Royals

Princess Charlotte’s royal entrance

Kate and William's gorgeous baby Princess Charlotte was worth the wait. We take a look inside her very first day.
Duchess Kate and Princess

She kept her parents – and the world – waiting for over a week. But when Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana finally decided to make her entrance into the world, she did so in super-quick time. The newest member of the royal family was born just two-and-a-half hours after her mother, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, arrived at the Lindo Wing of St Mary’s Hospital in London. And just 10 hours after that, the gorgeous newborn was proudly shown off to the world by her delighted parents before they whisked her home to Kensington Palace. That meant that Kate and William were back in their spacious apartment with Princess Charlotte just over 12 hours after they’d left it – Kate chose not to stay the night in the luxury maternity unit, which costs around $10,000 for the first 24 hours.

It was a very different scenario to the arrival of their first child, Prince George, 21 months ago. Then, Kate was in labour for 10 hours and it was another 14 hours before she left the hospital. Second babies usually arrive quicker than the first, so it was no great shock that there was less time to wait for the baby’s birth this time round. The happy news was delivered via the Kensington Palace website, followed by a series of posts on Twitter.

The first one, sent out at 11.10am (10.10pm New Zealand Standard Time) on Saturday, May 2, simply read, “Her Royal Highness, the Duchess of Cambridge, was delivered of a daughter at 8.34am.”

That was swiftly followed by, “The baby weighs 8lb 3oz [3.7kg]. The Duke of Cambridge was present for the birth.” The next tweet read, “The Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Harry and members of both families have been informed.”

“Her Royal Highness and her child are both doing well,” read the fourth. Meanwhile, a town crier announced the news to the crowds gathered outside the hospital, where a loud cheer was given.

It seemed like it had been no time at all since the 6.39am tweet from Kensington Palace that read, “HRH the Duchess of Cambridge was admitted at 6am to St Mary’s Hospital, Paddington,

London and is in the early stages of labour.”

The next tweet said, “The duchess travelled by car from Kensington Palace to the Lindo Wing at St Mary’s Hospital with the Duke of Cambridge.”

Left: The easel outside Buckingham Palace announcing Princess Charlotte’s arrival. Right: Midwives Jacqui Dunkley-Bent and Arona Ahmed delivered Charlotte after a relatively short labour.

There had been speculation that Kate would be admitted to hospital over the weekend to be induced. No due date was ever given by official sources, but it was believed that the baby was expected around April 25. In March, Kate herself told a member of staff at a children’s centre that she was due “mid to late April”. Charlotte was delivered by Guy Thorpe-Beeston, surgeon gynaecologist to the royal household, and Alan Farthing, surgeon gynaecologist to the Queen. Midwives Arona Ahmed and her boss Jacqui Dunkley-Bent, who is professor of midwifery at Imperial College, London, were apparently tasked with the “heavy lifting”.

Royal sources say Kate and William did not know the sex of their baby before her delivery. However, several days before the princess arrived, rumours of a girl were sparked when boxes of pastries sent to royal fans, who had been sitting outside St Mary’s for days – and in some cases, weeks – were tied with pink ribbons. It seems most people were tipping that George’s sibling would be a sister. The bookies favoured a girl, at overwhelming odds of 4/9. When the news was announced that a princess had been born, the assembled crowd gave her three cheers. Phone calls had already been made to close family members, with the Queen notified first. When she arrived at an engagement in North Yorkshire later that afternoon, Her Majesty was wearing a bright pink coat and matching accessories, believed to be in homage to her new great-granddaughter.

Soon after the announcement, the Queen attended a military parade in a princess-appropriate pink ensemble.

Prince Harry, who was in Australia on secondment with the Australian Defence Force, was also telephoned. He said he couldn’t wait to meet his newborn niece, adding that she was “absolutely beautiful” in the photos. It’s going to be some time before he does get to see her – he’s not returning to the UK until after his week-long tour to New Zealand.

Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall announced that they were “absolutely delighted” at the arrival of a little girl. A few days earlier, Charles had told members of the public that he and Camilla were “hoping for a granddaughter”.

Big brother George didn’t have to wait long to meet his little sister. His dad collected him that afternoon and drove him to the Lindo Wing. William then tried to get George to walk into the hospital, but the 21-month-old toddler wasn’t having any of it.

After a few steps, he stopped and held out his arms to his father, wanting to be picked up. Doting dad William encouraged his son to wave to the crowds, which George did – albeit a little tentatively. The future king then planted a tender kiss on George’s temple before carrying him into the hospital. George was taken home separately before Kate, William and Charlotte emerged from the hospital just after 6pm.

Charlotte was fast asleep, wearing a cute bonnet, wrapped in a soft white shawl and cradled by her mother, who looked stunning in a floral Jenny Packham dress. Kate’s hair had been done by her usual hairdresser Amanda Cook Tucker, whose arrival at the hospital earlier in the day had alerted media to the fact that the new princess could be making an appearance within a few hours.

A smiling Kate and William posed for a short while outside the hospital with their newborn before popping back inside to farewell staff. Then William carried Charlotte out of the hospital in her car seat, putting it in the back of his black Range Rover. Kate got in the back next to the baby, then William drove them to Kensington Palace.

Prince George is helped by his father into the Lindo Wing at St Mary’s Hospital to meet his baby sister.

Several hours earlier, at Buckingham Palace, two footmen had placed a formal framed notice proclaiming the birth on an easel set up by the palace gates.

By then, many thousands of messages of congratulations had flooded in from all over the world. They included messages from UK Prime Minister David Cameron, US President Barack Obama and New Zealand Prime Minister John Key. William’s uncle and Diana’s brother Earl Spencer was also celebrating. “It is wonderful news – we are all thrilled for all four of them,” he said.

William’s friend David Beckham, who was celebrating his 40th birthday that day, tweeted, “Incredible news. Not a bad day to be born.”

There were immediate celebrations all over the UK. The birth was announced on the top of London’s iconic BT Tower with a rolling pink banner that proclaimed, “It’s a girl!”, while pink bunting was hung up outside St Mary’s Hospital.

London’s iconic Tower Bridge was illuminated in honour of the royal newborn.

Even the Royal Navy got in on the act. Sailors on board the HMS Lancaster stood on the deck in a formation that spelled out the word “sister”. And as night fell, many of London’s famous landmarks were bathed in pink light in honour of Charlotte’s birth.

The duke and duchess were “hugely grateful” for the messages of congratulations they received from people all over the world, according to a statement later released on their behalf. “It means a great deal to them that so many people have celebrated the arrival of their new daughter.”The princess’ name was not announced until Monday, May 4, to an immediate flurry of happy responses. The Queen, who was at Sandringham, did not get to meet the newest member of her family before the name was announced, although the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge required her permission, and probably spoke to her by phone.

The Cambridges are now in residence at Anmer Hall, which is part of the Queen’s Sandringham estate.

Princess Charlotte’s first day

6am

The duchess, accompanied by William, is driven from her home at Kensington Palace to the Lindo Wing, St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington. The news that she is in the early stages of labour is announced by Kensington Palace at 6.39am.

8.34am

Following a short labour, Charlotte is delivered by royal obstetricians Alan Farthing and Guy Thorpe-Beeston.

11.10am

After the new parents have some quiet time with their daughter, and family members including the Queen have been notified of her birth, the official announcement of the baby’s arrival is made via Twitter. Outside the Lindo Wing, a town crier delivers the news to the gathered crowd.

3pm

An easel bearing the official framed announcement that a daughter has been born is placed outside Buckingham Palace by two footmen.

4pm

Having left the hospital a short while earlier, William returns with his son George. The toddler gives a shy wave to the crowd.

6.12pm

Kate and William briefly introduce their 10-hour-old daughter to the world on the steps of the Lindo Wing. They go back inside to farewell hospital staff before leaving.

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