Princess Diana was popularly known as the People’s Princess, not because it was such a catchy nickname, but because they found her relatable in every way. From the way she behaved towards them to the way she parented her kids, many people tried to follow in her footsteps.
King, Queen, prince and princess, the royal babies…are all obviously the character you’ve heard of only in fairy tales- except of course the beloved British royal family. Though Princess Kate Middleton is the current royal favorite and Meghan Markle waiting on the aisle to don her princess mantle, we do seem to be overrun with princesses at the moment. Now let’s not forget the adorable little princess Charlotte. Of all the princesses in the world, none was more beloved by the whole world as Princess Diana.
Stunningly beautiful as a princess should be, regally poised to handle herself in any situation, Princess Diana was an inspiration for many. To this day, her sons talk of her with love and admiration. When you marry into a royal family, you take on all the pomp and splendor that comes with it. There are royal traditions you are expected to follow and obviously, the whole world is watching your every step. Princess Diana had to follow many rules when she became pregnant with her babies. Some rules, she followed religiously while she was the first to break many of the traditions that the royals followed for centuries.
She was the first royal to give birth in a hospital and not at the Buckingham Palace. She chose the names William and Harry herself while Prince Charles wanted to name them Albert and Arthur. I said no. Too old!” Diana told author Andrew Morton in the 1992 book Diana: Her True Story. So now, let’s take a look at what traditions Princess Diana actually had to follow when she had her babies.
16PREGNANCY CAN ONLY BE ANNOUNCED AFTER THE 12TH WEEK
However overjoyed you are to discover that you are finally pregnant and you want to shout it out from the rooftops, you have to wait for at least 12 weeks before making your announcement. Royal custom dictates that announcements regarding new additions to the family are permitted only after 12 weeks.
The britishroyals.info website reveals that “On November 5, 1981, Diana’s first pregnancy was officially announced, and she openly discussed it with members of the press.” Now let’s take a look at how the royals before and after Diana made their pregnancy announcements.
According to the Vogue, “In 1948, the British media received a statement from Buckingham Palace: The Queen, then Princess Elizabeth, would “undertake no public engagements after the end of June.” The message was cryptic, but the subtext wasn’t: She was pregnant, and this was “official” confirmation.
Though Diana did follow the tradition, according to brightside.me, Kate Middleton had to break the rule due to severe toxicosis during her pregnancy. Kate’s absence at several official events was noticeable and so the royal family had to reveal the truth about her pregnant state earlier than planned. The Vogue revealed that “on September 2017, Kensington Palace tweeted to millions: “The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are very pleased to announce that the Duchess of Cambridge is expecting their third child.”
15THE BABY’S GENDER SHOULD BE KEPT UNDER WRAPS
According to babycentre.co.uk, the above picture was taken in 1982 when Princess Diana was pregnant with her first child. In the British royal family, it is strictly forbidden to announce the gender of a baby before he or she is born.
If there’s one thing that the royal family loves to do, it’s keeping the public in suspense. Despite being such a high profile birth, a lot of secrets about the new royal babies are kept a secret from the public. The due date remains a mystery until the last minute. even if the royal couple knows the gender of their unborn child, it will not be revealed to the public till the child is actually born.
Despite all the modern technological equipment, it is rumored that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge chose not to uncover the secret for themselves. They waited till the child was born, to discover it for themselves. There is, after all, a certain sweetness in that wait and the final revelation of wonderful gift – a girl or a boy.
According to the express.co.uk, Princess Diana actually knew that she was having boys, both the times. But she successfully kept it a secret as is the royal tradition. Theinfo.ng revealed that “Kate actually dropped a major hint that she would be having a girl, and it was seen as a pretty big deal. There were even rumors that she would be punished by the Queen for this little indiscretion, but it probably wasn’t that big of a deal. It’s also worth noting that traditionally, royal families have a huge preference for boys, although this has stopped more recently. That might have something to do with the tradition of keeping the baby’s gender secret.”
14HOME BIRTH IS A ROYAL TRADITION
Queen Elizabeth, as well as Queen Victoria, gave birth to all their children at their royal residences. Makeshift maternity wards with the most experienced doctors and midwives are set up in the royal palaces to make the homebirths as safe and comfortable as possible. Queen Elizabeth II was born at a private family home in London. But she gave birth to her sons Charles, Andrew, and Edward at the Buckingham Palace.
