WHETHER you’re a royalist or a republican, there will be no escaping the baby frenzy over the coming weeks. Dani Garavelli offers 20 things you’ll need to know – perhaps despite yourself – about the royal birth
1 WHEN IS IT DUE? The new third in line to the throne was expected to arrive around 13 July. That’s what journalists had been banking on (some of us had booked the week off especially). But now there are rumours Kate may have “done a Princess Di”. Prince William, right, was born well before his due date – unusual for a first baby – giving rise to suspicions the media might have been deliberately misled (surely not). Closer examination suggests the 13 July date is pure speculation, based on a royalist wish that the birth happen in the middle of the four-day Coronation Festival (two celebrations involving crownings in the same week – how apposite). So the short answer is no-one has the foggiest, but the latest gossip suggests it could be as early as this week.
2 IS IT A BOY OR A GIRL? William and Kate don’t know if their bump has two X chromosomes or an X and a Y. Though 70 per cent of parents-to-be now choose to find out the gender of their baby, royal sources have been at pains to stress they’re bucking the trend. But that hasn’t stopped journalists from scrutinising every unguarded utterance for clues. After a “well-wisher” claimed Kate had accepted a gift of a teddy with the words: “Is that for my daught…”, it appeared a girl was on the way (it turned out she’d actually said: “Is that for me? Awww.”). The latest frenzy of speculation was provoked by Charles, who said a model bus he was given might double as an emergency toy. This was taken as proof they were expecting a boy as, obviously, girls would never play with anything on wheels.
3 THIS CALLS FOR A TOAST: While for most new mothers the highlight of their long labour is the tea and toast offered at the end of it, at the Lindo Wing of St Mary’s Hospital, Kate and her guests will be able to choose from an extensive wine list and may choose to wet the baby’s head with a glass of champagne. Private suites at the maternity unit where William and Harry were born boast all the facilities of a top hotel: satellite TV, safe and fridge and, of course, a dedicated kitchen staff to cater for every royal dietary whim. A straightforward delivery at the Lindo Wing will set a couple back around £10,000.
4 TOO POSH TO PUSH? Having eschewed the Portland Clinic – beloved of celebrities such as Victoria Beckham, left, and Anna Friel – Kate seems determined to go her own way when it comes to delivery too. Not for her the elective Caesareans favoured by the London glitterati; she hopes to give birth naturally. The Duchess, who was hospitalised early in her pregnancy with severe morning sickness, is also rumoured to be considering hypnobirthing. Then again, since royal birthing plans are rarely worth the crested notepaper they’re written on, she may be screaming for an epidural at the first contraction.
5 THE ROYAL DOCS: The doctors charged with delivering the royal baby are Marcus Setchell and Alan Farthing. Setchell, right, the Queen’s current surgeon gynaecologist, has already delivered several royal progeny, including the Countess of Wessex’s two babies, Lady Louise Windsor and Viscount Severn. Sophie was close to death when Lady Louise was born early in 2003 after the placenta ruptured the lining of the womb. Setchell also cared for the Countess of Wessex after an ectopic pregnancy in 2001 and performed Camilla’s hysterectomy. Farthing, surgeon-gynaecologist to the royal household, is the former fiancé of murdered TV presenter Jill Dando.
6 WILL WILLIAM MAKE IT ON TIME? Like all dads, Wills is a bit worried he might be at work when Kate goes into labour – so he’s got a contingency plan. The minute her contractions start, he will be whisked from Anglesey, where he is a search and rescue pilot, to London by helicopter – a journey of around two hours. With an aircraft at your disposal, you’ve no real excuse for turning up late clutching a bunch of flowers from a garage forecourt as an apology. After the birth, William is taking the standard fortnight’s paternity leave for which he will be paid £136.78 a week.
7 BATTLE OF THE GRANNIES/GREAT GRANNIES: There’s always a bit of tension after the birth, with rival families jostling to get first dibs on the newborn. You’d think, in this case, the hierarchy would be established given the baby’s great granny is the Queen, but the Middletons have played a blinder, opting to set up camp at the hospital itself, with Carole and Pippa expected to stay with Kate in the Lindo Wing throughout her labour. Not only that, but the baby is spending its first weeks not in a royal palace but in the Middletons’ Berkshire home. Imagine that: the future king or queen in a commoners’ £5 million hovel. It’s like something out of a Brothers Grimm fairytale.
8 MERCHANDISE: A British royal event without a barrel-load of tat would lack any sense of occasion. If dunking beautifully iced biscuits in the shape of prams, booties and teddies (£40 a tin from Biscuiteers) into a “Hooray for Wills and Kate” Emma Bridgewater mug of tea doesn’t seem like a fitting way to celebrate, then how about investing in an iPhone cover which shows the sprog with a crown on its head waving regally from its pram. If you have a sprog of your own and hope some of the royal sparkle will rub off, you could buy it a Union flag dummy courtesy of Zazzle. Alternatively, if the thought of all this turns your stomach, you could invest in a royal baby sick bag from Lydia Leith.
9 ALL A-FLUTTER: A betting frenzy is also under way as the royal birth approaches, with gamblers taking a punt on everything from the colour of the baby’s hair to its future occupation. According to William Hill, takings have trebled in the past week, with £50,000 wagered, while Paddy Power said it expected takings to top £300,000 overall. One of the oddest bets so far has been on the baby’s name being Hashtag, at odds of 500/1.
