The Duchess of Cambridge – aka Kate Middleton – can thank her lucky stars. Despite the intrusions of the paparazzi, and idiotic Australian radio presenters, she will give birth in a hospital in relative privacy, and with adequate pain relief. She can also expect that both she and her baby will emerge from childbirth safe, and that this firstborn, either boy or girl, will become the heir.
It hasn’t always been so.
Giving birth to the heir to the throne was once a very public act, because both these issues were critical. In times when childbirth was much more dangerous, there was always room for suspicion that a live baby might be substituted for a dead one, or a boy might replace an unwanted girl.
Usually the ladies of the court would act as witnesses to the birth, but occasionally, the men would be invited in as well. When the security of the monarchy was at stake, politics trumped privacy every time. Continue reading