Sometime in the next few days, an equerry’s mobile phone will ring in a distant corner of Kensington Palace.
On the other end of the line, Kate Middleton will utter into the mouthpiece the time-honored words of all new mums since time immemorial—“It’s coming”—and the Royal Baby 2 Birthing Plan will swing into action.
Stung by criticism of the disastrous handling of the press during the birth of Prince George, the palace vowed that this time it would be different.
In 2013, hundreds and eventually thousands of sunburned reporters, cameramen and curious members of the public congregated outside the private Lindo wing of St Mary’s Hospital in London’s Paddington.
Like a principle-free version of Occupy, the litter-dropping, tent-dwelling, urinating rabble formed an increasingly fetid, reeking morass during their three week stakeout of the hospital. The fact that it was one of the hottest London Julys on record didn’t help.
The problem was that Kate, supported by William, adamantly refused to tell palace courtiers and officials exactly when the baby was due, so the palace were forced to rather lamely tell the press it was likely to come “in July”.
This time round, Kate has been persuaded to be less precious and the palace have gently guided that the baby is due ‘towards the end of the month’ while a date of April 25th is now being widely touted by the press pack—although I am sticking to a very late 4 May prediction.
One thing that seems almost certain, however, is that no-one will see Kate slipping in the back door of the hospital as London snapper Niraj Tanna did last time round.
Any press or photographers lurking in the area are being sent away by police with a flea in their ear.
Kate will be coming directly from her home at Kensington Palace, but Prince William faces a two-hour drive to the hospital as he is to continue working as an air ambulance pilot outside London until the last minute.
If Kate is admitted during the night—after 10pm and before 8am—the news that she is in labor won’t be broadcast until 8am, when it will be disseminated to the world via official Twitter and Instagram accounts.
One thing we do know for certain is that the child, regardless of its sex, will become fourth in line to the throne after Charles, William and George, following a change in the law allowing a female heir to inherit.
As to when the birth of the child will be announced, it is very possible that it may be as much as 12 hours after the birth—and for this we can blame Prince Harry.
The birth of the child will not be generally announced before all senior royals, including Prince Harry, who is currently in Australia, which is 11 hours ahead of the UK, have been informed.
Will he be woken in the middle of the night so an announcement can be rushed out? Not a chance.
Kate and William do not know whether they are having a boy or a girl, sources say, so formal news of the birth and the baby’s gender will not be revealed until it is announced by the placing of the traditional notice of birth on an easel outside Buckingham Palace for well-wishers to see.
The notice will be driven from the hospital to the palace by a footman.
The palace say it has yet to be decided whether George, who turns two in July, will go to the hospital to meet his little brother or sister.
Kate’s medical team consists of some of the same key doctors who were present at George’s arrival, including Alan Farthing, the Queen’s surgeon-gynaecologist who has worked with the royal family since 2008, and assisted Kate at the start of her pregnancy when she was suffering with severe morning sickness.
The new family-of-four are expected to stay in their London base of Kensington Palace for a few days after the birth, and then travel to their country home in Norfolk.
William will be taking his full entitlement of two weeks paternity leave, the palace has announced.