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It's finally happening: Kate Middleton is in labor and has checked into St. Mary's Hospital in London, according to Kensington Palace.
"The Duchess travelled by car from Kensington Palace to the Lindo Wing at St Mary’s Hospital with The Duke of Cambridge," read the palace statement, released in the early morning hours on Monday.
And now that she's settled comfortably (or miserably) in her private birthing suite in the Lindo Wing, we remain on the edge of our seats waiting for baby news. The folks at Buckingham Palace are on high alert, preparing to kick off an elaborate system of pomp and circumstance when the big moment comes.
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The protocol will, with a few exceptions, be mired in tradition. "Nothing has changed, to be honest," ABC Royal Expert Victoria Arbiter told Yahoo! Shine. "The whole thing, from beginning to end, will be very reminiscent of Prince William's birth."
That's true, of course, starting with St. Mary's, where both Prince William and Harry were born, with Prince Charles at Diana's side. William, 31, has said he intends to follow in his father's footsteps and be in the room with Kate.
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Royal obstetrician Marcus Setchell, assisted by Dr. Alan Farthing, will assist with Kate's delivery, which, according to many reports, she hopes will be a natural one — and which may very well be a calm, nonexcruciating process, according to recent reports that she may use a technique known as HypnoBirthing to ease labor.
When the newborn emerges, at long last, the royal PR machine will move into action. Details of the baby's sex and weight will be written down, and someone will be seen leaving the hospital carrying an envelope containing the news, for which there will be "quite a bit of ceremony," Arbiter suspected. Those details will be personally delivered to Buckingham Palace, and then displayed in the front courtyard on the same wooden easel used to announce Prince William's birth.
In addition to sex and weight, the paper may also include some sort of detail about the baby's immediate disposition. "It said that William was a 'lusty baby,' meaning he cried a lot," Rob Jobson, author of the forthcoming book "William & Kate: The Next Chapter," told Yahoo! Shine.
One thing it will not include, though, is the baby's name, which will be announced in due time. "It took six days to announce William's name, though Harry's was announced the next morning," Arbiter said. "But it took William and Kate three weeks to tell us their dog's name, so I'm not holding out hope that it will happen too quickly." Whatever they call their child, it's likely that it will be a mouthful containing up to four or five names — as in William Arthur Philip Louis, or Henry Charles Albert David. The child's title will be "prince" for a boy, and, for a girl, "princess," due to a new decree that has said the title will be changed, for the first time ever, from "lady."
After news is attached to the old-fashioned easel, it will also go out via electronic press release and Twitter — which will actually be the only modes of communication, replacing the easel tradition, if Kate gives birth between 10:30 p.m. and 8 a.m., Arbiter noted. A fan of the tradition, she added, "It will be a real shame if that happens."
The drama will continue with a 41-gun salute by the King's Troop at the palace's Royal Park and, most likely simultaneously, at the Tower of London.
Meanwhile, back at the hospital, Kate and William will be receiving select visitors that will most likely include members of the Middleton family, as well as grandparents Charles and Camilla, said Arbiter. Whether or not the queen will make an appearance, as she did the morning after William was born, will depend on her schedule, Arbiter added.
Barring any complications, Kate will most likely leave the hospital a day after giving birth, posing for photos with her new family on the steps of the hospital before heading home to Kensington Palace.
Eventually, a nanny is sure to enter the picture, despite Kate's reported desire to manage without hired help. "They're saying they don't want one, but I think it will be difficult for her to go forward without a nanny," Jobson said. "I don't see how she can do without one because of her responsibilities."
Finally, sometime within four weeks of the baby's birth date, the Archbishop of Canterbury will preside over a christening, Jobson added. And Kate and William will name the child's godparents—most likely a multitude of various family members that is sure to include Pippa and Harry, royal expert Phil Dampier told Shine.
Throughout all this time, of course, there will be no shortage of royal baby souvenirs, trinkets, and alcohol-fueled celebrations for the public — all of which will add up to an estimated $380 million to the British economy, according to a Centre for Retail Research report released June 17. And that, at least, is no baby stuff.