30 Royal Baby Traditions You Didn't Know Existed

Some of these are so bizarre.

royal birth

In case you somehow missed the news, Kate Middleton is pregnant and another royal baby is officially due this April. But this future prince or princess won't become a part of just any old family. Here are the (many) traditions, rules, and new customs this regal babe will have to follow.

royal baby name odds
The gender is never announced ahead of time.

Even after the development of sonograms in the '50s, the royals have never announced the baby's sex before the birth. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge even decided to keep it a surprise for themselves for their first two kids. In Queen Elizabeth II's case, the announcements didn't even address her pregnancy directly, simply stating she wouldn't take any engagements for the next few months.

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queen elizabeth, prince philip, and prince charles
Home births were the norm.

Queen Elizabeth had all four of her children in royal residences, and so did Queen Victoria. The royal mothers brought in their own doctors and midwives to set up makeshift maternity wards.

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lindo wing
Now they take place at the Lindo Wing.

Princess Diana modernized the birthing process by electing for the Lindo Wing of St Mary's Hospital instead. The Duchess of Cambridge followed in her footsteps for her first two children as well, but it's rumored she'd like a home birth the third time around — if she can get royal permission.

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midwife jacqueline dunkley-bent
A LOT of midwives and doctors participate.

During Princess Charlotte's birth, Professor Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent (pictured) and Arona Ahmed served as midwives. The team also included two obstetricians, three anesthesiologists, four surgical staff members, two special care staffers, four pediatricians, and a lab technician.

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queen victoria
The royals popularized obstetric anesthesia.

Queen Victoria (pictured with her baby great-grandson) reportedly hated being pregnant and used ether for at least two of her children's births, calling it "soothing, quieting, and delightful beyond measure." Her decision de-stigmatized the option, leading other ladies to request "Chloroform a la Reine." The Crown even depicted Queen Elizabeth receiving a dose of "twilight sleep" when she had Charles.

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home secretary william joynson-hicks
The births used to require a witness.

Before Prince Charles was born in 1948, the British home secretary customarily attended all of the royal births. The presence of a government official supposedly "verified" the event, but luckily the Queen did away with this practice and paved the way for greater privacy.

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queen elizabeth and prince philip with baby prince charles
Fathers weren't present for the delivery.

Prince Philip played squash during the birth of his firstborn, steering clear of the delivery room as per social norms at the time. However, Prince Albert reportedly bucked the trend and stayed with Queen Victoria for the birth of some of their nine children.

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kate middleton, prince william and prince george
Getty Images
Now they have to take paternity leave.

In 2003, the United Kingdom implemented a statutory paternity leave for all parents, royals included. Prince William took six weeks off from his former job as an air ambulance pilot following the birth of his daughter in 2015.

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queen elizabeth ii
The monarch must be notified first.

The Queen, senior members of the royal family, and the Middleton family reportedly got the first details on Princess Charlotte's birth before any news went out the public.

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buckingham palace birth announcement
Buckingham Palace posts a notice of the birth.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge obviously now release news on social media, but they still stick to the time-honored tradition of revealing details of the birth outside Buckingham Palace. The official announcement reveals the gender of the baby and the time of delivery.

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town crier
And a town crier announces it.

The unofficial duty involves announcing details to the crowds waiting outside, just like many hundreds of years ago. Back in Medieval England, town criers were the primary sources of information since many townspeople were illiterate.

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princess charlotte birth certificate
The royals have to register their births.

Just because they're regal doesn't mean they get to skip this step. Prince William filled out the form for Princess Charlotte, and he got a little creative with the fields. For his occupation, he wrote "Prince of the United Kingdom," an unofficial title but a very accurate one.

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royal baby name betting
The parents chose at least 3 names.

They don't skimp, that's for sure. Prince William and Prince Charles both have four, but they've pared it down for the latest generation: George Alexander Louis and Charlotte Elizabeth Diana. Every name the royals choose has a history to it as well, meaning bookies can put odds on handful of likely picks.

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prince charles birth certificate
They don't get a surname.

Even with all of those elaborate first names, the royals don't get a last one. Prince George instead goes by "George Cambridge" at school, similar to Prince William's "William Wales" moniker. Prince Charles and other male-line descendants of the Queen often use Mountbatten-Windsor when required.

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zara tindall birth
Descendants along the female line don't get titles.

