‘A Royal Baby, a Prince!’: Kate and William Welcome New Baby
Posted April 23, 2018 7:22 p.m. EDT
LONDON — Britain’s international image may have taken a beating over the past year, as the country proceeds with its stuttering exit from the European Union known as Brexit, but its unique asset was on full display Monday.
The royal family just keeps on delivering.
At 11:01 a.m., Kate, the duchess of Cambridge, gave birth to an 8-pound, 7-ounce boy, the third child for her and Prince William. William was present in the delivery room, and he later jumped in a sport utility vehicle and ferried his two younger children to the hospital to meet their newborn brother.
The news radiated out of the Lindo Ward and down South Wharf Road, where a cheerful, punchy crowd had swelled over the course of the day. A man dressed as a town crier, in knee breeches and a tricorn hat, appeared on the hospital steps, ringing a very large handbell.
“Oyez, oyez, oyez, we’ve got a royal baby, a prince!” he bellowed, and a small knot of royalists posted across the road, drinking sparkling wine out of plastic cups, responded in kind: “Hip hip hooray! Hip hip hooray! It’s a boy, born on St. George’s Day!”
It was testament to the enduring fascination with Britain’s royal family, invigorated in recent months by the pregnancy of the duchess and by the coming wedding of Prince Harry to Meghan Markle, an American actress.
“What this does for us as a country, the monarchy, this will push us through Brexit,” said Darren French, who had come out of a hospital ward, wearing slippers and flapping cotton pajamas, to watch the spectacle. A black cab was slowly circling the block, with a wax figure of Queen Elizabeth II seated in the back.
“A lot of countries respect our monarchy,” French added. “It makes us look solid. It makes us look staunch.”
Representatives of betting houses had been out on the sidewalk since morning with chalkboards, updating the odds on possible names for the baby. (Arthur led the male names, with 2-1 odds, and Alice led the girls’ names, 5-1.)
The baby’s birth came a week before Kate and William’s seventh wedding anniversary and, perhaps more important in the eyes of the English news media and public, occurred on St. George’s Day, named after England’s patron saint.
The couple’s first child, George, was born on July 22, 2013, and their second, Charlotte, on May 2, 2015.
The new child will be fifth in line for the throne, following Prince Charles, William, Prince George and Princess Charlotte, and before Harry. Changes to the Succession to the Crown Act in 2013 removed male bias, meaning that Charlotte is the first girl to go before her younger brother in the royal line of succession.
Kate gave birth in a familiar setting: the Lindo Wing is where Charlotte, George and several other members of the royal family were born. Its website notes, “Discretion is key to our service, and we will ensure that you have the space, security and privacy you need to enjoy these precious early moments as a family.”
Despite that promise, the street outside was mobbed with journalists, who were sorted by caste. The royal press corps, from major British outlets, had their own enclosure. They were dressed in trench coats and handsome suits, like intelligence agents. Farther down the road was the enclosure for unaccredited journalists, who were broadcasting live in a variety of Eastern European languages, and searching for nonjournalists to interview. They seized on the town crier who had proclaimed the child’s birth from the staircase, who turned out to be a man named Tony Appleton. He had taken the train in from Chelmsford for a second time on Monday morning, after a false alarm Saturday.
“Kate, don’t have any more, my nerves are shattered,” he said afterward.
Appleton expressed irritation that he had frequently been identified as an “unofficial” town crier, noting that he was the official town crier of his hometown, Great Baddow.
Among the rubberneckers were a large number of visitors from other monarchies.
Bushra Siddiqui, 42, who was there on her lunch break, said she admired the British royals for their accessibility. In Saudi Arabia, where she was born, the royal families live in total separation from the general public.
“We don’t find out when their babies are born,” she said. “We don’t know how many kids they have. We don’t know how many wives they have.”
But Yasin Ozyaprak, 21, from the Netherlands, said he liked the British royal family for the opposite reason, complaining that the Dutch royals are now so accessible that they have lost their mystique.
“I like the distance,” he said. “When the Dutch princesses go to school, they just ride bikes. If you see the king, you just go up and speak to him.” He said many of his friends at home shared his enthusiasm.
“My mom is just, like, Diana-obsessed,” he said. “I just FaceTimed her and she started crying.”
The longest vigil had been kept by Terry Hutt, an 82-year-old carpenter and joiner dressed in a suit made with a Union Jack pattern. He had been sleeping outside the hospital on a bench for 15 days, having received contradictory reports about the duchess of Cambridge’s due date.
He had brought a piggy bank as a gift for the baby.
Hutt, who also held a vigil outside Buckingham Palace when Charles was born in 1948, said he did not expect any more babies from this royal couple.
“Now it’s Harry’s turn,” he said.