Kate Middleton, Prince William and St. James's Palace are revealing quite a bit about their royal baby preparations.
It's a welcome change from the secrecy normally cloaking the royals. The palace has been much more forthcoming with some details ever since the announcement of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's engagement in November 2010. Royal watchers have said this is quite a departure for the family, which was once viewed as aloof and cold after the death of William's beloved mother, Princess Diana.
The palace had to confirm last December that Middleton, now called Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, was expecting because she was hospitalized for severe morning sickness. Interest has naturally been piqued since then.
So, without further ado, here's what to expect while the Duke and Duchess are expecting:
1. The baby is due sometime in mid-July and the ever-stylish Duchess Catherine, 31, will be keeping a low profile in her final weeks of pregnancy. That means no more godmothering cruise ships and all that fanfare.
2. No word on the child's gender, and that's not because they're being secretive but because they haven't found out yet. Either way, the child will be third in line for the British throne after Prince Charles and Prince William.
"They don't know the sex of the baby and have decided not to find out," an anonymous royal official told the Associated Press.
3. Prince William, 30, will be taking two weeks off work for paternity leave. He'll then return to the Royal Air Force, where he flies a search and rescue helicopter.
4. He also plans to be in the delivery room with his wife, not pacing the halls of the private Lindo Wing of St. Mary's hospital in central London. (P.S. That's the same hospital where he and younger brother Prince Harry were born.)
5. Some birth vitals will be announced immediately, but probably not the royal baby's name. The royals plan to use a combination of traditional media and newer social media to make the announcement.
"Officials said a royal aide will emerge from the hospital with a signed bulletin on foolscap-sized paper carrying the Buckingham Palace letterhead. The bulletin will be given to an official who will be driven to the Palace, where it will be posted on an easel in public view in front of the building. At the same time the bulletin is posted, there will be an announcement on Twitter and the media will be formally notified. The document will give the baby's gender, weight and time of birth," the AP reported.
The public will be notified only after the duchess has settled into her hospital room. No advance notice will be given.
As for the name, well, it took a week to announce William's name, so it won't be too surprising if we don't find out right away.
6. Only family will get to visit. Royals and Middleton's family are obviously the most likely to visit. But Queen Elizabeth II, 87, won't be visiting her great-grandchild until she returns from her summer vacation at the Balmoral estate in Scotland.
7. The tot is expected to boost Britain's economy. An estimated $380 million is expected to funnel in with the sale of souvenirs and other memorabilia related to the baby's birth, according to a report by the Centre for Retail Research in Nottingham, England, the Times travel and deals blog reports.
Seems like quite the baby boom, if you ask us.
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