According to the Letters Patent issued in 1917, only the grandchildren born to the sons of the Sovereign receive titles. That's why Zara and Peter Tindall, Princess Anne's children and the Queen's grandchildren, don't go by His or Her Royal Highness.

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baby princess charlotte
Except for daughters in the direct line.

The rules also dictated only the eldest son of the Prince of Wales's eldest son (a.k.a. Prince George) would receive an HRH and not other great-grandchildren, but the Queen amended that decree in 2012. The switch gave Princess Charlotte an official title, as well as any future siblings.

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prince george
Male heirs used to get preference.

Another recent update — 2013's Succession to the Crown Act — also removed the previous tradition of younger male heirs taking precedence over older sisters. That means Prince William's third child can't "bump" Princess Charlotte from her place in fourth, no matter the sex.

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queen elizabeth and newborn prince andrew
There's also an order of precedence.

Slightly different than the order of succession, this hierarchy of importance is used on formal and state occasions. It often follows proximity to the Queen in the family tree, until women get married. Then they take on their husbands' ranks instead.

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prince william receives baby gift
The royals receive tons of baby gifts.

They might already own everything they could possibly need, but that doesn't stop well-wishers from showering the family with gifts. Besides adorable tiny clothes and stuffed animals, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge also received a $45,0000 diamond-and-sapphire rattle for Charlotte's first birthday.

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tower of london gun salute
The Tower of London sets off a 62-gun salute.

This very specific number is chosen because a basic salute includes 21 rounds, but since the Tower is considered a Royal Palace and it's located within London, any addition 41 shots get added to the total. The whole shebang takes around 10 minutes.

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green park gun salute
Another park fires off 41 more guns.

Since Green Park is considered an official Royal Park, the King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery fires off 41 here, usually beginning around noon. Gun salutes also mark other important occasions, like the Queen's birthday and the State Opening of Parliament.

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london bridge lit up pink
Landmarks light up in honor of the birth.

Other spots in the city have recently joined in on the fun, with places like Tower Bridge, the London Eye, and Trafalgar Square illuminated either blue (for Prince George) or pink (for Princess Charlotte) — and they don't just do that for any ol' baby.

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prince harry birth
The baby appears in public almost immediately.

In Princess Charlotte's case, her proud parents showed her off to the crowds outside less than 10 hours after the birth. Princess Diana also established this practice of standing outside of the Lindo Wing for photos in her time. The Queen used to take her newborns out on the balcony of Buckingham Palace.

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archbishop of canterbury royal christening
The Archbishop of Canterbury baptizes the baby.

The christening is often the next time the public can catch a glimpse of the little one. While they've taken place in various churches and chapels, it's the Archbishop of Canterbury — the most senior bishop in the Church of England — who always has the honors of performing the rite.

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prince george christening
The christenings use a special water.

The royal siblings also get another exclusive privilege. The Archbishop of Canterbury uses water from the River Jordan for the ceremony, as its the believed location of Jesus's baptism by Saint John.

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princess charlotte christening
They also use a special christening gown.

Originally commissioned by Queen Victoria for her oldest daughter, around 60 different babies wore the historic garment from 1841 until 2008, when James Viscount Severn broke in a carefully created replica. Both Prince George and Princess Charlotte have now worn the reproduced dress made of Honiton lace.

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lily font
And always the same bowl.

Queen Victoria also had the ornate Lily Font created for the baptism of her first child. The circa-1840 silver-gilt bowl takes on the form of an expanded flower, with three cherubs seated at the base. All of the Queen's children and grandchildren were baptized with this unique piece, with the exception of Princess Eugenie.

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laura fellowes
A lot of godparents attend.

The chosen adults often represent both sides of the family. Prince William's cousin Laura Fellowes (pictured) was one of Princess Charlotte's five official godparents, while Prince George had seven.

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prince george in australia
Babies can now go on tour right away.

Back in the Queen's days as a young mother, she left Prince Charles at home when she embarked on a six-month tour. However, Princess Diana took Prince Harry overseas just year after his birth, and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge brought their 9-month-old son with them to Australia.

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prince charles nanny
Nannies do a lot of caretaking.

That said, even modern royals still rely on caretakers a lot of the time, including Kate's nanny Maria Borrallo. While the public doesn't hear much about them, the demanding appearance and travel schedule of a royal necessitates that they get a little back-up. One thing that has changed: Both Diana and Kate have later sent their children to nursery schools, unlike Prince Charles's upbringing (pictured).

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