London, July 24
He is not even a day old but Britain’s Baby No 1, who spent Monday night bonding with his doting parents, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, was today preparing to undertake his first public duty -- meeting the world press.
The Prince of Cambridge, as the baby will be styled, is expected to leave hospital today, ready to be King of the UK in about 55 years from now, which will take him to the year 2068 if all goes according to plan.
His mum and dad are determined him to give him as normal a childhood as possible. At the very moment of his birth at 4.24pm on the hottest day of the year -- a temperature of 33.5C (92.3F) was recorded at Heathrow and Northolt in west London -- he automatically became third in line to the throne after his grandfather, Charles, the Prince of Wales, and his father, William, Duke of Cambridge.
The tiny tot, actually, he wasn’t that tiny since he weighed in at what Indians would call a “very healthy” 8lb 6oz -- will have several other jobs lined up for him, even while he learns to bang the rattle above his pram let alone play with Lego or his train set.
The baby boy is destined to become a future head of the armed forces, supreme governor of the Church of England and head of the Commonwealth, which covers 54 nations across the world, and subsequently head of state of 16 countries, notably Australia, New Zealand and Canada, across the globe.
Becoming head of the Commonwealth is less straightforward. The Queen has been doing the job for 60 years and pretty well, too, but there may have to be consultations before Charles is confirmed in the position. But the probability is that junior, too, acquires the responsibility assuming the same world groupings exist half a century from now.
At least, Kate got her wish -- she had wanted a boy while William’s preference was for a daughter. It should be broadcast all over India, that the one action that Kate and William did not undertake was visit a sex determination clinic. Apparently, they had no idea what the sex of their first born would be.
The Prime Minister David Cameron had changed the rules of succession so that the first born, boy or girl, would have been monarch one day.
Speaking before the birth, the PM had told BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour: “I can’t claim any role in this one, I’m afraid, except one small thing -- well, it’s a big thing actually, which is to get all of the heads of the realms over which our Queen is Queen, to agree that whatever the sex of the baby that Will and Kate have, if it’s a girl, it will be our Queen.”
Now, those constitutional changes are superfluous.
The new royal baby is the Queen’s third great-grandchild and the 43rd sovereign since William the Conqueror if, as expected, he follows reigns by Charles then William.
Kate’s sister, Pippa, best known for her shapely bottom, and Prince Harry, are tipped to be godparents.
To row back over the events of yesterday, it was pretty clear that things were happening when the Duchess of Cambridge, who was more than a week overdue, was admitted to hospital yesterday just before 6am.
All was in readiness in the private (and very expensive) Lindo wing of St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington (where Princess Diana had given birth to William and Harry in 1982 and 1984 respectively). Waiting for Kate was the medical team that included her consultants, the Queen’s surgeon-gynaecologist Marcus Setchell and his assistant, surgeon-gynaecologist to the Royal Household, Alan Farthing. The service was almost as good as that accorded to Bollywood stars when they check into the Lilavati Hospital in Bandra in between collecting lifetime achievement awards.
Accompanied by her husband, Kate, went in through a back entrance since an army of photographers, television cameramen and reporters from Britain and around the world had been camped outside the front door for some 10 days.
However, with so many prying eyes present, she was spotted by a snapper who tweeted his ‘world exclusive’ at 5.55 am and it seemed the ‘Great Kate Wait’ was into its final hours.
At 7.29 am, Kensington Palace issued a statement: “Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge has been admitted this morning to St Mary’s Hospital, Paddington, London, in the early stages of labour. The Duchess travelled by car from Kensington Palace to the Lindo Wing at St Mary’s Hospital with The Duke of Cambridge.”
After more than 10 hours of labour, the baby was born, apparently naturally, without having to be induced. With Kate -- or Catherine as she is now called -- was William.
But it would be another four hours before the official announcement came, not by having a proclamation pinned to the gates of Buckingham Palace, as has been the case with previous royal births, but via a press release from Kensington Palace.
The statement at 8.30pm confirmed: “Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cambridge was safely delivered of a son at 4.24 pm. The baby weighs 8lb 6oz. The Duke of Cambridge was present for the birth. The Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Harry and members of both families have been informed and are delighted with the news. Her Royal Highness and her child are both doing well and will remain in hospital overnight.”
Before ringing his father, grandmother and his younger brother Harry, William and Kate “bonded” with the baby -- it does seem in so far as it is possible, bonding will be the name of the game.
William then issued a one-line statement on behalf of himself and the new mother that summed everything up:”We could not be happier.”
A spokesman at Kensington Palace said, “The name of the baby will be announced in due course.”