Princess Diana refused to follow this royal tradition. She was the first royal princess to buck the trend and insist she wanted to have her babies at a hospital.
According to britishroyals.info, “On June 21, 1982, at St. Mary’s Hospital, after 16 hours of labor, Diana gave birth to her first son, Prince William. He was the first heir to the British throne to be born in a hospital. William was an induced delivery – scheduled around Prince Charles’ summer polo diary. He was the first British heir to be born in a hospital.” Prince Harry was born in the same room at St. Mary’s Hospital as William.
Princess Diana was indeed a trailblazer for her kind and paved the way for Kate Middleton to have her kids at the same hospital St. Mary’s Hospital and even in the same wing. While Buckingham Palace did reveal the month that she’s expected to give birth, they never reveal if it’s in the beginning or towards the end of the month. Considering the tremendous media interest in royal pregnancies, none wants the paparazzi hanging outside the labor room before or on the due date.
13MUST GIVE BIRTH TO AT LEAST 2 CHILDREN
According to royal tradition, Diana had to ensure that an heir to the throne was born within a year and a half of her marriage. Whether she wanted it or not, she had to have at least 2 children. These two children are informally known as “an heir and a spare.” As is obvious he spares is the second child that will inherit in case the first one does not.
Well! We all know that she did fulfill her part of the bargain by giving birth to Prince William in 1982 and Prince Harry in 1984. Brightside.me reported that most royal families to date have had only 2 children. Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh are the only couples who decided to have more. But now Prince William and Kate have three children. With Princess Charlotte, Prince George and now the latest addition to the family of Prince Louis, the royal family is an adorable lot.
The britishroyals.info reported that “Diana fulfilled her royal obligation of producing an heir and a spare. Prince Harry was born on September 15, 1984, after 9 hours of labor. Although their marriage had already started hitting rocky patches, Diana considered her pregnancy time with Harry among their happiest as a couple. Charles had hoped for a girl but was nevertheless pleased with Harry. He quickly noted the Spencer red hair.”
12NO MEN ALLOWED IN THE DELIVERY ROOM
Royal tradition mandated that men, even the father of the child, had no place in the delivery room. This was especially followed for all the home births at royal residences. According to the Express, Prince Philip was reportedly played squash during the birth of Prince Charles. Probably his way of doing an activity to handle the anticipation and keep the stress at bay. A more common sight we traditionally saw, were the men pacing up and down the hospital corridor outside the labor room in hospitals.
Our proud warrior princess fought against this rule too. According to townandcountrymag.com,
“Princess Diana was the first woman to break the rule of home childbirth. The birth of Prince William was also the first time a royal father was present in the delivery room, before Prince Charles’ presence, the delivery room had to be all-female.”
The Express reported that midwives are always present at royal births. Kate Middleton is said to have had three midwives with her on the day she gave birth to Charlotte. As can be expected, the midwives as well as all other attendants of the birthing ceremony as forbidden from sharing any details of the birth with anyone.
Before 1948, there was a strange tradition of having home secretaries present at the birth to “verify” the birth of the royal baby. It does make sense, after all what if someone switched the royal heir at birth or some other drama takes place as we so often see in the movies!
11BABY NAMES SHOULD NEVER BE REVEALED
The royals do love to keep their people in suspense. Once a pregnancy announcement is made by the Buckingham Palace, the speculation about the gender and the name of the child starts, not just in England, but the world over. The media get into a frenzy of guessing and betting and speculating on everything related to the royal child.
Everyone keeps their eyes on the Royal Princess searching for hints to support their guesswork. Is she favoring pink or blue, and so on. The Public was enamored with Princess Diana, the first princess who mixed with them and treated them as equals, after all, she was also once a commoner like them. It can be said that the birth of Prince William was a much awaited one not only by the royal family but by the whole of Britain and possibly by most of the world.
But even after the royal baby was born, the public had to wait for several days to learn his name was Prince William. But when Prince Harry was born, his name was revealed to the public the day he left the hospital he was born in.
According to the cheatsheet.com, “When Prince William was born, it was a week before anyone outside of the royal family knew his full name. This is one of the few traditions that Princess Diana appears to have followed. William’s father, Prince Charles, is in a similar boat, as his name was reportedly not announced until a month after he was born.”
