Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be a royal? It turns out they have some weird rules about pregnancy, birth, and babies.
Though many of us spend countless hours thinking of names for our future children, how we want our baby shower, and whether or not we want a gender reveal party, British royal women have to follow strict rules compared to how we celebrate giving birth in the United States.
Queen Victoria Popularized Obstetric Anesthesia
Queen Victoria has been considered a trend-setter for a long time for popularizing the white wedding dress, but it’s not the only trend she started. She also popularized obstetric anesthesia by using ether to calm herself while birthing her last two children. She called it "soothing, calming, and delightful beyond measure." She helped destigmatize and popularize women using medical technology to ease the pain during birth, but society has come a long way since Queen Victoria’s days. Today, many women opt for an epidural during childbirth.
The Queen Finds Out First
After the baby is born, the Queen finds out before any other family members. Other members of the royal family find out about the baby before the birth is announced to the public, but it’s royal protocol that the Queen is the first to hear the good news. When Prince George was born in 2013, Prince William “called Elizabeth II on an encrypted phone to tell her the good news."
It's royal protocol that the Queen is the first to hear the good news.
The Gender Is Never Revealed
Gender reveal parties are very popular in the United States, but they’re a no-no for British royals. Royal couples are encouraged to not find out the gender of the baby before they give birth, so it’s as much of a surprise to the public as it is to them. The baby’s gender is publicly announced on an easel outside Buckingham Palace and by the unofficial town crier outside of the hospital.
The royals also announce the birth and gender of the baby on social media, but the easel and town crier is so much more fun and traditional.
No Baby Showers
Remember when Meghan Markle had a baby shower before her son Archie was born, and it was considered a scandal? That’s because royals aren't allowed to have baby showers. Though baby showers are very popular in Meghan’s home country of the United States, they’re not very common in Britain. Friends and family members can still buy the royal baby gifts, but there’s no formal event to celebrate it.
The Baby Debut
Princess Diana gave birth to both William and Harry in the Lindo Wing at St. Mary’s Hospital Paddington in London, and both Kate and Meghan gave birth to their children there as well. Both Diana and Kate presented their babies to the public outside of the hospital a few hours after the birth. Meghan decided to go a different route and presented her son, Archie, two days after his birth.
Royal Baby Names
Royal babies are not only given one first name and two or three middle names, but the names have to mean something to the royal family. The most obvious example of this is Princess Charlotte, whose full name is Charlotte Elizabeth Diana. She is named after her paternal grandparents (Prince Charles and Princess Diana) and one of her paternal great-grandmothers (Queen Elizabeth II). The royal family also gives their children several names to honor the family members who came before them.
When a royal inherits the throne, they can choose to go by either their first or one of their middle names.
When a royal inherits the throne, they can choose to go by one of these three names. Though Queen Elizabeth II (born Elizabeth Alexandra Mary) kept her first name, her father and predecessor was born Albert Frederick Arthur George and went by King George VI. When Prince Charles (born Charles Philip Arthur George) inherits the throne, he will have four options for his title: King Charles III, King Philip I, King Arthur I, or King George VII.
The name is also kept secret for a few days, as the official announcement from Buckingham Palace only announces the baby’s gender. The royal couple waits a few days before announcing the name of the baby.
There’s a Strict Dress Code
We’ve all heard of the strict dress code that royals have to follow, and youngsters are not spared from the rigid rules. Have you ever wondered why little George and Louis are always wearing shorts, even in the dead of winter? It’s a tradition for young English boys in the upper class to wear shorts year-round.
Etiquette expert William Hanson says, "It's a very English thing to dress a young boy in shorts. Trousers are for older boys and men, whereas shorts on young boys is one of those silent class markers that we have in England. Although times are (slowly) changing, a pair of trousers on a young boy is considered quite middle class – quite suburban. And no self-respecting aristo or royal would want to be considered suburban. Even the Duchess of Cambridge."
Princess Charlotte has to follow a dress code as well. She can only wear dresses or skirts in public, as royal expert Marlene Koenig says, "If you look at photos of young royal girls – from Princess Anne to Charlotte, you will notice that they tend to wear smocked dresses as little girls when they are in public with their parents."
Turns out being a royal isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Though you get your fairytale prince, there are many more rules you must follow than in the average fairytale.