Giving birth at home was the norm
The future queen, Elizabeth II, was born at 2:40 am on April 21, 1926, at 17 Bruton Street in Mayfair, the London home of her maternal grandparents, the Earl and Countess of Strathmore.
She lived during a time when childbirth would take place at home.
When it came to medicine, royals weren’t usually allowed anaesthetics. But this changed with Queen Victoria in 1853, who wasn’t one to shy away from testing the rules. She was administered a form of drug called chloroform to lessen the pain when delivering both her sons.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
A natural birth isn't always necessary
The then Princess Elizabeth gave birth to Prince Charles not long before becoming Queen of England. Born at Buckingham Palace, Elizabeth was reportedly in labour for a whopping 30 hours, ending in a caesarean section.
Notably, Prince Phillip was not present at the time, instead it is understood he was playing squash in another part of the palace. But upon hearing of his first child’s birth, he ran up to where Elizabeth and Charles were, declaring his new son’s physique as similar to that of a “plum pudding”.
Elizabeth opted for a ‘home birth’ for all four of her children, who arrived safely at Buckingham Palace. But that was all about to change for the next generation of royals..
The birth of a royal used to have to be verified
Charles’s birth in 1948 was the first royal birth not attended by the British Home Secretary, who in earlier times was required to be present to witness and verify the births of royal children.
Elizabeth also opted for a ‘home birth’ for all four of her children, who arrived safely at Buckingham Palace. But that was all about to change for the next generation of royals…
Princess Diana broke tradition by giving birth in a hospital
When Charles and Princess Diana announced the arrival of their first child and future King of England, Prince William, the world watched with eagle eyes. Departing from the home birth tradition, Diana’s choice to give birth at St Mary’s Lindo Wing in London provided the ultimate spectacle.
It is understood that Princess Diana was induced for the birth of Prince William due to the widespread interest and scrutiny she was under.
Unlike his father, Prince Charles was present at the birth of his first son, describing the scenes outside the hospital as “berserk with excitement”.
Duchess Catherine continued the royal baby photo call
In 2013, Duchess Catherine and Prince William followed in the late Princess’s footsteps, introducing their royal baby to the world at St Mary’s Lindo Wing, shortly followed by a photo call outside the front doors. Kate even wore a polka dot ensemble, much like the one Diana wore when introducing a young William.
During the birth, it is understood no less than 20 medical professionals were involved, including midwives, surgical staff, a paediatrician and anesthetists. No small production here!
Princess Charlotte’s birth in 2015 followed suit – although it was reported that Kate didn’t receive an epidural before welcoming her first daughter.
In 2018, Kate and Wills welcomed their third child, Prince Louis – and this time, they had the system so well down-pat that they were up and out of the Lindo Wing just hours after welcoming the new young Prince.
No word yet on Meghan's birth
Will all this change with the arrival of Baby Sussex?
The royal palace would not confirm where the baby was delivered but said Harry was by his wife’s side during Baby Sussex’s birth on May 6.
An emotional Prince Harry told reporters afterward that “mother and baby are doing incredibly well.”
We’re sure we’ll find out more details about Baby Sussex’s arrival in the coming days but Megs and Harry have never been a couple who like to do things by the book, so the birth of her first child is expected to be an occasion that bucks royal tradition and paves the way for a new, modern way of doing things.
(Text: Jess Pullar, bauersyndication.com.au / Additional reporting: Natalya Molok)