Manchester Historian

Student newspaper for the University of Manchester's History Department

Wednesday 23rd August 2017 | Manchester, UK

Celebrating royal babies

These will be the words proclaimed to Baby George in three generations time. The birth of the Queen’s third great grandchild is the most significant royal birth in decades. An estimated £250 million has been generated so far from the purchase of memorabilia related to his birth.

Royal babies have always been greatly celebrated in England, dating as far back as the 15th century when baby Henry VIII had two official cradle rockers hired (£3 a year).

There have been many traditions in the birth of royal babies that have remained unchanged for over two centuries. When Queen Victoria gave birth to her eldest daughter in 1841, an elaborate satin Christening robe was produced. This same robe has been used during every Royal christening, up until the birth of Lady Louise Windsor in 2004. The Queen then ordered a replica to be produced in 2008, as it had become too fragile.

Another longstanding tradition is the 41 gun salute that goes off as a sign of respect to welcome the Royal baby into the world. As well as this and despite the fact that we now live an age of mass media where news can be ‘tweeted’ in a matter of seconds, the birth of a Royal baby is still announced by being written on an easel on the gate of Buckingham Palace.

So why is George’s birth so significant?

Royal babies have always been christened by the Archbishop of Canterbury in Buckingham Palace, but George is the first to be christened in a different location. He is also one of the first to break the trend of early Christenings; his father and grandmother were both Christened at six and five weeks old respectively, whereas he was over three months old. His parents have also chosen godparents that are a mixture of old friends of theirs and of Lady Diana, as opposed to royal godparents; they have said that they want him to lead as ‘normal’ an upbringing as possible.

While the birth of Prince George has witnessed many changes to the traditions of Royal babies, the third heir to the throne will still grow up with all the pomp, tradition and celebrations that have been part of the English Royal family for over a millennium.

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