Royal baby to have as normal a childhood as possible

Royal baby to have as normal a childhood as possible

When Kate, the duchess of Cambridge, appears on the steps of the central London hospital with her new baby - Britain's future monarch - it will be the beginning of a life spent in front of the cameras, dpa reported.

The weight of expectation is heavy and has been present since the moment the duchess and her husband, Prince William, were forced to announce her pregnancy early, after she was admitted to hospital in December with severe morning sickness.

But observers are united in their belief that William and Kate will try to give the child as normal an upbringing as possible, including being "very modern, hands-on" parents.

"The big changes came with William's generation," said former OK! magazine royal correspondent Marcia Moody, who published a biography of Kate this month.

"Up until William, the royal babies had always been born at home, for example Prince Charles was born at Buckingham Palace. But Diana wanted William to be born in hospital," she said.

Charles was the first royal father to attend the birth of his child - his father, Prince Philip, was famously playing squash while Queen Elizabeth II (then Princess Elizabeth) gave birth. Diana also bucked the trend by taking William on a royal tour to Australia when he was only nine months old.

"It was very unconventional but very popular with other mothers," said royal biographer Hugo Vickers. "The present queen was left alone for months when she was about a year old and her parents went on their trips to Australia and New Zealand."

Diana also broke the mould by insisting that her children go to school, rather than staying at home with a governess in their early years.

But whereas William did have a nanny straightaway, there is no sign that the duke and duchess have engaged one.

Unusually, they are expected to spend the first six weeks after the baby's birth at the home of Kate's parents, Carole and Michael Middleton, in the rural idyll of Bucklebury, outside London.

Much was made of Kate's non-aristocratic parentage when she got married in 2011, but William is widely said to value the stability and comfort of Middleton family life in comparison to his own upbringing.

"The Middletons will play a huge part in the baby's life," predicted Moody, adding that the Middletons gave Kate a "really great childhood."

William is also particularly keen to protect his child from a voracious media, according to Vickers, because he blames them for the death of his mother.

The prince was just 15 when Diana died in a car crash in Paris, as she was being chased by paparazzi across the city.

The intense media attention has been endured by generations of royals, according to Vickers.

"There used to be photos of Charles being wheeled out in his pram in the park," he said. "When the duke of Kent was born in 1935, people camped outside 3 Belgrave Square (in London) and his first emergence in public was splashed all over the newspapers."

But with the arrival of 24-hour rolling news, social media such as Facebook and Twitter, and long lens cameras, the royals have been forced to become more adept at handling the media, Vickers said.

Press officers still refuse to give running updates on the royals but have cooperated with the media by allowing them a certain measure of access.

For example, in order to reduce the value of a potential paparazzi photograph of Kate with her baby, an official portrait will be released in the weeks following the birth.

In turn - and especially after Diana's death - the British media have learned to show a degree of restraint. No British paper dared to publish the topless pictures of Kate that appeared in European media last year.

According to Vickers, journalists have even begun to enjoy the "Kremlin-like security net" which William throws around royal events, because "they realize they aren't going to be scooped."

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