10THE MONARCH MUST BE NOTIFIED FIRST
When a royal child is born, the monarch must be the first one to be notified. According to the worldlifestyle.com, “Royal protocol states that the royal family member who is the parent of the child must IMMEDIATELY call the Queen on a special encrypted telephone.” During Princess Diana’s time also, this royal tradition was followed.
Well, once Prince Charles takes over the throne [if he ever gets the chance], he will be the first to be notified of future births of the royal children.
Irrespective of the number of heir being popped out by all the royal princesses over the last few decades, all the princes, starting from Prince Charles, his son Prince William and his grandchildren Prince George, Princess Charlotte and the recent addition Prince Louise, remain the heirs to the throne, but never on the throne itself.
According to the Wikipedia, “Queen Elizabeth II became the longest-reigning British monarch on 9 September 2015 when she surpassed the reign of her great-great-grandmother Victoria. On 6 February 2017, she became the first British monarch to celebrate a Sapphire Jubilee, commemorating 65 years on the throne.”
According to the express.co.uk “Prince William was in the delivery room when both Prince George and Princess Charlotte were born. The fact William is likely to be in the delivery room for this birth means the Queen is highly unlikely to know before him and another tradition will be broken.”
9MUST GET WRAPPED IN SPECIAL BLANKETS
We now know of so many royal traditions regarding the royal baby, but a royal blanket seems to be an unexpected one on the list. When Prince William’s children were presented to the public for the first time, they were wrapped in special knitted-lace shawls, same as the ones Princess Diana had wrapped her baby, Prince William.
The dailymail.co.uk reported that the GH Hurt & Son Ltd shawl in which baby Prince George was wrapped is exactly the same as the one Prince William was swaddled in by his mother Diana 31 years ago. G.H.Hurt & Son has been manufacturing luxury knitted-lace shawls in Nottingham, England, for over 100 years.
According to the dailymail.co.uk “GH Hurt & Son Ltd, which has a long-standing connection with the Royal Family, sent the couple one of their £45 merino christening shawls. It was identical to one William had when he was a baby.”
When baby Prince William left the Lindo wing of St Mary’s hospital where he was born, his mother wrapped him up in a bird-decorated muslin wrap.
When Kate used the same wrap for Prince George, it created a big demand for the product. Their entire collection got sold out.
The Daily Mail revealed that when they realized the new family had used their wrap to show little George to the world for the very first time, Gillian Taylor, the company’s director, said they felt ‘honored’. A source from the firm told MailOnline: ‘The phone has been ringing off the hook and we have been taking more online orders than we have ever seen before. We had no idea that they were going to use it until we saw the television footage ourselves. We were dancing with joy.’
8SOLEMN SALVO IN HONOR OF THE ROYAL BABY
Gun salutes are used for marking important occasions in the UK, like the Queen’s birthday, the State Opening of Parliament and of course, the birth of royal babies. Now that is called a grand entry into this world!
Irrespective of their position in the line to the crown, after the birth of a royal baby, honors are given to both the parents and the child. The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery fires off 41 shots at the Green Park near Buckingham Palace. It is considered an official Royal Park. This volley of shots usually begins around noon.
62 volleys are given near Tower Bridge since the Tower is considered a Royal Place and is located within London. Though it sounds like a lot, the noisy shebang takes only around 10 minutes. But the bells in the Westminster Abbey is said to sound for much longer. The bells in the Westminster Abbey also ring a full peal to coincide with the gun salute in Green Park. The complex peals lasts for 3 hours.”
Princess Diana enjoyed the same privileges. she and her royal babies were honored in the grand British royal way with all the pre-planned gunshots and bells ringing. When Prince Louse was born in 2018, theguardian.com reported that “In the kind of heat that makes ringing a doorbell an effort, 10 campanologists peeled for more than three hours at Westminster Abbey to celebrate the birth. Passersby joined tourists in directing mobile phones, cameras and tablets upwards towards the abbey’s towers. The piece chosen for Tuesday’s celebration, which began at 2pm to coincide with a gun salute in Green Park, was Cambridge Surprise Royal, a complex peal made up of 5,000 thousand changes.”
The Guardian also noted that the abbey’s 10 bells, the heaviest weighing 1.5 tonnes, are rung for significant royal occasions. When Princess Diana gave birth to Prince William in June 1982, a complex peal called the Yorkshire Surprise Royal was chosen.
