Traditions surrounding a British royal birth

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge take the Kuniya Walk

Prince William and his wife Kate may be modern parents but their new child is a royal and certain traditions linked to the birth have to be respected.

– Once, the home secretary 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.

– William attended the labour the first time around and is expected to do so again. Queen Victoria’s husband Albert, her son, the future Edward VII, and Prince Charles all witnessed their wives give birth.

– Queen Elizabeth II, senior royals and Kate’s parents, the Middletons, will be first to be informed of the news.

– It will be made public first on the monarchy’s Twitter and Facebook feeds, then in the traditional way, with a proclamation signed by royal doctors displayed on an easel in the Buckingham Palace forecourt — the same easel used to announce George and William’s births.

– Cannons will be fired across London in celebration — 62 shots from the Tower of London and 41 from Green Park — and the Union Jack flag will be flown from government buildings across Britain.

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

– The home secretary will notify the Lord Mayor of London, while the queen’s private secretary informs governor generals overseas.

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

– The new baby will be a prince or a princess of Cambridge and will enjoy the title of his or her royal highness (HRH), but William and Kate can choose his or her surname.

– In the military, William used the surname Wales after his father, the Prince of Wales, but his children may also be called Cambridge, after his title, the duke of Cambridge.

– The baby 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.

– The original robe, which has a long skirt and elaborate collars and bow, was last used in 2004. To preserve it, a replica was commissioned from the queen’s dresser Angela Kelly.

– 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.

– Royal babies usually have around six godparents, people who agree to support the child particularly in their faith. George has seven, including Zara Tindall, William’s cousin.

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