The 'child whisperer' nanny who kept the bridesmaids and pageboys in line at the royal wedding
If you hadn’t been looking for her, you would have missed her entirely. Prince George and Princess Charlotte’s nanny blended expertly into the background in St George’s Chapel on Saturday, looking on from the sidelines as her little charges and their fellow bridesmaids and page boys performed their duties beautifully.
But if Maria Borrallo hadn’t been present in the chapel, there is a chance the ceremony might not have gone quite so smoothly.
Rehearsals for the big day had been shambolic, insiders say, with the children - the youngest of whom, Zalie, daughter of Prince Harry’s friend Jake Warren, was only two years old - proving impossible to keep in line.
It was decided that the two eldest children, seven year-old twins Brian and John Mulroney, should be tasked with the important job of holding a corner each of the new Duchess of Sussex’s five metre-long train.
The boys are said to have been practising with a train (with mixed results) since Wednesday, learning how to keep the same pace as they walked down the aisle, when to pick up and put down the the hand-embroidered silk and organza veil - which had been sewn with flowers from each of the 53 Commonwealth nations - and just how high to hold it up. Would they step on it and tear it? Would they remember what to do when? Their mother, the Duchess’s best friend Jessica Mulroney, must have breathed a sigh of relief when her sons’ duties were finally done.
One of the gap-toothed twins- Brian - stole the nation's hearts when he peeked out from behind the Duchess as she entered the chapel, his mouth dropping open in delight at the sight of 600 people waiting for him inside. It provided the perfect photo opportunity which his father, Ben Mulroney, has hinted may have earned him a special treat as a reward.
"Ok, Brian," Mr Mulroney wrote on Instagram. "You're getting a TV in your room for the summer."
While the boys were concentrating on their job, their little sister Ivy - along with Princess Charlotte, three, Prince George, four, Prince Harry’s godchildren Jasper Dyer, six, and Florence van Cutsem, three, and the Duchess’ goddaughters Rylan and Remi Litt, seven and six - were to wait in the wings before trotting after them down the aisle.
On the day, it all became too much for little Zalie Warren, who had to be picked up and comforted by Prince George and Princess Charlotte’s nanny before she could make her way down the aisle, holding Princess Charlotte’s hand.
Ms Borrallo, who has been with the family for four years now, was on hand to keep the children in check on Saturday, doing such a brilliant job that many of the parents in the congregation commented that she must be “magic”, and said they wanted to know “all her secrets”.
By the end of the morning, she had become known as “the child whisperer”, so adept was Ms Borrallo at keeping the children quiet and happy in the midst of the pomp and circumstance which threatened to overwhelm them.
Her secret? An insider says one of the techniques the Norland Nanny employed to get the children to stand nicely was the promise of Smarties. And who could blame her? What little person wouldn’t behave with the possibility of handful of Smarties hanging in the balance? Whatever her technique, it seems to have worked - all ten children executed their role beautifully.
Usually sporting the traditional Norland uniform of a brown fifties-style nurse’s dress, white gloves, brown brogues and a little brown bowler hat, Ms Borrallo was able to blend into the background on Saturday in a simple navy dress, eschewing her uniform for the day - only a discreet badge with the Norland motto “Love Never Faileth” giving her away.
Ms Borrallo, who was appointed by the Duke and Duchess in 2014, when Prince George was just eight months old, has often been called upon to be on hand at royal occasions, in case one of the children needs to be looked after.
She lives with the family at Kensington Palace, and travels with them on royal tours and excursions.
Norland Nannies are highly accomplished - they have to be adept at everything from sewing and cooking to self defence. The Duchess of Cambridge has said of her in the past she is “amazing”.
Ironically, when the Duke of York married Sarah Ferguson in 1986, a young Prince William was such a badly behaved page boy (he refused to remain still while the couple exchanged vows, and stuck his tongue out at the flower girls), that his nanny was replaced following the wedding.
His children's nanny will have been invaluable to his family in the past month as they have been adjusting to life with their new arrival, Prince Louis.
Super nanny Kathryn Mewes explains: “Norlanders don’t just consider the children, they consider the father and mother, too.
“They are aware of the sensitivities of breastfeeding and sleeplessness, and they allow the mum to focus on the newborn while keeping the other children stable, secure and happy.”
She certainly performed her duties admirably on Saturday. In fact, Her Royal Highness ought to watch out, after Ms Borrallo’s performance in the chapel, she could be getting a call from one or two Hollywood mothers in the coming days.