Prince William and Kate Middleton recently revealed the due date for their third baby. In honor of the announcement, we thought we might take a look at some royal baby traditions you probably didn’t know existed.
1. Royals used to give birth at home
This practice lasted for decades. Queen Elizabeth gave birth to Charles, Andrew, and Edward at Buckingham Palace, and to her daughter, Anne, at the Clarence House. The Queen herself was born in a private family home in London.
2. Princess Diana put an end to this tradition
And started a new one. She gave birth to both William and Harry at St. Mary’s Hospital, the same place where Kate and William’s children were born. However, allegedly, Kate may go back to the old ways and have her third baby at home.
3. The delivery of a royal baby had to be witnessed
This tradition was in place for centuries: there had to be someone in the delivery room who could confirm that a royal baby had been born. That honor went to the home secretary who witnessed the birth of Queen Elizabeth in 1926. An end was put to this practice before Prince Charles was born in 1948.
4. The father wasn’t permitted to enter the delivery room
This tradition also lasted until the birth of Prince Charles. Fathers weren’t allowed in the delivery room, seeing as giving birth was an all-female event.
Royal children, including Queen Elizabeth herself, used to be homeschooled. Nevertheless, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge decided that Prince George and Princes Charlotte would go to school. In 2016, Prince George started attending the Westacre Montessori School Nursery in Norfolk, England.
6. No public schools
Royals don’t go to public schools. This September, Prince George started primary school at Thomas’s Battersea School, an elite private school in London.
7. Princess Diana interrupted this tradition as well
Prince William attended public school, which makes him the first heir to the throne to do so.
8. The role of the non-royal grandparents
This has changed with the times, but it used to happen often that the other set of grandparents were disregarded. Not only that, but efforts were consciously made to stop the royal children from forming a close relationship with their maternal grandparents, unless, of course, they too were of royal descent.
9. The mother’s clothes in her first post-birth public appearance are very important
After giving birth to Prince George, Kate wore a polka-dot dress not unlike the one Princess Diana wore in her first public appearance post-birth. The choice of attire is deemed to have been a way of paying a tribute to the late Princess.
Generally, midwives are always present for royal births. Reportedly, the Duchess of Cambridge had three midwives (sworn to secrecy, naturally) when she gave birth to Princess Charlotte.
11. The announcement of births
Royal births are announced on an easel in front of Buckingham Palace. Kate and William sort of broke this tradition when they shared the news about the birth of Prince George via email and Twitter, before the easel had been displayed.
12. The announcement used to be handwritten
However, nowadays it’s typed. After the doctors sign it at the hospital, a car takes the announcement to the palace, where it’s put on display.
13. The queue
In front of the palace, people form a queue to see the easel.
14. The salute
The birth of a royal baby is saluted by firing 62 guns from the Tower of London.
15. The other salute
The other salute is the one with 41 guns from Green Park. This one is located near Buckingham Palace.
16. Royal babies are given three to four first names.
Prince William’s full name is William Arthur Philip Louis. Prince George’s full name is George Alexander Lewis and Princess Charlotte’s full name is Charlotte Elizabeth Diana.
17. How are the names chosen?
Usually, by combining the names of previous monarchs and relatives.
18. No surname
Royal babies don’t need a last name. Before the 20th century, royals didn’t even have a last name. They used their family’s territorial designation instead.
19. They use a surname in school
Prince George will be known as George Cambridge while at school.
20. An official title
Royal babies have an official title. The correct way to refer to the little royal is His or Her Royal Highness Prince or Princess (name) of Cambridge.
21. The town crier
An unofficial town crier announces the birth to the masses. Currently, this function is performed by Tony Appleton who announced the births of both Prince George and Princess Charlotte. The origins of this tradition lie in the Middle Ages when the majority of the common folk were illiterate.
22. Crowds in front of the hospital
People await the birth of the new royal right outside the hospital and sometimes they even spend the night there.
23. Informing the Queen
The royal birth must be communicated first to the Queen before making an official announcement. When Prince George was born, Prince William, following protocol, called his grandmother on an encrypted phone.
24. The male-preference primogeniture
The tradion that a younger son would inherit the throne before an older sister was abolished with the Succession to the Crown Act in 2013.
25. A designated royal OB-GYN performs the royal births
Marcus Setchell is the Queen’s obstetrician-gynecologist and he deleivered Prince George as well, postponing his retirement. Prince William and Harry, however, were delivered by Sir George Pinker.
