It’s a boy! After eight months of speculation and a labour of 10 to 12 hours, at 8.30pm on Monday 22 July, the waiting was over when it was announced that the Duchess of Cambridge had given birth to a son four hours earlier.
There have been mutterings as to why the news took so long in coming and we can only suppose that checking the birth of mother and child and informing members of both families took a while.
Weighing a healthy eight pounds, six ounces, mother and son are said to be doing well. The child’s future subjects either flocking to Buckingham Palace to see the announcement of his birth or glued to the news on television for this moment of history.
The last few years with the Royal wedding, Diamond Jubilee and now the birth of the next heir to the throne have been happy ones for the Royal Family.
The institution was written off by many after a shaky few years in the 1990s, with several outpourings of love, thanks and affection, never more so than now as the Queen welcomes her third great-grandchild and eventual successor.
This is the first time since the last years of Queen Victoria’s reign that there has been the sovereign with three generations of direct heirs to the throne – incidentally that was a Queen with three generations of male heirs (her son, the future Edward VII, her grandson, the future George V and great-grandson, the future Edward VIII and later Duke of Windsor).
After all of the discussion about a change in the law to enable a first-born daughter to accede to the throne without being displaced by a younger brother, nature has taken its course and given the Royal couple a male heir.
He will, in due course, be King of not only the United Kingdom but also of Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the other realms in which the Queen currently reigns – where the news of his birth seems to be met with the same excitement.
That is not to say that the change in the laws of succession was not welcome but we will have to wait until this new baby is grown and has children of his own before the change in the law has any real effect.
The odds should always have been on a son, given that the Queen, Princess Margaret, Princess Anne, the Duchesses of Kent and Gloucester and Princess Alexandra all had boys as their first-born, as, of course, did William’s mother, the late Princess of Wales.
The Prince of Wales is said to be thrilled and delighted to be a first-time grandfather. He has, though been able to get in plenty of practice with his five step-grandchildren, one of whom, Laura Lopes, was one of the young bridesmaids at Prince William and Catherine’s wedding in 2011.
All that is left to speculate on now is the name of the child. The bookmaker’s favourite is now George. This is a true Windsor name with the Queen’s father reigning as George VI (although his actual first name was Albert), her grandfather was George V and the current Duke of Kent’s father was also called George.
There has also been speculation that the Prince of Wales, when he accedes as King, may follow his grandfather’s example and reign as George VII rather than Charles III, the regal name being the monarch’s prerogative. Whether he does choose to do so, we will have to wait and see.
My money would be on Philip, after the Duke of Edinburgh, which would be especially appropriate given Prince Philip’s recent ill health.
Other likely choices are Charles, after the Prince of Wales and Prince William’s uncle, Lord Spencer and John after the late Princess of Wales’s father. Names to honour the Duchess’s family include Michael (her father) and James (her brother).
Whatever the name of the child, he will formally be known as His Royal Highness Prince X of Cambridge, in the same way that his father was known as HRH Prince William of Wales until he was created Duke of Cambridge on his wedding day.
On a more personal note, I am especially pleased that the child was born on what would have been my late grandmother’s birthday – she was a great royalist herself – some of my collections of Royal books and memorabilia come from her. She would have been thrilled to see the birth of a new heir to the throne.