Latest developments in the royal baby watch
LONDON (CNN) — Royal watchers eagerly await the arrival of a child who will be heir to the British throne. Here’s what you need to know and the latest developments:
• The appearance of a couple looking very like William and Catherine outside the hospital where she is expected to give birth provided a moment of excitement — but it was a stunt organized by The Sun, Britain’s best-selling tabloid newspaper.
• As the wait for the royal baby continues, so does the debate over the Duchess of Cambridge’s actual due date. Britain’s Telegraph newspaper reports Friday, citing “well-placed sources,” that medical staff at St. Mary’s Hospital — where Catherine is expected to give birth — were told the due date was July 19.
• A royal source told CNN that her due date was July 13. She and Prince William announced at the start of the year that the baby was due in July, but did not announce the date.
• The Duchess of Cambridge is expected to give birth in the private Lindo Wing of St. Mary’s Hospital, next to Paddington Station in London. It’s where William was born, as was his brother Harry. Catherine’s mother, Carole Middleton, is likely to be on hand at the hospital.
• Could the world’s media be camped outside the wrong hospital, though? The Telegraph reported that a contingency plan is in place for Catherine to give birth at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading, if she goes into labor while staying at her parents’ home in Berkshire, and its swift progress means the journey back to London is impractical.
• There’s no doubting the media interest in the royal birth. The Sun newspaper is streaming live video of the entrance to the Lindo Wing, as is Stylist magazine. The days-long vigil outside the hospital has also inspired a spew of #GreatKateWait tweets from the waiting media pack — as rounded up by New York Magazine.
• One person who won’t be at the Lindo Wing is Home Secretary Theresa May. Asked by a fellow lawmaker whether she would be attending the royal birth, as was formerly customary, she replied: “In fact, it is no longer the case that the home secretary is required to attend a royal birth. The tradition — now defunct — goes back many centuries, she said, explaining that “the home secretary had to be there to evidence that it was genuinely a royal birth and that a baby hadn’t been smuggled in.”
• Some people are thinking further ahead already. An Ipsos Mori poll released Thursday revealed almost two-thirds of those surveyed think William and Catherine’s child should have a normal job before taking on royal duties. One in five disagrees. However, 70% of those polled think that it is impossible for the children of royalty to have a normal upbringing. The same survey found support for Britain’s monarchy remains high, with more than three-quarters in favor of a monarchy over a republic.
• There’s been plenty of speculation about the baby’s name — and betting is going strong. The famous Battersea Dogs and Cats Home in London, which takes in and finds homes for lost and unwanted pets, has gone a step further and named a litter of kittens after the bookies’ favorites: Alexandra, Charlotte, Elizabeth, Victoria, Grace, James and George.
• Queen Elizabeth II is among those keen for the new baby to greet the world. On a visit to northern England on Wednesday, she was asked by a little girl whether she wants her great-grandchild to be a boy or a girl. The queen replied: “I don’t think I mind. I would very much like it to arrive. I’m going on holiday.”
• Prince Charles’ wife, Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, said Monday that the family was on tenterhooks for the baby’s arrival — and suggested it could be very soon. “We’re all waiting at the end of a telephone,” she said, in an exchange filmed by ITV. “I hope by the end of the week, he or she will be there.”
• The baby will have the title His or Her Royal Highness Prince or Princess (the baby’s name) of Cambridge, St. James’s Palace said this month. However, it could be as long as 10 days before the baby’s name is announced.
• Anyone born in Britain on the same day as William and Catherine’s baby will receive a special coin from the Royal Mint: a silver penny, dated 2013, that will come in a blue pouch for a boy or a pink one for a girl.
• The first indication that the royal baby is on its way will be an announcement in the media that the duchess has been admitted to the hospital in the early stages of labor, royal sources tell CNN. The next public announcement is expected to be that of the birth. It will be made in the form of a formal bulletin, signed by medical staff and rushed in a car with a police escort to Buckingham Palace. There, the notice will be placed in a gilt frame positioned on an easel — the same one used to announce William’s birth — and placed in the palace forecourt for all to see.
• The first to know about the royal baby will be Queen Elizabeth II, Prime Minister David Cameron and the governors general of each of the commonwealth nations, along with the rest of the royal and Middleton families. If the baby arrives in the middle of the night, it’s unlikely the queen will be awoken, so there is a chance in that instance that an official announcement will not be made until the following morning.
• Celebratory gun salutes will be sounded by the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery in Green Park (41 rounds) and the Honorable Artillery Company at the Tower of London (62 rounds) after the baby is born.
• William and Catherine did not want to know the sex of their baby beforehand, royal sources say. There has been speculation it is a girl, however, especially after a member of the public said in March that the duchess almost uttered “daughter” while at a public event in Grimsby. The woman said the duchess was given a teddy bear and replied, “Thank you, I will take that for my d–” but then stopped herself.
• The baby will be third in line to the throne after Prince Charles and Prince William, regardless of gender. A rule change in 2011 ended centuries of male primogeniture, which decreed that the crown passed to the eldest son and was bestowed on a daughter only when there were no sons. It means that if the next royal baby is a girl, she will eventually become queen; previously, a younger male sibling would have taken precedence.
• The queen’s cousin, Margaret Rhodes, told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour she hoped the child would have a normal childhood. “I imagine and hope that its early life, until it’s at least in its teens, will be just a jolly, happy, ordinary child’s life,” she said.
• It’s not known where the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge plan to spend the days and weeks following the birth. William is expected to be given the usual paternity leave of two weeks by the Ministry of Defence, royal sources say. He will then return to his job as a helicopter search and rescue pilot.
• The revelation that Catherine was pregnant came after she was admitted to a London hospital in December for acute morning sickness.
By Laura Smith-Spark