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Five things to expect when Britain's littlest heir is born

Royal baby announcements aren't like any old baby announcement. They have all the pomp and circumstance you might expect. Here's what to look for when William and Kate's first-born arrives.

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ONE: a handwritten birth notice near the gates of Buckingham Palace. In June 2013, palace officials told the media to expect a royal aide to emerge from the hospital with a signed bulletin on foolscap-sized paper carrying the Buckingham Palace letterhead. The bulletin will be given to an official who will be driven to the Palace, where it will be posted on an easel in public view in front of the building. At the same time the bulletin is posted, there will be an announcement on Twitter and the media will be formally notified. The document will give the baby’s gender, weight and time of birth. Here, people are seen outside Buckingham Palace on the morning of November 13, 1948 awaiting the news of the birth of Princess Elizabeth's baby. Prince Charles was born November 14, 1948.

The Associated Press

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Here’s a close-up of the handwritten bulletin posted on the evening of November 14, 1948. It reads: "Her Royal Highness, the Princess Elizabeth, Duchess of Edinburgh, was safely delivered of a prince [Prince Charles] at 9.14 o'clock this evening. Her Royal Highness and the infant prince are both well.

The Associated Press

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This is another official bulletin attached to the gate outside Buckingham Palace in London, announcing the birth of a son to Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip. The bulletin dated March 10, 1964 reads: "The Queen was safely delivered of a son at eight-twenty this evening. Her Majesty and the infant Prince are both well." It is signed by the five physicians who attended the queen. The new prince [Prince Edward] is third in line to the throne.

The Associated Press

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Just for fun, here’s this entry in the birth register of the City of Westminster for Prince William on July 19, 1982. The handwriting belongs to the registrar, Mrs Joan Webb, at Kensington Palace and it is signed by Charles, Prince of Wales. But for William and Kate's child, will the name be released right away? Not so fast. Officials said they don’t know how quickly a name will be chosen. When William was born, a week passed before his name was announced.

The Associated Press

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TWO: the 41-gun salute. This is the traditional salute to mark a royal birth. In this photo was taken the day after the birth of Prince Charles in 1948: a detachment of the First Regiment of the Honourable Artillery Company fired a 41 round salute on four guns at the Tower of London on the Embankment of the Thames in London. The Company is England's oldest regiment, dating back to at least 1537, and by ancient rights has the privilege of firing the salute from the Tower of London.

The Associated Press

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THREE: post-birth photo op. It’s likely the Duchess of Cambridge will give birth in hospital instead of in Buckingham Palace, where previous generations of royals gave birth before Princes William and Harry were born in hospital. However, if the littlest heir is born at St. Mary’s Hospital, the birthplace of her father, we’ll likely see a photo like this one. Here, Prince Charles and Princess Diana take home their newborn son Prince William, as they leave St. Mary's Hospital in London.

John Redman/The Associated Press

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Here is the post-birth photo op for Prince Harry. The royal couple took Harry home from St. Mary's Hospital in London just 22-hours after he was born.

The Associated Press

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FOUR: Staged family photos. British royals are well aware of the public’s hunger for photos of royal babies, and to appease the paparazzi, a photographer or two will be selected to photograph the young family. Those photographs will then be distributed to the worldwide press. There will likely be a few sessions like these. Here Prince William, age 6-months, plays with his parents during a special picture call at Kensington Palace in London, England on Dec. 22, 1982.

David Caulkin/ASSOCIATED PRESS

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FIVE: The christening. British royals are Protestant. Their babies are baptized in the Music Room of Buckingham Palace, wearing the same silk and lace christening robe first used by Queen Victoria's children back in the 1840s. It's now 172 years old. Of course, there will also be photos like this one from Aug. 4, 1982, for Prince William.

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

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The Prince and Princess of Wales, Prince Charles and Princess Diana with their children, Prince William, right, and the new Prince Harry, who was born September 15, 1984, photographed on October 5, 1984 at Kensington Palace, London.

AP

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