Royal mothers traditionally breastfeed their babies. Queen Elizabeth II did, and Princess Diana as well. Reportedly, Kate Middleton did the same, but this hasn’t been confirmed.
27. Breastfeeding wasn’t practiced in the past
“Queen Victoria found the idea of breastfeeding repellent, considering it the ‘ruin’ of intellectual and refined young ladies,” according to The Telegraph. There is no rule today: the decision is personal.
28. Announcing due dates
Due dates are not necessarily announced immediately. Kate announced her third pregnancy early because of her severe morning sickness, and the due date was recently revealed to be in April 2018.
29. Announcing the baby name
The name isn’t necessarily announced immediately as well. Prince Harry’s name was announced the same day he was born; however, Princess Diana and Prince Charles waited a few days before revealing Prince William’s name.
30. Paternity leave is expected
After the birth of both his children, Prince William received unpaid paternity leave from the Royal Air Force.
Royal babies get pets. This picture shows young Prince Williams with his Shetland pony at Highgrove House in Doughton, Gloucestershire in 1986.
The royal baby receives gifts from foreign leaders and the public. New Zealand sent the same present for the birth of Prince George as the one they sent for Prince William over thirty years ago – a fine merino wool shawl. A staggering 610 presents were sent to Prince George, and they were displayed at the “Royal Childhood” Buckingham Palace exhibit.
Traditionally, royal babies wear cloth diapers. The first one to use the disposable kind was Prince William.
34. The Trooping the Colour ceremony
Royal children must attend the annual Trooping the Colour ceremony, also known as the Queen’s official birthday celebration. During the ceremony, the Royal family stands at the palace balcony and watches the Royal Air Force fly above.
35. Announcing the pregnancy
Usually, the announcement that there is a new royal on the way is made after the 12th week of pregnancy. An exception was made for Kate Middleton. Due to her acute morning sickness she was forced to skip a few events, and news of her pregnancy followed soon after.
36. The gender
The gender of the baby is not revealed before the birth. Kate and William have kept this tradition, and, according to rumors, even they didn’t know Prince George’s gender.
37. Registering the birth
Just like everyone else, royals need to officialy register the birth within 42 days at the hospital or a local register office, as per English and Welsh law.
Traditionally, nannies are the central caretakers for the royal baby. They are trained in defensive driving and security protocols. Prince George and Princess Charlotte’s nanny is Maria Borrallo.
Royal babies make their first public appearance at their christening, which may be a few days or a few weeks after they are born. Prince George was christened at St. James’s Palace in London. Princess Charlotte was christened at Church of St. Mary Magdalene on Queen Elizabeth II’s Sandringham Estate.
40. The christening is performed by the official head of the Church of England
Currently, that is the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby. The event isn’t always held at a church. Princes Charles and William were christened in the Music Room in Buckingham Palace. Queen Elizabeth and her sister, the late Princess Margaret, were baptized in a private chapel that was destroyed during World War II.
41. Media access
Often the media isn’t permitted to be present at the christening. They are, however, let into the after-party. This tradition was broken with Princess Charlotte, when the Royal family allowed the public to take selfies.
42. The official portrait
The official portrait is released after the christening.
43. The christening gown has historical significance
The gown that has been used for all royal christening ceremonies in the past thirteen years is a replica of the one used since 1841 during Queen Victoria’s reign. The original gown was worn by sixty two royal babies, including Princes Charles, William, and Harry.
44. The public joins in the celebration
The christening ceremonies have a specially designated area for the spectatators. Charlotte’s was the most public christening in history.
Royal babies have around six godparents. Prince George has seven and Princess Charlotte has five.
46. Choosing a godparent
The godparents can’t be chosen from the family members. This means that Prince Harry cannot be the godfather of William’s children.
47. Notifying the officials
The officials, such as the Lord Mayor of London, and the Governors of Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands, and the Isle of Man, must be notified about the birth of a royal baby by the Home Secretary.
48. Number of children per family
No royal family has had more than two children for the past 58 years. Kate and William will be the first to do so, since Queen Elizabeth herself gave birth to her four children.
49. Meetings with world leaders
It is not usual for royal children to meet with world leaders. However, an exception was made when, in April 2016, Prince George met the Obamas at Kensigton Palace.
50. There is a considerable number of royal traditions
And yet, sometimes it’s okay to break them.