7HEAR YE! HEAR YE! A ROYAL CHILD HAS BEEN BORN!
Here’s another royal tradition that the Britishers religiously follow even today. It is customary to inform the public that a child was born in the traditional way loved by everyone. The birth of the royal baby is announced by a “town crier” all dressed up in traditional clothes, ringing a bell in one hand, a scroll in the other, shouting out the good news for everyone to hear. Crowds of people gathered outside the royal palace to see this enchanting scene which looks like is out of a fairy tale.
People would gather around the town-crier as soon as they hear his bell ringing. The locals look forward to the ceremony while the tourists are totally enthralled by it. In Medieval England, town criers were the primary sources of information as most of the townspeople were illiterate. In addition to this, a gilded easel is placed near the palace, with a note stating the time of birth and gender of the baby. According to the usmagazine.com, “The same easel used for William, George and Charlotte’s births will be displayed at Buckingham Palace to announce the newborn’s moniker.
While Princess Diana followed this tradition, her son, the Duke and his wife the Duchess of Cambridge now release the baby news on social media. But then again they do not forsake the time-honored tradition of the royal announcement. The official announcement also reveals the gender of the baby and the time of delivery. Thesun.co.uk reported that “Tony Appleton, 81, was on hand to announce the births of both Prince George and Princess Charlotte, and made sure he was there for Kate Middleton’s third royal baby too.
According to goodhousekeeping.com, Princess Diana established this practice of standing outside of the Lindo Wing for photos in her time. The Queen used to take her newborns out on the balcony of Buckingham Palace.
6DO ROYALS BREASTFEED?
the percentage of breastfeeding moms among UK gypsies may be just 3%, but the royal family sure knew the importance of breastfeeding even decades ago.
Queen Elizabeth II breastfed her children, and so did Princess Diana.
Not every mother is able to breastfeed her children, and her reasons for the decision are her own. We cannot shame a mother for choosing to bottle feed her baby, especially if she had medical or physiological reasons for doing so. I personally have breastfed all my 4 children an have found it quite a bonding ritual with the child. A practical side was that I had ready, fresh milk at the perfect temperature, anytime, anywhere! Medical studies have linked breastfeeding with higher IQs in babies and that just the tip of the iceberg. Breastfeeding has innumerable health benefits for both the mother and the child.
According to theguardian.com, “Before the birth of Queen Elizabeth, royal mothers generally looked down upon breastfeeding, seeing it as unfitting of a royal family member. But after Queen Elizabeth herself was breastfed after her birth in the 1920s, a new tradition has started. That’s right, every single child born after Queen Elizabeth has been breastfed, and now every new royal mother is expected to do the same.” Kate Middleton did follow in the Queens and Princess Diana’s footprints when it came to breastfeeding her children.
5MUST ACCEPT HELP
Even if she doesn’t want to, the royal mother has to hire a nanny for her precious child. The royal princess cannot shirk her duties even when she has a baby to look after. But hiring a woman for the position of a babysitter for a royal child is no easy task.
Nanny Olga Powell was 52 and recently widowed when she came to work for Diana and the Prince of Wales when William was six months old. According to the dailymail.co.uk, “Nanny Olga Powell didn’t slap them often, but when she did she knew it was with the approval of a mother who trusted her absolutely — a princess whom she saw as ‘just a young girl’ of 21 when she arrived at Kensington Palace in late 1982.”
The rules for royal nannies have become much more stringent since Diana’s times. Nowadays, folding laundry is probably at the bottom of on the job list. The royal nanny has to master skills not only in communication with children but she also has to learn many safety rules such as careful driving and even martial arts.
According to usmagazine.com, Maria Borrallo, George and Charlotte’s nanny knows Taekwondo and has defensive driving skills. Borrallo is a professional at caring for children. Maria graduated from Norland College in Bath in the U.K. more than 20 years ago. The college which opened in 1892, specializes in childcare training and education.
4THE ROYAL ATTIRE
According to the Daily Mail, “Baptisms are a must for Windsor babies thanks to the Queen’s role as Defender of the Faith and Supreme Governor of the Church of England. Royal infants are often welcomed into the Christian faith within weeks of being born – William was baptized on August 4 1982 at the age of six weeks.”
