The announcement Monday that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are expecting a child sent a thrill of excitement through Britain — and particularly through the British press. But what can the child itself expect? Based on the experiences of his or her relatives, NewsFeed has provided the future monarch with a step-by-step guide to the major stages of a royal life.
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Princess Diana bucked the Royal Family trend by being the first to give birth to a future monarch in a hospital. (The current Queen, Elizabeth II, was born in a Mayfair townhouse; Prince Charles entered the world, fittingly, in Buckingham Palace.) Diana chose St. Mary’s Hospital in Paddington for the births of both William and Harry. Kate may do the same. Prince William will probably be at her side, unlike his grandfather the Duke of Ediburgh, who was enjoying a game of squash when Queen Elizabeth gave birth to Charles.
Britain’s bookmakers seem to be putting their money on Elizabeth if it’s a girl, but Victoria could also be in the mix: Queen Victoria expressly asked that all her female descendant include the name Victoria somewhere (though her orders haven’t always been carried out). If it’s a boy, expect something conventional from this very conventional couple. There will be no “Dashiell” or “Hashtag” here; the most likely choices, according to Ladbrokes, are John, Charles, James and Philip.
William’s grandmother is, after all, the head of the Anglican Church, so there’s little doubt his baby will be baptized ASAP. Prince Harry was blessed in the St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle by the Archbishop of Canterbury — the first royal christening there since 1889. But as a future monarch, William got the full treatment in the Music Room of Buckingham Palace, the traditional location for royal baptisms. At the time, William wore a lace and silk christening robe made in 1841 for Queen Victoria’s son, the future Edward VII. As the Archbishop of Canterbury blessed him using a silver gilt lily font (which has been used to pour water over all baby British monarchs since 1841), the choristers of the Chapels Royal offered up hyms. Expect much of the same for Kate and Wills’ baby.
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At the moment, William and Kate live in a fairly modest home in Anglesey, Wales. With Kate now pregnant, however, William could soon leave his job as an RAF search and rescue pilot. The couple will reportedly move to an apartment in Kensington Palace in London next fall.
William and Kate seem like they’ll be hands-on parents, but they’ll likely hire help as well. William and Harry had good relationships with their nannies: Olga Powell, whose funeral William attended this year, cared for the princes for 15 years and helped them through their mother’s death. Tiggy Legge-Bourke looked after them when they were in their father’s care after their parents’ separation in 1993. She was popular with the princes for her laissez-faire spirit, although their mother, Diana, objected to her smoking in front of the boys. In any case, the experience of William and Kate’s child will likely be vastly different from that of Queen Elizabeth II, whose strict carers only allowed her to play with one toy at a time in her nursery.
Expect to see Kate and William’s baby out and about with them on official trips. This was unheard of in previous eras, but Diana broke the ice by carting 9-month-old William with her on a trip to Australia and New Zealand. Almost everyone in the royal family is mad about horses, so there’s no doubt Kate and Wills’ child will learn to ride when he or she is a bit older — William and Harry began learning at age 4. The child will probably also pick up the other stock aristocratic pursuit: hunting game. If they’re of a more artistic disposition, they may take up painting like their grandfather Charles or photography like their mother Kate.
While most of Britain’s future rulers throughout history were educated by private tutors, William and Harry began attending a London Montessori nursery at age 3. The two were the first members of the royal family to leave Buckingham Palace for preschool, and they continued on from there, attending the pre-preparatory Wetherby School in London before heading to the prep school Ludgrove in Berkshire. For high school, they might have gone to the Scottish boarding academy Gourdonstoun, attended by their father, grandfather, two uncles and two cousins. Instead, they attended Eton, the famed boys boarding school in Windsor, where Princess Diana’s brother and father went. If the baby is a boy, he’ll be likely to follow a similar path. If it’s a girl, there is always the option of the prestigious Malborough College for high school, attended by her mother and Princess Eugenie.
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There will be perks – the child will likely receive his or her own coat of arms as an 18th birthday present, just as Princes William and Harry did. But the royal duties may start early. William’s first official engagement came in 1991 at the age of 9, when he greeted crowds outside a cathedral in Wales; Harry made an appearance at age 10, saluting officers in a military parade to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Victory over Japan day.
The house of Windsor is not exactly renowned as a stable of raging intellectuals. While Prince Charles received a bachelors degree from Trinity College, Cambridge, the days of automatic acceptance to Oxford and Cambridge for the scions of aristocratic families are long over — meaning any modern royal children will to some extent have to earn their way in. Other options include St. Andrews, the alma mater of both William and Kate, where the royal offspring could follow in the footsteps of many other English aristos by studying the History of Art. Alternatively, he or she could imitate uncle Harry and go straight to the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst.
Choices of suitable employment for a monarch in waiting are slim, although William did manage to get some real-world experience with an internship at HSBC bank. Most royal men serve in the military, a pathway which always remains an option. For a young modern female royal, however, the trail is there to be blazed. So far, the record is not promising. Sarah, Duchess of York (she of Weight Watchers spokesmanship) and Sophie, the Countess of Wessex (wife of Prince Edward) have both been caught up in embarrassing career kerfuffles. Meanwhile, Prince William’s cousin Beatrice has been regularly pilloried in the press for her apparent reluctance to find a job (this summer, she landed a position with a financial firm). Ultimately, of course, there is only one career destination for this child: the throne. Unless, of course, he or she abdicates to marry a American divorcé. But how many times can that happen?