LONDON – It is certain to be the most anticipated, most-reported birth of the year.
Sometime around mid-July, the Duchess of Cambridge – formerly known as Catherine Middleton – will give birth to a baby in line to be the future king – or queen – of England.
Kate made her final solo engagement last week in Southampton. Her final public appearance will be Sunday.
Plans are now in place for the royal birth, sources told ABC News. The baby is likely to be born at St. Mary’s Hospital in Paddington, here in London. That’s the same hospital where Diana gave birth to Prince William and Prince Harry.
The palace is being extremely careful in planning media coverage of the birth, trying hard to control what will inevitably be a circus, according to sources. The first announcement will only come after Kate has been admitted to the hospital in early stage of labor. The palace wants to avoid the media’s catching her being admitted while having contractions.
That will be followed by a second announcement: the birth. The public will only learn of the birth after the Queen and the Middleton family have been informed, according to royal protocol.
But in keeping with royal tradition, there will be an element of theater to it all. The birth announcement will be signed on official Buckingham Palace note paper and – with cameras rolling – it will be driven to the palace where a liveried footman will put it on an easel in the palace forecourt (the easel last used when Prince William was born.)
The birth announcement will include sex, weight and time of birth. There may a few additional literary flourishes. When William was born the announcement included the words “he has blue eyes and cried lustily.”
As for the name of the baby, it will be announced when the parents decide. Because royal babies have a long string of names, royal watchers are guessing a boy would have the names Charles and Philip and a girl would have the names Elizabeth and Diana.
The duke and duchess do not know the sex of their baby: They chose not to ask. Traditionally in England, a girl takes the throne only if she does not have brothers. It is called the rule of primogeniture and it dates back to the 1700s.
But the 16 nations of the Commonwealth have already agreed to amend those rules in a nod to changing times and changing attitudes.
That means that the baby – boy or girl – will be third in line to the throne. It could, however, be a long wait. The baby’s great-grandmother, Elizabeth II, is 87-years-old and in good health after 61 years as queen.
The baby’s grandfather, Prince Charles, 64, is next in line. Father Prince William will turn 31 June 21 and is second in line.