Parenting is difficult enough without a set of rules and regulations you must stick to following the baby's birth, but members of the Royal Family have 15 surprising traditions, and we bet Kate and William are so glad #5 has been scrapped.
Normally parents-to-be wait 12 weeks before announcing to family and friends that they are expecting a baby and then there is the dilemma of whether to find out if it's a boy or girl, but royal parents have a whole host of traditions that they must follow, and it can be quite exhausting.
Some traditions have been around for centuries while others have, thankfully, changed with the times. There are some trailblazers to thank, like Princess Anne who opted for hospital birth in 1977 when she had her firstborn child, Peter Phillips at St Mary's Hospital in London with most expecting royal mothers having followed suit since. Before hospital births, since the reign of Queen Victoria, home births were the norm.
And after grandparents say they learn more from their grandkids than their own children, we're glad that the royal family has scrapped one tradition altogether – that non-royal grandparents were often disregarded. This has changed with modern times. In the past, royal children were often prevented from having a close relationship with their maternal grandparents if they didn't descend from British royalty.
'In past centuries, British royalty often married foreign royalty, circumstances that frequently prevented royal children from having close relationships with their maternal grandparents. When monarchs of England or Scotland married members of the nobility, however, the queen consort's family were closely involved in the upbringing of the royal children,' according to reports by Royal Historian.
Nowadays Kate Middleton's parents Carole and Michael Middleton have been hands-on with the upbringing of their grandchildren Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis – and recently Carole and Pippa Middleton (Kate's sister) have rallied around to support them through their mum's absence. Kate is recovering at home from 'planned abdominal surgery'.
We look at some other royal baby traditions, some of which you might not have heard of before...
Royal baby traditions:
- At-home births
- A witness in the delivery room - The centuries-old tradition required someone to be present for the birth to confirm that the labour was actually happening. When Queen Elizabeth II was born in 1926, the home secretary carried out this role. It ended in 1948 before the birth of Prince Charles who is now King.
- Fathers were not allowed at the birth - Prince Charles' birth signalled the end of another tradition, that fathers were not allowed to be present in the delivery room for the birth, but this changed when Prince Philip was present for the birth of his son.
- Homeschooled - Today Kate Middleton is raising awareness over the importance of the early years but before Princess Diana broke royal protocol by sending Prince William to school, royal babies were homeschooled.
- Non-royal grandparents disregarded - nowadays non-royal grandparents are very much involved in their grandchildren's lives, and often speak about activities they like to do together, from decorating Christmas trees to baking.
- Birth announcement on an easel - up until the birth of Prince George, royal births were first announced on an easel outside Buckingham Palace, and before they were typed, the notes used to be handwritten with doctors at the hospital signing it and it was delivered to the palace by car. This seemingly changed in 2013 when the baby's arrival was first broadcast via email and Twitter (now known as X).
- 62-gun salute from the Tower of London when the baby is born and a 41-gun salute from Green Park - this marks the important announcement.
- The babies have three to four first names - for example, Prince George is George Alexander Louis.
- The babies don't need a surname - royal children are officially known by their first names, and only at school are they given a surname.
- An unofficial town crier announces the births - a medieval-time tradition that was introduced because the majority of townspeople in the country could not read or write.
- The Monarch must be one of the first people to be informed of the birth - Queen Elizabeth II was the last monarch to be told of a birth, and now the tradition transfers to King Charles.
- Breastfeeding used to be off limits - According to The Guardian, "Queen Victoria found the idea of breastfeeding repellent, considering it the 'ruin' of intellectual and refined young ladies." Today it remains a personal decision.
- Royal babies have their own pets - Prince William had a shetland pony when he was younger and now his children have dogs, first, there was black Cocker Spaniel Lupo, who sadly passed away and now they own Cocker Spaniel Orla.
- Christening gown has historical significance - the same gown has been worn for the past eight generations, it's a replica of the one used in 1841 during Queen Victoria's reign, with 62 babies having worn the garment.
- Royal babies have six godparents - however, traditionally family members are not chosen for the role.
In other royal news, 'The best parenting in the world cannot keep children safe’, Prince Harry and Meghan call for change to online child safety and King Charles expected to give his son Prince William this ultimate honour within the next 10 years to ‘complete the family circle’, expert reveals.
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Selina is a Senior Family Writer for GoodtoKnow and has more than 16 years years of experience. She specialises in royal family news, including the latest activities of Prince George, Charlotte, Louis, Archie and Lilibet. She also covers the latest government, health and charity advice for families. Selina graduated from the University of Sheffield in 2006 with a degree in Journalism, and gained her NCTJ and NCE qualifications. During her career, she’s also written for Woman, Woman's Own, Woman&Home, and Woman's Weekly as well as Heat magazine, Bang Showbiz - and the Scunthorpe Telegraph. When she's not covering family news, you can find her exploring new countryside walking routes, catching up with friends over good food, or making memories (including award-winning scarecrows!)
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