, Diana has been credited, quite inaccurately, as being the first royal mother to breastfeed her children, William and Harry. The late princess was quite the pathbreaker where parenting is concerned, but she was not the one to introduce breastfeeding into the family.

Princess Diana, with a young Prince Harry. Photo: Reuters
Diana did not give birth at a royal palace under the supervision of private doctors, but delivered both her children in the Lindo Wing of St Mary's Hospital in London. She then went on to wean the boys herself, and as they grew up, she took them along on her and Charles' international trips and tours (something that the British Royals did not do before).

Princess Diana and Prince Charles with their children, Princes William and Harry. Photo: Reuters
Kate Middleton, Diana's daughter-in-law and the Duchess of Cambridge, is famous for following in William's mother's footsteps. She gave birth to both Prince George and Princess Charlotte in the Lindo Wing of St Mary's Hospital. According to Mirror, Kate opted for breastfeeding instead of relying on formula milk in a bottle.

Prince William and Kate Middleton, with their children, Prince George and Princess Charlotte. Photo: Reuters
William and Kate have also continued with Diana's idea of taking the kids along on their royal tours, giving the kids the company of their parents and exposure to the larger world at a young age. This is the reason this royal couple is seen as an inspiration, much like Diana was.

Prince William and Kate Middleton are setting major parenting goals. Photo: Reuters
The public births of the British Royals since Prince William in 1982 has brought focus to the fact that no matter what happened in the past, the modern mothers of the British Royal family choose to breastfeed their children rather than depend on wet nurses or formula milk.

The British Royal family, together: (R-L) Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth II, Prince William, Prince Harry (behind), Prince George, Princess Charlotte, Kate Middleton, and Prince Charles.

This practice doesn't just deserve our applause, but should also inspire healthy mothers across the world to breastfeed their children for at least the first six months. After all, which child isn't a prince or princess in their mother's eyes?

(Source: India Today)

No comments:

Post a Comment