Royal baby: Birth likely to mirror William's arrival

Media and royal fans hope Prince William's hospital step debut 31 years ago will be repeated in days ahead

In many ways the birth of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's baby will mirror the birth of Prince William 31 years ago.

The baby will be delivered in the same London hospital and the birth notice displayed on the same easel used to reveal details of William's arrival.

But perhaps most strikingly Kate and William will likely pose for the first photographs with the royal baby on the same steps where three decades before Diana stood holding the infant Duke alongside husband Prince Charles.

"The famous photo opportunity at St Mary's with Diana and the baby and Charles will be repeated," said royal commentator Richard Fitzwilliams.

"That is what the hundreds of press outside will be waiting to see."

Media, including film crews from around the world, have been camped outside the private Lindo Wing of St Mary's hospital in Paddington since the start of this month.

They staked out their territory a full two weeks before Kate's mid-July due date.

It was revealed in mid-June that the couple don't know the sex of the baby.

That announcement came after Kate had earlier appeared to let slip she was expecting a girl.

Accepting a teddy bear from a member of the public the Duchess apparently replied: "Oh is this for our d ... ?" But other reports suggest she actually said: "Is this for us? Aw."

Kate is hoping for a natural birth and doesn't plan to join those dubbed "too posh to push".

She'll be tended by a top medical team led by the Queen's former gynaecologist Marcus Setchell who turns 70 in October and postponed his retirement to deliver the royal baby.

He reportedly quit drinking altogether on the first weekend in July "to be primed and ready for the call from the palace".

He'll be assisted by the Queen's current gynaecologist, Alan Farthing, who's been a doctor for 26 years and works at St Mary's.

Both Prince William and his younger brother Harry were born at the Lindo Wing which offers "bespoke care packages".

A normal delivery package, including a one-night stay, costs around £45,000 ($86,600).

A suite of two rooms, with one used as a living room, costs £6300 for a one-night stay with normal delivery.

The British press have reported that each room has a satellite TV with major international channels, a radio, a safe, a bedside phone and a fridge.

Kate will be able to access the internet via Wi-Fi and all meals are freshly prepared in a dedicated kitchen.

Royal historian and writer Hugo Vickers says St Mary's is the best hospital in London "and you'd expect them to go for the best".

"In the old days they used to set up maternity units in places like Buckingham Palace and even Clarence House but they don't do that any more," Vickers said.

"It's much more important they should have all the facilities around them and the facilities in the Lindo Wing are better than anything else."

William became the first future monarch born in a hospital in 1982. Previously royals had been born at home. Prince Charles was born at Buckingham Palace in 1948.

But one tradition is being maintained, even in this fast moving information era, with live 24/7 broadcasting, the internet and social media.

The birth will be accompanied by an element of theatre with a notice informing the nation that a new heir to the throne has been born placed on an easel in the forecourt of Buckingham Palace.

The notice will be taken from the hospital and given a police escort to speed it through the streets of London to the Queen's official residence.

There's little doubt there will be a media frenzy surrounding the birth of this newborn.

But St James's Palace last month appealed for restraint in light of the December suicide of nurse Jacintha Saldanha after being hoaxed by Australian DJs Mel Greig and Michael Christian while Kate was being treated for severe pregnancy sickness.

"With the events of King Edward VII hospital still strong in our memories, we would expect any media covering the Duchess of Cambridge's hospitalisation to ensure the normal functions of the hospital are not impeded," a spokesman said.

- AAP

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