19 March 2015

A Royal Baby in April for the Cambridges

By Ricky Wilson
via Wikimedia Commons
Although many of us had already calculated an April due date for the second child of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, the information has become "official" as far as the world's media is concerned. It is being widely reported--and is stealing headlines from The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall in the United States, where they are on an official visit--that Catherine revealed the time frame of the much-anticipated birth during one of final prenatal engagements.

While "mid to late April" is not at all a surprise, I do find the nature of its revelation a bit suspect. According to a volunteer at the charity Kate was visiting, Kate casually provided the information just because the lady asked her when she was due. Perhaps it really did happen that way, but I'm sure this was not the first time the duchess has been asked this question. I'm certain many people, including the media, have asked it during walkabouts, during other royal visits, and even in official press requests of the palace information officers.

Nevertheless, one lady's declaration was certainly enough to set the world a-Twitter (pun intended). Don't even get me started on the political commentators who are predicting what this will mean for British general election on May 7...

from the cover of Time magazine
via Wikimedia Commons
So, what does an April baby mean? There are already a couple of key dates in late April for the British Royal Family. The most significant is The Queen's actual birthday on April 21. Her official birthday is celebrated in June to take advantage of more reliable whether, but Queen Elizabeth II was born in a somewhat unremarkable house at No. 17 Bruton Street on April 21, 1926. The house, which belonged to her maternal grandparents the Earl and Countess of Strathmore, is no longer there. At the time, she was a celebrity baby but no one expected her to be the monarch, so her mother chose to have her among her own family rather than in a royal palace. Her parents also discontinued the royal family tradition of giving descendants the name of either Queen Victoria or her husband Prince Albert. For 85 years until her birth, every new baby had a version of one of these names included among a long list of names. The new princess also received a rather short name for a royal highness; only three names although they were all regal: Elizabeth (for her mother) Alexandra (for her great-grandmother) Mary (for her grandmother).

By Bassano
via Wikimedia Commons
The 26th of April was the wedding anniversary of The Queen's parents. Born the second son, Prince Albert The Duke of York, had to ask the vivacious Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon to marry him several times before she finally accepted him. It was not because of a lack of affection but because she did not want to live her life amid the restrictions placed on royals. Once she finally said yes, they formed a lovely partnership and a lovely close-knit family of four with their daughters, Elizabeth and Margaret. Those restrictions his bride had feared became even more onerous when the abdication of Albert's brother brought them to the throne as King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. Together, they helped keep morale high during World War II, but his early death from cancer in 1952, and her legendary long life meant that she was a widow for 50 years. She became known as The Queen Mother and was beloved as nation's granny. She maintained royal duties until almost the very end of her 101 years.

By Cesar via Wikimedia Commons
The 29th of April is, of course, the wedding anniversary of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge themselves. (See my post Favorite Royal Wedding Photos.) It is also the feast day of St. Catherine of Siena, and some have speculated whether the couple chose that date in honor of the saint with whom the duchess shares her name. If William and Kate like saints, perhaps they will let the day of the child's birth inspire the child's name. That could mean Princess Bernadette (April 16), Prince Apollonius (April 18), Prince George (April 23)--oops already taken, Prince Mark (April 25), Prince Simeon (April 27), Prince Peter Chanel (April 28), and, why not, Prince Pius (April 30).

(Guessing British royal baby names based on saints days makes more sense than using royal baby birth dates to predict the outcome of national elections. Just sayin'.)

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