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Traditions surrounding a British royal birth



Prince William and his wife Kate may present themselves as modern parents but their third child will still be a senior royal as the fifth in line to the throne, and certain traditions must be respected.

– Once, the home secretary, Britain’s interior minister, would have been expected to witness births of potential heirs. Fortunately for Kate this tradition ended with the birth of the queen’s cousin, Princess Alexandra, in 1936.


READ: New son for Britain’s Prince William and Kate


– William was on hand for the first and second babies, and is making no exception for the third. Queen Victoria’s husband prince Albert; their son, the future king Edward VII, and William’s father Prince Charles all witnessed their wives giving birth.

– Queen Elizabeth II, senior royals and Kate’s parents, Michael and Carole Middleton, are expected to be the first to be informed of the birth.

– It will be made public in a tweet from Kensington Palace, Kate and William’s official residence in London, and in the traditional way, with a proclamation signed by royal doctors displayed on an ornate easel in the forecourt of Buckingham Palace.

– Cannon will be fired across London in celebration and the Union Flag will be flown from government buildings across Britain. The traditional 21-round gun salute has 20 more rounds if fired from a royal park or palace, and a further 21 from the Tower of London because of its location in the City of London.

– All births in England and Wales, regardless of parentage, must be registered within 42 days at the hospital or a local register office.

– Home Secretary Amber Rudd will notify the Lord Mayor of London, while the queen’s private secretary informs her governor-generals, her representatives in the 15 other Commonwealth realms where she is head of state.

– The baby’s name may not be revealed right away: William’s name was not announced for a week, while the world had to wait one month after his father Charles was born. George and Charlotte were named two days after their birth.

– The new baby will be a prince or princess of Cambridge and enjoy the prefix title of his or her royal highness (HRH).

 Lacy christening gown

– The prince or princess will be christened as a member of the Church of England, wearing a replica of the intricate lace and satin gown made for queen Victoria’s eldest daughter in 1841. Sixty-two royal babies wore the original.

– Charlotte was the seventh baby to wear the new robe, which like the original has a long skirt and elaborate collars and bow.

– George was baptised by the Archbishop of Canterbury in the Chapel Royal at St James’s Palace, with water from the River Jordan poured into the traditional silver Lily Font. Charlotte was christened in the same way at St Mary Magdalene Church at Sandringham, her great-grandmother Queen Elizabeth’s country estate in Norfolk, eastern England.

– Royal babies usually have around six godparents, people who agree to support the child, particularly in their faith. George has seven, while Charlotte has five.

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