10 THE REAL ROYAL MONIKER: The bookies’ favourites are all a bit boring, really. They include George (the name of six British kings, including the Queen’s father) for a boy and Alexandra or Charlotte for a girl. At one time, odds of 6/1 were being offered on Diana, but it’s difficult to believe the royal couple would give their baby a name that comes with so much baggage (it’s more likely to be a middle name). Apparently Mary has made a late surge thanks to a mystery man in a top hat who placed a £100 bet on his way home from Royal Ascot. James (Kate’s brother’s name) is also in the mix, although this choice, synonymous with a succession of Scottish kings, might be read as a gambit in the independence referendum.
11 GLOBAL FANFARE: Knitting a kangaroo for the royal baby may have sounded the death knell for Australian PM Julia Gillard’s career, but all over the world people are gearing up to celebrate the royal birth. It is not clear if requests to light the Niagara Falls in blue or pink, depending on the sex of the baby, have been granted, but street parties are planned as far away as Cape Town, Ottawa and Mexico City. US TV show Good Morning America recently gave “royal makeovers” to three women due to give birth at the same time as Kate, while US show Today invited an animal behaviour expert on to give the new royal mum tips on how to introduce her newborn to Lupo, her dog.
12 THE ROYAL ANNOUNCEMENT: This baby may be part of the Twitter generation, but its birth is unlikely to be proclaimed with the words: “Mountbatten-Windsor Jnr is here. Has dad’s bald head. Peed on the midwife. LOL!” No, the arrival of the royal baby will invoke an age-old royal protocol. First, a press officer will emerge from the hospital clutching the announcement, signed by the doctors, on a sheet of headed palace notepaper. This sheet of paper will be chauffeured across London, escorted by a team of police outriders, before being put in a frame and displayed on an easel outside Buckingham Palace. To be fair, details of the birth may also be sent out on the @BritishMonarchy Twitter account.
13 TO BREASTFEED OR NOT TO BREASTFEED? You may think this is a private matter, but Kate has already been urged to get her royal orbs out by broadcaster Beverley Turner and, as Princess Diana breastfed, she’ll probably follow suit. Less is known about where Kate stands on the Gina Ford/ Penelope Leach controlled crying versus attachment parenting philosophies, but since a royal “insider” apparently told a celebrity website William was a fan of Supernanny they will doubtless be well versed in the concept of time out on the naughty step.
14 PIPPATIPS: Then again, who needs Jo Frost when you’ve got little sister Pippa, right, on hand to give parenting advice? The spoof Twitter account @Pippatips, has given Scotland on Sunday exclusive access to the kind of information she might pass on to Kate. “If your baby is crying, it might be hungry”; “Nappies need changing several times a day – this can be messy sometimes” and, most profoundly, “Dipping baby’s dummy in gin is frowned upon – try knocking it out with phenergan instead.”
15 FIT FOR A FUTURE KING (OR QUEEN): As previously mentioned, after their stint at the Lindo Wing, mother and baby will move to the Middletons’ home, while builders finish work on apartment 1A at Kensington Palace. When I say apartment, I do, of course, mean 21-room mega-home, complete with staff quarters and a nursery. The couple are said to have spent £1m doing up the property, which was formerly used by Princess Margaret.
16 ONLY THE BEST: When Kate buys a dress, it sells out in hours, so it’s little wonder the designers and manufacturers of baby accessories have been waiting with bated breath to see which brands she favours. So far, the country’s most famous mum-to-be has bought a white Moses basket from Blue Almonds baby boutique in London and a blue (did you hear that – blue?) Bugaboo stroller, left.
17 THIS IS YOUR SONG: Obviously a royal baby requires a royal lullaby, and Paul Mealor, the Welsh composer who wrote Ubi Caritas for Kate and Wills’ wedding, has risen to the occasion with a ditty called Sleep On recorded by classical superstar Hayley Westenra on a new album of lullabies which has already been sent to the couple.
18 THE NEXT BIG ROYAL HOOLIE: The minute the fanfare associated with the royal birth subsides, thoughts will turn to the baptism, which will probably be held in the Music Room at Buckingham Palace. We already know the baby will wear a replica of the original Honiton lace and white satin robe made for Queen Victoria’s eldest daughter. The godmother and godfather are likely to be Pippa and Harry, thus providing another opportunity for baseless speculation about a burgeoning relationship
19 NANNIES: Kate and William say they’re going to be hands-on, and don’t appear to have hired a nanny yet. However, given William’s work and their royal schedules, they won’t get away without help forever. So it’s likely they’ll turn to the elite Norland agency, which has provided nannies for the Royal Family and A-list celebrities since 1892. Norland nannies are taught how to cook, sew, hold a newborn and push a Silver Cross pram.
20 WHAT THE ROYAL BABY DID NEXT: And so to school. Those in the know think the new addition will have a very similar education to his/her parents. William attended Mrs Mynors Nursery School. William and Kate might choose the uber-fashionable Acorn Nursery (which famously turned down an application for Madonna’s son Rocco). A son might follow in his father’s footsteps, going to Wetherby Pre-Prep School, Ludgrove Boarding School and finally Eton, below. A girl might attend Wetherby’s sister school Pembridge Hall or Upton House Hall before going on to Marlborough College.