Now check out this royal tradition! In an era of modern fashion and innumerable renowned designers, the royal babies put on the same dress that Queen Victoria wore at her baptism in 1841. The dress was originally commissioned by Queen Victoria for her oldest daughter. Around 60 different babies wore this very same historic garment from 1841 until 2008. Diana’s children had worn the same traditional baptism dress as that of their ancestors. Wow! That’s indeed one old dress!
Prince William must have thought so too as his three children wore a carefully created replica made of Honiton lace. Lady Louise Windsor was the last one to use the original christening gown in 2004. A replica was made in 2008 due to deterioration of that gown. Now that’s indeed what I call honoring tradition. The British royal family does maintain the adoration of the public as they continue to live up to the fairytale expectations of the public.
3BAPTIZING IS A MUST
Who will perform the christening of the royal baby? It is obvious that the honor will go to the most senior bishop in the Church of England — none other than the Archbishop of Canterbury.
On August 4, 1982, the christening ceremony of Diana’s firstborn, Prince William, took place in the ornate cream Music Room at Buckingham Palace. According to the Dailymail, “Princess Diana, just 21 and wearing a fuchsia pink, blue and white floral dress with a pink hat set at a rakish angle, looked radiant. But she later confided to friends that it had been a trial.”
William Arthur Philip Louis was just 44 days old on the day of his Baptism.
The Dailymail reveals that the little prince uttered only three small cries as the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Robert Runcie, poured water over his head, but he grumbled his way through the subsequent photo session.
The christening ceremony itself has many more traditions. The christening dress as mentioned is just one among the many. Another tradition is the water used for the christening. The Archbishop of Canterbury uses water from the River Jordan for the ceremony, as its the believed location of Jesus’s baptism by Saint John. The vessel used for the baptism has been used in almost every royal christening since 1841. Yahoo.com says that Queen Victoria had the ornate Lily Font created for the baptism of her first child. The circa-1840 silver-gilt bowl takes on the form of an expanded flower, with three cherubs seated at the base.
2NOT JUST ANY BABY DIAPERS
This may sound like a strange tradition, but the royal family doesn’t use diapers. But some traditions are meant to be broken as the decades pass by and new trends are introduced. Though the royal family traditionally used only fabric diapers for their babies, Princess Diana was the first royal to switch over to using disposable diapers for little Prince William.
Theloop.ca says “Diana would have called them nappies, not diapers. Still, instead of using the traditional cloth kind that servants and nannies would wash and reuse, the People’s Princess opted for disposable ones… though it was never confirmed whether she preferred Huggies or Pampers.”
Perfectly understandable I would say. Disposable diapers have indeed come a long way. Cloth diapers are indeed more environment-friendly and recyclable. But an exhausted mom looking to sleep while her baby sleeps will surely consider modern day diapers as a boon. I switched to using diapers at night when my baby was just two weeks old and yes it did help him sleep longer and better. when a cloth diaper is used, the babies wake up as they feel cold or wet when they pee. But when disposable diapers are used, it helps the child stay dry through the night to ensure he or she gets a goods night’s sleep.
1TIME TO GO ON TOUR!
As a young mother herself, the Queen had left her baby, Prince Charles, at home when she set out on 6-month tour. However, Princess Diana took Prince William along with her as she traveled overseas.
According to britishroyals.info, “There was some controversy in the media when she decided to take William, still a baby, on her first major overseas visit to Australia and New Zealand soon after. But that was later popularly applauded. Although called Wills for short, this was where William got his other playful moniker – Wombat.”
Don’t you just love all these royal traditions? In the modern world where no one seems to have the patience to slow down and savor life’s little joys, the royal family sets a great example for slowing down and appreciating old world values. Traditions display a respect for a country’s culture and the legacy of a family’s ancestors. There’s no time better than the birth of the new generation to honor the old one.
Though Diana obviously respected royal traditions and did her share to uphold them, she raised her children as she thought best for them. Theloop.ca reports that “Royal children still have a strict dress code, just as adults do. Male kids can’t wear pants until they’re eight years old and they are expected to wear khakis, collared shirts and/or blazers for casual wear. But Diana allowed her boys to really dress down, and William and Harry were often spotted wearing jeans and baseball hats, as well as totally rad sunglasses.”