One of the fundamental differences between the royals and the rest of us is the Nanny.
While most people are – for better or worse – raised by their parents, young royals spend most of their days with paid domestic staff.
These nannies can become very close to their charges, often ending up almost “family.”
Royal expert Bryan Kozlowski tells the tale of the special pudding in his upcoming book Long Live the Queen! 13 Rules for Living from Britain’s Longest Reigning Monarch.
Edinburgh-born nanny Helen Lightbody ran the royal nursery for eight years from 1948, when Charles was a month old, until she abruptly left in 1956.
She was reportedly warned more than once about being too stern with Charles and his younger sister, Anne.
Nanny Lightbody was by all accounts a difficult customer. She came to be known in the press as “No-Nonsense Lightbody.”
Kozlowski writes: “It’s said she took pleasure in tormenting the Palace kitchen with her exacting standards.
“Dishes for young Charles were constantly being refused or remade based on little more than Nanny Lightbody’s personal whims.”
And when one of Nanny Lightbody’s whims clashed with a command from Her Majesty, she had to go.
“In 1956, the Queen sent the nursery a simple request that Charles, then eight years old, be given a special pudding she thought he might like,” Kozlowski writes. “Nanny Lightbody refused, crossed the dessert from the menu, and incurred the Crown’s wrath. Nobody crosses out the Queen’s request.
“The Queen eventually had enough and fired her.”
It wasn’t a complete break. After she returned home to Scotland she continued to receive a generous pension from the Royal household for the rest of her days.
Charles continued to visit ex-Nanny Lightbody after she had left the palace, and in 1969 he invited her to both his 21st birthday party and his investiture as Prince of Wales.
Long Live the Queen: 23 Rules for Living from Britain’s Longest-Reigning Monarch is published in paperback on November 10