The Duchess of Cambridge’s unflinching devotion to her little ones and desire to give them as normal an upbringing as possible has won her great admiration from royal watchers all around the world. In that respect, Kate Middleton is following in the footsteps of Prince William’s late mother, Princess Diana. “Kate owes a great debt to the woman whom she never met, her mother-in-law. Kate’s been inspired by her embracing and natural approach to life,” Paul Burrell, Diana’s former butler, told Closer Weekly in an exclusive new interview.

“And Diana changed the royal rulebook for the women who would marry her sons. She fought so hard to establish a regular life for them. Because she had William and Prince Harry in her custody for their formative years, she was able to instill in them her own values and morals,” Burrell continued. As a result of his upbringing, William, 35, makes it a priority to be there for Kate just as she is for him, as they strive to balance their personal and public lives. “I’m very lucky in the support I have in Catherine. She is an amazing mother and a fantastic wife,” William has enthused, and he’s clearly on the same page with his wife about how they want to raise their kids.

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Kate (left) and Diana (right). (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

“Kate has ensured that her children are protected and have as near to a normal life as possible,” Burrell told Closer. The 35-year-old and William, for example, have bucked tradition by choosing the more casual, co-ed Thomas’s Battersea primary school in London for son Prince George, 4, to attend. “She wants her kids to mix with other children from all backgrounds and not just have a life of privilege,” a friend told Closer of the school where George will be taught reading and writing along with French, art, music, and sports.

Some royal eyebrows might have raised when Wetherby, the prestigious institution both William and Harry attended, was nixed as an option for George, but Kate and William stood their ground. “They’re such a good team. As parents, they discuss every aspect of their children’s upbringing together,” Burrell noted. “They are equal partners.” William’s faithfulness to Kate is not only empowering to her — but rare. “They have something that Diana never had in her married life — true love,” Burrell explained. “It’s obvious William and Kate adore each other, and the strength that comes from that will see them through any situation.”

Another built-in support system for Kate is her mother and father, Carole and Michael Middleton. “Kate can share her children with her parents and she has an escape at their home, which is something Diana never had,” Burrell noted. “Kate spends more time with her parents than she does with her in-laws, while Diana was never allowed that luxury.” And because the Middletons’ Berkshire home is much more laid-back than Buckingham Palace, Kate knows her kids’ time there will help keep them grounded. “They get to enjoy regular park outings, visit the local farm parks, bake cakes, and take countryside walks,” Katie Nicholl, author of Kate: The Future Queen, told Closer.

Kate’s folks are also allowed to spoil the little ones. “She knows that Carole and Michael give the kids treats, like chips and chocolates,” Nicholl revealed, “so Kate is quite strict when it comes to what the kids eat at home. She’ll blend vegetables into sauces to get them eating their greens and rewards are given if the children finish their plates.”

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George, William, Kate, and Princess Charlotte. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

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