In an era of 24-hour news channels and instant information via social media, there is one announcement that won’t be made electronically this summer: the birth of the royal baby.
When the Duchess of Cambridge delivers her baby next month at St. Mary’s hospital in central London, the birth will be made public by a long-standing tradition of posting a notice outside Buckingham Palace. According to royal source, a bulletin signed by medical staff will be driven from the hospital to the palace and placed on an easel just inside the iron gates. Only then will officials send out an electronic announcement. A formal birth certificate, issued by the City of Westminster, will be released a few days later.
Britain is already gearing up for the royal birth which is expected in mid-July. The Duchess of Cambridge made her last public appearance on Saturday to commemorate the Queen’s birthday and she likely won’t be seen again until she leaves the hospital with her child.
Royal sources say the palace wants to stick with tradition and generate a sense of theatre about the birth of the child, who will be third in line to the throne regardless of sex. A handful of people, including the Queen and the Prime Minister, will be notified prior to the notice being posted, sources said. The British government will also notify Governor Generals from all the Commonwealth countries.
The process is similar to the one followed at the births of Prince William in 1982 and Prince Harry in 1984. The easel will be the same one used to announce the birth of Prince William, sources said.
The baby will be delivered in the Lindo Wing of St. Mary's hospital, the same place Princess Diana had her sons. While the hospital is a public facility, the wing is private and fees for a delivery cost around $7,000.
The Duchess of Cambridge’s pregnancy has already generated global attention ever since it was announced last winter. Pictures of a pregnant Kate have been daily features in British newspapers and there has been constant speculation about her condition and whether she might use novel techniques, such as hypnosis, to ease the pain. Palace officials have not commented on the speculation and sources say she will be in the care of two royal gynecologists and staff at St. Mary’s.
In December, hundreds of media descended on another central London hospital after she was briefly admitted for morning sickness. That turned into tragedy when a nurse at the hospital committed suicide after falling for a prank by two radio disc jockeys from Australia who called the hospital impersonating Prince Charles.
The birth will attract an even larger crowd and palace officials are making plans for a massive media presence outside Buckingham Palace and the hospital, which is part of the National Health Service. There will also likely be at least one 21-gun salute and other pageantry after the announcement. And the baby’s baptism, likely two months later, will attract another round of global coverage.
Prince William is expected to take the standard two-week maternity leave from his posting with the Royal Air Force where he works with search and rescue crews at a base in Wales. He will then return to his duties, sources indicated, although his three-year tour is coming to an end. A decision on his future has yet to be made but it is expected by September.
Palace officials have kept mum on possible names for the child, who will carry the title Prince or Princess of Cambridge. Sources have also indicated that the couple do not know the baby’s sex. Prince William’s name was not announced for several days after his birth, although the name of his brother, Prince Harry, was announced within hours of his birth.
It’s unclear where the couple will stay immediately after Kate leaves the hospital, but they are expected to continue living at Kensington Palace.