It's A Royal Tradition To Do What Now?

A quick look at the more surprising royal traditions

The British royal family is all about tradition and we're so here for that. For example, we love that the royal babies are christened in a gown that dates back to 1841.

But some other royal baby traditions have been updated, revamped and even scrapped in recent times -- here's a quick look at the practices that stand (and a skim over those that have fallen by the wayside if indeed they really existed in the first place).

Royal babies have always been delivered at St Mary's Hospital

Verdict: false.

Traditionally royal babies were delivered at home in the royal residences. The Queen was born at her maternal grandfather's London house in 1926. Her three sons Charles, Andrew and Edward were all born at Buckingham Palace, while Princess Anne was delivered at Clarence House. Decades later, Princess Diana started her own tradition by choosing to give birth to both Prince William and Prince Harry at the Lindo Wing of St Mary's Hospital, London. The Duchess of Cambridge followed suit, now delivering all three of her children at St. Mary’s.

Fathers are forbidden in the delivery room

Verdict: false.

Some 50 years ago expectant royal dads were not allowed in the delivery room. When the Queen went into labour with Charles, Prince Philip distracted himself by playing squash and pacing about the Palace grounds. In a break with tradition, Prince Charles was present during the birth of both his sons. Prince William followed suit, attending the birth of all three of his children, a fact that was made very clear in the official Kensington Palace tweets.

A government official must witness the birth

Verdict: true(ish)

Until recently, government officials were required to witness the birth of a royal baby. This was to quash any pesky doubts about legitimacy-- switching newborns at birth was a concern. This explains why the home secretary was present during the Queen's birth -- though her father was not. That custom was put into retirement after her birth. The home secretary’s role in the birth nowadays is to pass on the happy news to other important government officials.

The Queen (then Princess Elizabeth) and Prince Charles on his first birthday in 1949. Image: Getty.
The Queen is the first to know

Verdict: true.

When a royal baby is born, the reigning monarch is the first to be informed officially. It’s believed that Prince William called the Queen on a secure phone line to inform her of his child's arrival, prior to the news being made public.

Announcing the birth on Twitter is a no-no

Verdict: false.

To this day, the news of a royal birth is announced in a written statement attached to the railings of Buckingham Palace. It displays information such as the time of delivery and the infant’s weight and gender (which is kept secret for the duration of the pregnancy) to eager onlookers. William and Kate have proven the royals’ ability to move with the times, however, opting to co-announce their happy news via Twitter.

The new bub must not be seen by the public until the christening

Verdict: false.

This one isn't true -- now. We've all cooed over gorgeous pics of Kate, Will and their darling newborns leaving the Lindo Wing at St Mary's Hospital. But posing for the press on the hospital steps wasn't always royal protocol. Princess Diana kicked off the custom in 1982 when she presented Prince William to the world with Prince Charles by her side. She did the same when Prince Harry was born two years later. Up until then,  though, the first public appearance of the royal baby would have been at the child's christening. 

Male heirs take precedence over female heirs

Verdict: true (until very recently).

Yes, males heirs to the throne did take precedence over females for over three hundred years. That was until the historic Succession to the Crown Act was introduced in April 2013, levelling the playing field for princes and princesses. The Act, which was passed in British parliament before Prince George's birth in July 2013, ensured that no matter if he were a boy or girl, he would still become third in line to the throne. Now, Prince George’s little sister, Princess Charlotte, two, will remain fourth in line for the throne, even though her younger sibling Louis is a boy. Girl power!

Diana and Charles leave St. Mary's Hospital with their newborn son, William, on June 21 1982. Image: Getty.
Official names are announced exactly seven days after birth

Verdict: false.

It’s up to the parents when the newest royal baby’s name is revealed. The delay from birth to name announcement has shortened considerably between generations. The Queen waited a month to share her son Charles’ name while Prince Charles and Diana left it just a week before announcing William’s name. Prince Harry’s name was shared the very same day. Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge released Prince George and Princess Charlotte’s names two days after their births. They then waited four days before baby number three's name was revealed as Louis Arthur.

Royal births don’t need to be formally registered

Verdict: false.

Even royal parents have to register their child’s birth. Just like regular citizens they must complete the registration with the government for public record within 42 days. The law’s the law -- even if you’re a Prince or Princess.

Every royal baby has worn the same christening gown

Verdict: true-ish

The 62 royal babies born since the mid nineteenth century have worn the same gown at their christening. Sort of. A little history ... The cream lace gown was made for Queen Victoria's eldest daughter, also called Victoria, in 1841. It was styled after her own wedding dress, and was made of Spitalfields lace with a Honiton lace overlay. The original gown was worn at royal christenings until 2004 but then it became too fragile for use.

The Queen's personal dresser Angela Kelly made a replica of the gown, which four-month-old Prince George sported at his christening in October, 2013, as did sister Charlotte two years later. If he wears it too, Louis, born in April 2018, will be babe number 63 to don the special garment.

Prince George wears the historic royal christening gown for his christening on October 23, 2013. Image: Getty.