Real Nannies of the Sacred Code


King Tut’s nanny might have been his sister, which means she was a princess.

Being a former professionally trained nanny, I get a little annoyed when babysitters are called nannies or nannies are poorly portrayed in fiction.  Also, the heroine of A Vintage Heart in Hollywood is a Nanny of the Sacred Code.  “A secret society that hoards nannies, who knew?” – the hero


The United States was young and naïve about nannies up until the 1980s, I’d say.  The rich and famous had always employed them, of course, but it seemed the rest of America thought childcare solely the mother’s job.  Besides, all babies did was eat, poop, and cry.  Then, a lot of mothers started working outside the home and dads were expected to do their share.  A lot of eyes were opened to how hard caring for children is and why professional help is often needed.

Nannies were often highly esteemed elsewhere around the world and throughout history.


Charlotte de La Motte Houdancourt, a duchess, looked after the future King Louis XV of France and is credited with saving his life during a Measles epidemic.

King Josiah in the Bible was saved by his nanny when the usurper had all the other royal princes murdered.

Pharaoh Tutankhamen so loved his nanny that he built a glorious tomb for her.

THE TUDORS - Season 4
Natalie Dormer as Anne Boleyn, Joss Stone as Anne of Cleves, Joely Richardson as Catherine Parr, Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Henry VIII, Tamzin Merchant as Katherine Howard, Annabelle Wallis as Jane Seymour, and Maria Doyle Kennedy as Queen Katherine (Season 4-keyart) – Photo: Courtesy of Showtime/Showtime – Photo ID: tudors_gal4_kal_horizontal_b

The future Queen Mary lost her nanny, Lady Bryan, to the future Queen Elizabeth I who lost her to the future King Edward VI.  Oh, those dramatic Tudors.  Guess it was lucky the nanny was the only thing they lost.

The Tudors:

At the height of the Victorian Era, an English lady, Emily Ward, worried that the standard of childcare was suffering and nannies were being mistaken for housemaids.  She founded the oldest nanny school in the world, The Norland College, in 1892.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge employ a Norland nanny to look after Prince George and Princess Charlotte.   The nanny is the one in the tan uniform wearing the brown hat, standing next to Queen Elizabeth II who is wearing pink.


Likewise, Sheilagh Roth, the director of my alma mater, the English Nanny & Governess School, founded that school in 1984.


Celebrities are often accused of not talking about their nannies because they don’t appreciate them and they want the rest of us to believe they do all the work themselves.  Not true.  It’s a matter of family security.  Keeping nannies out of the spotlight keeps  the children out of the crosshairs of those who would harm them.

To get an idea of what it’s like to be a Real Nanny of the Sacred Code, check out these guidelines from the Norland College for their students-

Check out The Unnatural History of the Nanny by Jonathan Gathorne-Hardy.  Good luck finding a copy.  I found mine decades ago on eBay.  britishnanny