An Inside Look at Norland College, the Mary Poppins-esque University That Trains Royal Nannies
Meghan and Harry's future nanny will probably be a graduate.
The near-universal fascination with the British monarchy has led many of us to devour every bit of information that’s released about the royal family: their pregnancies, their traffic accidents, their former lifestyle blogs.
Even with a laser focus on all things royals, it's easy to miss a pretty big part of the story: the hundreds of people in the background, like the butlers, chauffeurs, housekeepers, and — perhaps most crucially — the royal nannies. The history of those who care for the heirs to the throne is almost as interesting as the family itself. They’re the most well-regarded nannies in England, and most of them train at one very Mary Poppins-esque school: Norland College in Bath.
Founded in 1892, Norland College trains hundreds nannies per year to take on some of the most highly sought-after professional childcare positions in the country. Boasting a motto of “steeped in history, but focused on the future,” Norland’s website makes it clear that the latter rather than the former is what they want people to know about the school. While the site briefly touches on the founding of the school and its iconic glove-and-hat uniforms, the curriculum of the college is front and center. Norland offers a three-year, $19,600-per-year program that can’t be found anywhere else.
A Norland degree couples things like early-education training “informed by cutting-edge research” with sewing classes and a nutrition and cooking course; there’s even an official Norland recipe book, which sadly isn't available to the public. There are Norland classes specifically focused on early brain development, teaching students how to drive a car in dangerous conditions, and defending themselves — and the children they’re watching — against an attacker. In a nutshell, Norland wants to make sure its nannies are prepared for anything — all while wearing a uniform that looks straight out of Downton Abbey.
Prince George’s nanny, Maria Teresa Turrion Borrallo, is a graduate of Norland and has been working for the royal family since 2014. Charles Rae, a veteran royal correspondent and expert, tells InStyle that though both Prince William and Kate are fairly hands-on parents, Borrallo has a great deal of responsibility. You may have spotted her assisting at Princess Eugenie or Harry and Meghan’s weddings.
“[Borallo] lives with them and has become a key part of their family,” Rae says. “All royal nannies live [with the families]. Their role, which was so tightly defined ... is now folded into a whole range of ... duties that in earlier years would have been undertaken by a raft of royal servants, included housemaids, cooks, butlers, and even chauffeurs.”
Clearly, Norland is keeping up with what it takes to be a royal nanny in 2019. And with Norland graduates working for Prince William and Kate, as well as other members of the royal family (a Norland alumna is said to have worked for Princess Anne as well, according to Town & Country), speculation that Prince Harry and Meghan’s future child will also have a Norland nanny is already in place.
“It is expected that they will eventually hire a full-time nanny,” Rae says of Harry and Meghan, though he notes that the couple is initially expected to lean on Meghan’s mom, Doria Ragland, to help with childcare. “I believe they will look at the success William and Kate have had for their children and may well [choose] a Norland Nanny.”
While Meghan and Harry certainly may end up opting for a Norland graduate, this doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll choose a female nanny. In fact, there have been rumors that the couple are interested in a male nanny for a more “modern” approach to parenting, according to a report from Express. Luckily, Norland seems to share the same interest in modernizing childcare. The college had its very first male nanny graduates in 2018 — a fact that the college seems proud of, and advertises much more often than its connection to the royal family.
While having its graduates work for people like the Windsors is no doubt an attractive selling point for Norland College, royal nannies aren’t mentioned on the website. Despite its discretion, the college at least seems to be very aware that with the royal connection comes a great deal of media attention — it would appear that media training is a part of the curriculum, too.
The students are likely aware of the star power that being a Norland Nanny can bring. There’s even a #NorlandNanny hashtag on Instagram that alumna use. However, the nannies themselves are hesitant to talk about their time at Norland, responding to interview requests with varying versions of the same answer that redirects press inquiries to the official Norland media contact.
One such nanny wrote in an email, “I am aware of the interest surrounding Norland College from people wanting to uncover information about the College. Please be aware that I am not allowed to sell or give course materials to anyone, under the years of the Norland Code of Professional Responsibilities. Therefore, if this is your intention and the exact nature of your enquiry cannot be shared in writing, then I decline to participate and politely request that you do not contact me again." The letter ends with an official Norland email address to reach out to, "if you would like to find out more about Norland college.”
The same nanny sent a subsequent message to say the above is the standard message Norland graduates are directed to send to anyone asking for any interview. One nanny who seemed interested in giving an interview noted that she had to ask for permission first, only to later say she wasn’t able to participate, per the college’s direction. Norland itself declined to give an interview due to a “high volume of media activity” surrounding the college.
It’s clear that Norland is protective of its curriculum, history, and students — and there's no doubt this is probably a large part of why a Norland Nanny seems so appealing to the royal family. Whether Meghan and Harry do indeed opt for a Norland Nanny remains to be seen, but if they do, one thing’s for sure: she (or he) won’t be giving any interviews, either.