Catherine, Princess of Wales, Has a “Secret Code” to Calm Her Kids Down at Royal Events

The four words seem to work—most of the time.

Kate Middleton, Prince Louis
(Image credit: Getty)

Anyone with children or who has been around a child for any length of time knows that you can’t predict their behavior on any given day. Imagine being Catherine, Princess of Wales, with three children under the age of 10 appearing on the world stage at royal events that dot the calendar—think Prince Louis (God love him) at the Platinum Jubilee Pageant last June. (He’s four years old, it had been a long weekend already, and he was apparently on a sugar high—so we can’t really blame him.)

According to the new book Gilded Youth: An Intimate History of Growing Up in the Royal Family (and per Hello), author Tom Quinn learned, after speaking to former employees of the royal family, that Kate has a “secret code” she uses frequently with kids Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and the aforementioned Louis to help keep them in line while in the public eye.

“When Prince Louis misbehaved at the late Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, for example, by sticking his tongue out at his mother, Kate’s reaction was praised by teams of expert commentators,” Quinn writes. “She apparently used a secret code to calm the children, as she does on occasions—she simply says, ‘Let’s take a break.’”

The book quotes a former royal staff member who explains the four-word phrase is Kate’s sign to her kids to behave and stop messing around, with consequences to follow at home if they don’t listen. (Can’t you just hear those words coming out of Kate’s mouth right at the moment the above photo was taken?)

“But as a former staffer explained, the children know these few words carry far more weight than we might imagine,” Quinn writes.

One of Kate’s chief interests in her work as a royal is early years development, so one can imagine that “Let’s take a break” is not four words she strung together lightly and without forethought. As she said herself in 2019, when it comes to raising kids, she knows “how important it is that we get it right.”

Rachel Burchfield
Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor

Rachel Burchfield is a writer, editor, and podcaster whose primary interests are fashion and beauty, society and culture, and, most especially, the British Royal Family and other royal families around the world. She serves as Marie Claire’s Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor and has also contributed to publications like Allure, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar, InStyle, People, Vanity Fair, Vogue, and W, among others. Before taking on her current role with Marie Claire, Rachel served as its Weekend Editor and later Royals Editor. She is the cohost of Podcast Royal, a show that was named a top five royal podcast by The New York Times. A voracious reader and lover of books, Rachel also hosts I’d Rather Be Reading, which spotlights the best current nonfiction books hitting the market and interviews the authors of them. Rachel frequently appears as a media commentator, and she or her work has appeared on outlets like NBC’s Today Show, ABC’s Good Morning America, CNN, and more.