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In photos: The special role of Britain's Royal nannies

While William and Kate are likely to take a more hands-on parenting role than previous generations, it's almost certain that they will hire a nanny to help care for Britain's littlest heir. After all, nannies have been raising royals for hundreds of years. Often unmarried commoners, these women have fascinated the British public, who have been rewarded with juicy scandals -- from the nanny who was fired after she nixed Queen Elizabeth's dessert order for Prince Charles, to the one who let Prince Harry dangle over a dam without a helmet -- and miraculously escaped with her job.

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Margaret MacDonald, shown here with young Queen Elizabeth, became a lifelong servant and confidante to her royal charge. She served on Elizabeth’s staff for 67 years, first as nanny, then as dresser, looking after her clothes and jewels. Nicknamed Bobo, she featured in Elizabeth’s childhood essays, including one about her father's coronation in 1937. "I leapt out of bed and so did Bobo. We put on dressing gowns and shoes and Bobo made me put on an eiderdown as it was cold and we crouched in the window looking on to a cold, misty morning," the Princess wrote in a passage published in the New York Times. MacDonald died in her suite in Buckingham Palace in 1993. She was 89.

Reeman Dansie/Reuters

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Sister Helen Rowe, shown here holding Prince Charles after his christening in December, 1948, was Britain’s most famous - and most exclusive - midwife. She was present for the births of all four of Queen Elizabeth II’s children, as well as many other royals and the offspring of the British elite. According to her 1966 obituary in the Glasgow Herald, she disliked the limelight. After a royal birth she would slip quietly away to her home, entering and leaving such places as Buckingham Palace by side doors.

The Associated Press

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Agnes Couper worked as a nanny for the Royal family in the 1950's, before she moved to Toronto. In this photo Couper (far right) is with Prince Charles and Princess Anne, nursery footman Ian Williams, and another nursery staff member, Mabel Anderson (left) in the summer of 1951.

Moe Doiron/The Globe and Mail

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Couper was born and raised in Scotland. When she came to Canada, she worked in the travel industry and volunteered, but did not talk much about her years as a royal nanny, according to a newsletter published by the Monarchist League of Canada. In this photo, Couper and a young Prince Charles leave Clarence House in 1951.

Moe Doiron/The Globe and Mail

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Couper was briefly reunited with Prince Charles when the monarch visited Canada in May, 2012. Couper’s friend and colleague, Karen Fawcett, had learned of the Prince’s visit as part of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations and made a request to the Palace that Couper be invited to one of the events at the Distillery District in Toronto. “This lovely encounter and chat...lasted a number of minutes,” reported The Monarchist League of Canada in their newsletter.

The Monarchist League of Canada - Toronto branch

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Helen Lightbody, Charles’ Scottish-born nanny, was reportedly fired by Queen Elizabeth II because she overruled a dessert the queen ordered for Prince Charles’ dinner. Here, Lightbody wheels Prince Charles through St. Jame's Park, London, on his third birthday, Nov. 14 1951.

The Associated Press

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Lightbody, the daughter of an Edinburgh textile worker, ran the palace nursery for eight years from 1948, when Charles was a month old, until she left in 1956. After the dessert incident, she came to be known in the press as "No-Nonsense Lightbody." She reportedly had been warned about being too stern with Charles, then 7, and his younger sister, Anne, 6. After she was dismissed, she returned to Scotland with a pension of $14 a week. Charles continued to visit Miss Lightbody after she had left the palace, and she was invited in 1969 to his investiture as Prince of Wales and to his 21st birthday party. Here she is with Princess Anne and Prince Charles in Scotland on June 17, 1952 after driving from Balmoral Castle.

The Associated Press

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Mabel Anderson was nanny to all four of Elizabeth’s children. At 83, she was invited to take a summer cruise with the Queen and Prince Philip, reportedly as a thank-you for six decades of loyalty and discretion. She and Prince Charles were especially close. After Miss Anderson retired in 1981 after 32 years of service, the Queen and the Prince Charles secured her a lifelong grace-and-favour home in a wing of Frogmore House, Windsor Great Park, and the heir to the throne personally supervised its redecoration using his own designer. Here, she is photographed carrying Prince Andrew is carried along a platform at King's Cross Station, London, on August 12, 1960.

The Associated Press

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Barbara Barnes was one of several nannies who cared for Princes’ William and Harry. She arrived at William’s birth and left on the day he started school at the age four. From then on it was the boys’ secondary nanny, Olga Powell who eventually took the helm and stayed on until they were young men. Here Prince William waves as he is led by Barnes from St. Mary's Hospital in Paddington, London, after visiting his mother, Princess Diana and new baby brother, Harry, on Sept. 16, 1984.

Dave Caulkin/The Associated Press

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The boys and their mother, Diana, adored Nanny Olga, who was stern but fun. But after Diana and Charles divorced, Charles hired Tiggy Legge-Bourke (now Pettifer), a preschool teacher and daughter of a rich merchant banker, to look after the boys while they with him. Here, William and Harry walk through the River Dee with Tiggy on a day out in the Highlands near Balmoral.

Ian Waldie/Reuters

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Tiggy became infamous for a series of public gaffes, such as calling the princes “my babies,” smoking cigarettes around them and passing out cups of gin while the boys hunted foxes (she was nearly fired after 14-year-old Prince Harry was photographed dangling 160 feet above a dam without a helmet and proper safety line under Tiggy’s watch). Diana was reportedly not a fan (This may not have been helped by rumours that Charles and Tiggy were lovers). But her charges remain loyal: Tiggy’s 7-year-old son, Tom Pettifer, was one of the scarlet-clad pageboys at William and Kate’s wedding. Here, Prince Harry chats with his former nanny after the Sovereign's Parade at the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst, southern England Wednesday April 12, 2006.

Dylan Martinez/The Associated Press

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