Eight things to know about the impending royal birth

  • Updated: July 13, 2013 - 3:38 PM

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Britain is in high baby-anticipation mode, and the stores are flooded with items like “Born to Rule” onesies. And bookmakers have been taking bets on anything and everything. But what do we really know?

1 When will it happen? There has been no official announcement about what day the baby in question, the first child of Prince William and the duchess formerly known as Kate Middleton, is expected to arrive — other than to say it’s this month. At least one tabloid proclaimed that Saturday is the day. The photographers and cameramen set up camp July 1, using masking tape to mark out territory for their stepladders.

2 Where’s the couple now? Kate was last seen in public June 15, when she and her in-laws took part in the annual ritual known as Trooping the Color, which involves a lot of pageantry, including a military flyover and the requisite royal family appearance on the Buckingham Palace balcony. It is unclear where she is now, but the main choices seem to be at her marital home in Kensington Palace or with her parents in the country. William is reportedly still at work as a Royal Air Force search-and-rescue helicopter pilot in Anglesey, Wales, where he reportedly has a helicopter on permanent standby, ready to take off the moment his wife shows signs of labor. (“Operation Heir-Lift,” the Daily Mail reported.) 

3 Where will the new heir fall in the royal succession? We know that the baby will be known as the Prince (or Princess) of Cambridge. We know that, thanks to recent changes in the law of royal succession, she (or he) will be the third in line to the throne, after Prince Charles, 64, and William, 31, and that poor Prince Harry will be bounced down to fourth place. (It could take some time for this future monarch to become the current monarch. Queen Elizabeth is 87 years old, but she is not the abdicating kind, and there are longevity genes in the family; her own mother lived to be 102.)

4 How will the birth be announced? The news will go out the old-fashioned way, by proclamation. A document signed by the medical team and revealing the sex of the child will be taken from the hospital and placed on an easel installed inside the Buckingham Palace gates, ready to be gaped at by tourists and other passers-by. Only then will the palace release the news on social media. “There is no intention of announcing this first on Twitter,” a palace spokeswoman said.

5 What do we know about the medical team? The team will be led by Marcus Setchell, the royal household’s official surgeon and gynecologist. Kate plans to give birth in the private Lindo Wing of St. Mary’s Hospital in Paddington, West London. This is where William — the first heir to the throne to be born in a hospital, rather than at home — was born in 1982. In truth, no one is even sure that people are in fact waiting in the correct place. The photographers said that they were waiting at the front door for one reason alone, to grab a shot of Kate as she makes the historic journey from vehicle to hospital. But the palace said, “Once she is safely inside, we will confirm that she is inside.”

6 Will William take paternity leave? “He will be working right up to the end, and then he will take two weeks standard paternity leave,” a spokeswoman said.

7 What do we know about gender and names? The couple chose not to find out the sex of the baby. But bookmakers — eager to capitalize on the British love of gambling — have been taking bets on anything and everything, including the sex of the baby. (Other bets they’re taking up: length of labor, time of birth, whether Kate is “too posh to push” — sources says she’s not and plans to have a natural delivery — and the name of baby. The current favorite names, based on nothing but public opinion, are Elizabeth, Alexandra, Charlotte and Diana for girls, and George and James for boys.)

8 What other buzz is out there? A secret phone? There are other things that fall into the category of amusing but hazily sourced speculation. Will Kate’s mother, Carole, and sister, Pippa, be with her during her labor? Does Setchell, the royal household’s surgeon, have a specially encrypted cellphone on which he communicates with the royal family? Will they wake the queen if the delivery is in the middle of the night? What kind of post-baby exercise regime will her superfit sister subject her to? Will Kate and William ever use the items — diaper rash cream, a pacifier and a packet of condoms, among other things — in the box sent by the Finnish government and given as a matter of course to Finnish mothers-to-be?

NEW YORK TIMES

 

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