Now that the Duchess of Cambridge is in the hospital, the countdown is on for what happens after the royal baby is born.
Though much has changed in the world since the baby's father, Prince William, 31, and his brother, Prince Harry, 28, were born, it remains true that whenever a royal heir is welcomed into the world, pomp, circumstance and tradition follow.
Click through to see what you can expect when it comes to the public's first glimpse of the baby, the formal birth announcement and more.
|How Will the Royals Announce the Baby's Birth?|
The world will learn of the baby's birth, and whether it's a boy or a girl, in the same way the births of generations of royals have been announced, with a note on the front gate of Buckingham Palace.
Once the baby is born, the medical staff that delivers the baby will sign an announcement that will be taken by car from the hospital to Buckingham Palace. Once the note arrives, a liveried footman will place the note in front of the palace on the same easel that was used to announce Prince William's birth 31 years ago.
The note will contain the baby's gender, weight and time of birth, but not necessarily its name. When Prince William was born, the note also included a few details about the young prince, namely that he "has blue eyes and cried lustily."
As modern-day royals, Kate and William will also utilize modern technology to announce their child's birth. The palace will send out an email to formally announce the birth, in addition to the traditional gate announcement.
"I also think they will utilize things like Twitter, social media and the website, as well," said ABC News' Royal Contributor Victoria Murphy.
|When Will the Public Get Its First Glimpse of the Royal Baby?|
Kate will follow the tradition of her mother-in-law, Princess Diana, and give birth at a hospital rather than the royal palace. What that means for the public is that the first chance to see the royal baby will come as soon as the duchess is discharged from the hospital.
Princess Diana left St. Mary's Hospital in London by the front door after giving birth to Prince William in 1982 and, two years later, his younger brother, Prince Harry. Kate, who was photographed carrying a bouquet of yellow flowers outside of King Edward VII Hospital in December when she was discharged after treatment for morning sickness, is expected to do the same.
The front door exit gives the royal family a chance to control the photo opportunity while making themselves visible and accessible to their subjects, royal experts say. Prince William, who plans to be in the delivery room with Kate during the birth, may also say a few words outside of the hospital with his family.
The baby will be born in the Lindo Wing of St. Mary's Hospital, just like his or her father. The family of three will then likely retreat to the comfort and privacy of their home at Kensington Palace. When Princess Diana gave birth to William in 1982, she left the hospital the day after his birth.
"If she has a straightforward natural birth, then there's absolutely no reason why she couldn't be out within a day," ABC News' Royal Contributor Victoria Murphy said of the duchess. "She will obviously have the option to stay for as long as she wants, but she'll have the best care wherever she's going back to."
|The Royal Christening|
When it comes to the traditional christening of their bouncing baby boy or girl, Kate and William have a choice. They can either go with the century-old tradition of holding the baptism ceremony in the Music Room of Buckingham Palace, or they can follow the lead of Princess Diana and Prince Charles and choose to baptize their baby in Windsor Castle's St. George's Chapel, as was done with Prince Harry.
Prince Harry's christening there in December 1984 marked the first royal christening in the chapel since 1889. His brother, Prince William, was christened in Buckingham Palace's Music Room by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Robert Runcie, who also christened Harry.
Regardless of location, the ceremony will in all likelihood be a small, private affair closed off to media and attended by the couple's close circle of family and friends. Prince William was baptized less than two months after his birth and Prince Harry at three months. The christening could take place as early as the end of July so the queen and Prince Philip could attend before departing for Balmoral estate in Scotland. If it is not held before the royal matriarchs leave, the christening could take place at Crathie Church, located just outside of Balmoral, royal experts said.
Prince William's christening in 1982 was an approximately 30-minute ceremony that included the traditional pouring of baptismal water over his head and calling for his parents and godparents to "bring up this child to fight against evil and follow Christ," according to reports at the time.
The ceremony, attended by the queen and other royals, was followed by a lunch featuring champagne and the christening cake, the top layer of William's parent's wedding cake. The young prince wore an 1841 christening robe made for Queen Victoria's son, the future Edward VII.
|Who Will Be the Royal Godparents?|
One of the most tradition-laden tasks for new parents Kate and William after the baby is born will be to name their child's godparents. It's something the soon-to-be parents likely began thinking about as soon as they found out Kate was pregnant, and they may have already decided.
Given the American public's fascination with the couple's siblings, William's younger brother, Prince Harry, and Kate's younger sister, Pippa Middleton, there is almost universal hope they will be named the baby's godparents. The pair stole the spotlight as best man and chief bridesmaid, respectively, at the couple's wedding in April 2011, and have been in the headlines almost as much as the married royals themselves ever since.
Not so fast, however, say royal experts. Following in the British royal tradition of having several godparents, the royal baby will have godparents outside of both the royal and familial circles. William himself has six godparents ranging from a former king of Greece to his father's cousin and close friends of both his mom, Princess Diana, and dad, Prince Charles.
William is already a godfather to children of his friends, including Grace van Cutsem, the then-3-year-old bridesmaid who angrily stood on the palace balcony with her hands over her ears after the royal wedding. One possibility outside the royal circle would be for a member of the van Cutsem family or the Straubenzee family, more close friends of William's, to be tapped as godparents to the heir.
"I'm pretty certain we'll see the godfathers and godmothers recruited from the same circles [as the wedding party]," said Robert Lacey, royal historian and author of "The Queen: A Life in Brief." "This will be a combination of royal relatives and friends of the couple's."