Yes, the day is getting closer. the day when Britain’s future King or Queen is born. In this feature article, we take a look at how royal babies’ births are handled by an institution with over 1000 years’ history, how births are proclaimed and received across the country and what amount of pomp & tradition will surround the birth of this new baby who will be third in line to the throne.
As anybody in Britain will tell you, one of the primary purposes of the Monarchy is to provide a source of continuity and, if you like, act as a font of tradition. Monarchy is all about tradition in the UK and it is certainly the institution that does it well. Most things done in the Royal Household, however small, are done in a certain way – the traditional way, and a royal birth will be no different.
Although over the years some of the more extravagant traditions have bowed gracefully out, the British do not (and would not) cut short on a celebration, which, (also internationally now), the royal birth will be.
When Prince William was born in 1982, almost the same amount of media attention was poured on the Princess Of Wales. The country knew the significance of this child as it would grow up to be King if a boy and possibly grow up to be Queen if a girl. With the impending Royal baby of the Duke and Duchess Of Cambridge, the circumstances are slightly different. The child, whatever its gender, will grow up to be Sovereign.
Whilst traditions such as proclaiming the birth of a royal baby still exist (we’ll get onto that shortly) some of the more unusual traditions have been abolished.
One of the biggest fears in history was that the baby might be swapped after birth, to ensure that this didn’t happen, the Home Secretary (a senior politician) used to have to stand outside of the delivery room to prevent such an occurrence. This won’t be necessary for the birth of the Duchess Of Cambridge’s baby, the last time the Home Secretary was present at a royal birth was for the birth of the Queen’s cousin, Princess Alexandra in 1936.
Traditionally, announcements of Royal births are attached to the railings of Buckingham Palace for members of the public to read, the one for the Duchess Of Cambridge might read, “Her Royal Highness The Duchess Of Cambridge was safely delivered of a boy/girl at X today. Her Royal Highness and the boy are both doing well.”
The birth will also be marked with a 41-gun salute from Green Park, the other usual saluting bases (HM Tower Of London (62-gun)). In 1982 when Prince William was born, hundreds of people gathered outside Buckingham Palace for the announcement. It is likely we’ll see something similar for the Duke and Duchess Of Cambridge’s baby.
Tradition dictates also that the birth will be proclaimed by town criers across the UK. Upon Prince William’s birth, the traditional formula for a proclamation was, “Her Royal Highness The Princess Of Wales has given birth to a baby boy! God Save The Queen”, shortly followed by ferocious cheers from the surrounding crowds.
Commonwealth Governors will also be notified. With all the technology we have now, the news is bound to break even quicker over the Internet as we’re sure we’ll be seeing in July when the Royal baby is born.
Names are usually announced shortly after the birth. Predictions of names have been rife ever since the announcement a few months ago. Favourites are Elizabeth for a girl and James for a boy as far as we can gather, though in a twist in 1988 that could take place in July, when Princess Beatrice was born, hot favourites for names were also, interestingly ‘Elizabeth’ and ‘Victoria’, when Beatrice was chosen, it was quite a surprise, so outsider-names might not be so far-fatched!