Raising a royal baby just isn’t what it used to be.
From the birth announcement to the heir’s education, the British monarchy has softened its stiff upper lip and loosened the guidelines when it comes to raising a royal baby.
British historian Robert Lacey explains that beginning with the birth announcement, tradition has been tweaked.
“A little notice gets put out, attached to the railings [of Buckingham Palace] and that is the place, and that has been for decades. … The new … call for announcing the birth will be the use of Twitter. The palace there has its own Twitter account, it has Facebook, so it will be going out on the new social media.”
Even the delivery itself has evolved over the years. Buckingham Palace used to double as a birthing room.
“The last heir to the throne to be born in Buckingham Palace was Prince Charles. A room was set up in the palace like a hospital ward that was where his mother, the present queen, gave birth in 1948. Prince Philip was not present at the birth. He was down playing squash in the palace squash courts.”
Unlike Prince Philip, Prince William, Lacey expects, will be present and in the room for the newborn’s arrival.
“Now another difference is that a new baby will not be born here [at Buckingham Palace]. Diana and Prince Charles decided they wanted their baby that was Prince William and later Harry born in a proper hospital”
Snapping those first baby pictures has changed, too. Tradition used to call for a special studio to be set up inside the palace to capture those first moments.
“When it comes to pictures of the royal baby, in the past there has been a studio set up in the palace.
Diana broke away from that sort of thing. She was perfectly happy to appear on the steps of the hospital like anyone else, and I think we’re going to see the same with Catherine the Duchess of Cambridge”
Rearing a royal, has changed, too.
” Traditionally, heirs to the throne have been brought up inside the palace. For example, the present queen had most of her lessons here [at Buckingham Palace] or in Windsor Castle. She never went to a school. … The queen and Prince Philip wanted to break away from that, so they started the change in tradition of getting the royal heir educated out in public — sort of public — British public schools, which are private.”
But perhaps the biggest change of all is the line of succession. Traditionally, male children were first to receive the throne, regardless of birth order. But parliament is changing all that.
“Until now, the law favored the male in the line, and so if the baby were a girl, it would only succeed if there were no brothers. Now the law is being changed. The plan is that whether the baby is a boy or girl, that baby will be the heir in keeping with modern conquests of equality.”
A conquest for equality, just one of the changes that will no doubt capture the world’s attention.
“We’re fascinated by this birth. I think what we’re fascinated about is the tradition, the way it has always been done, and the way the new parents will tweak it to reflect their own personality, and what they want for their new baby in the new century.”