First time grandfather Prince Charles said, “Both my wife and I are overjoyed at the arrival of my first grandchild. It is an incredibly special moment for William and Catherine and we are so thrilled for them on the birth of their baby boy. Grandparenthood is a unique moment in anyone’s life, as countless kind people have told me in recent months, so I am enormously proud and happy to be a grandfather for the first time and we are eagerly looking forward to seeing the baby in the near future.”
Since this is a Royal baby, it will have four or even five names, with speculation that George and James are a possibility.
Indian wits suggested that since William is said to have acquired Indian genes, one of those five names could be something desi “such as Narendra”.
It is not as though yesterday’s events were completely without an Indian angle. After the birth, the official proclamation, signed by the doctors in attendance, was brought out of the hospital by the couple’s press secretary, Ed Perkins, who handed the document to a waiting driver who sped with it across London to Buckingham Palace.
Full marks here to Ratan Tata and his boys at Tata Motors for ensuring the limousine that took the document across London and entered the forecourt of Buckingham Palace was an Indian-owned Jaguar.
The Queen’s press secretary Ailsa Anderson with Badar Azim, a footman, placed the official document on an easel in view of crowds waiting there. By selecting a non-white footman, Buckingham Palace was indicating it was going multicultural.
Normally, if tradition had been followed, this should have been the moment when news of the birth was first released to the joyous crowds waiting outside Buckingham Palace. But everyone realised that in the age of Twitter and social media, the news would leak from the hospital. Hence, the press release from Kensington Palace.
It is being suggested that Kate will take the baby to her mum and dad, Carole and Michael Middleton, at their home in the Berkshire village of Bucklebury rather than to Kensington Palace but that remains to be seen. William has taken paternity leave from his job flying RAF search and rescue helicopters.
Various celebrations were being held to mark the special occasion, including gun salutes across London. The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery and the Honourable Artillery Company carried the ceremonial salutes in honour of the new addition to the Royal Family.
Gun salutes are fired for the birth of every prince or princess, no matter where their place is within the line of succession, the Ministry of Defence said. The last royal salute for a birth was for Princess Eugenie in 1990.
The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery, wearing full dress uniform, rode past Buckingham Palace to Green Park where they staged a 41 royal gun salute.
The Honourable Artillery Company (HAC), the City of London’s Army Reserve Regiment, fired a 62-royal-gun salute from Gun Wharf at the Tower of London at 2 pm.
After all, William and Kate’s son is the first Prince of Cambridge to be born in more than 190 years.
US President Barack Obama said, “Michelle and I are so pleased to congratulate the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on the joyous occasion of the birth of their first child. We wish them all the happiness and blessings parenthood brings. The child enters the world at a time of promise and opportunity for our two nations. Given the special relationship between us, the American people are pleased to join with the people of the United Kingdom as they celebrate the birth of the young prince.”
At least, he got all the names right unlike the forgetful President Reagan who referred to Princess Diana during a White House Ball as “Princess David”.
Speaking outside 10 Downing Street, the Prime Minister said last night, “It is wonderful news from St Mary’s, Paddington, and I am sure that right across the country, and indeed right across the Commonwealth, people will be celebrating and wishing the royal couple well.
“It is an important moment in the life of our nation but I suppose above all, it is a wonderful moment for a warm and loving couple who have got a brand new baby boy.
“It has been a remarkable few years for our Royal Family -- a royal wedding that captured people’s hearts, that extraordinary and magnificent jubilee and now this royal birth -- all from a family that has given this nation so much incredible service.
“They can know that a proud nation is celebrating with a very proud and happy couple tonight.”
Since the baby was born at 4.24 pm on July 22 in London, Indian astrologers can now do their stuff.
One in England, Patrick Arundell, said the baby would have a “regal power” not simply because of his royal heritage, and would also possess a “very special aura”.
“The immediate stand-out feature which highlights regal power is that the Sun is located in Cancer, one of the cardinal, or leader signs of the zodiac,” he said.
Arundell said, “Leo has the star quality but Cancer is very powerful. These people don’t have to shout about their power. This will be a person who will understand very clearly the importance of family, of duty and of state.”
This story has ended happily for Prince William and Kate Middleton. In classic Indian style, they had a love marriage after a college romance. This began when they were students at St Andrew’s University in Scotland. Kate took so long to hook William that the press cruelly dubbed her “Waity Katy”. Frustrated, she even broke off the relationship and started being seen with other men in the hope this would make William jealous. The strategy worked. William chased her, took her on holiday to Africa, asked her to marry him against the backdrop of a setting sun -- and the rest, as they say, is history.
The requirement for royal wives is to produce “an heir and a spare” -- so Kate’s job is only half done.