Royal baby: Thinking of the late Princess Diana as her first grandchild is born

Chelmsford town crier Tony Appleton announces the birth of the Royal baby outside St. Mary's Hospital's exclusive Lindo Wing in London. Picture: Lefteris Pitarakis Chelmsford town crier Tony Appleton announces the birth of the Royal baby outside St. Mary's Hospital's exclusive Lindo Wing in London. Picture: Lefteris Pitarakis

Tuesday, July 23, 2013
11:23 AM

Suffolk-based journalist and former BBC Royal Correspondent Michael Cole looks at how East Anglia will play a key role in the baby’s upbringing.

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In all the royal baby euphoria, I cannot help thinking of the late Princess Diana and what an enduring tragedy it is that she is not here to see the birth of her first grandchild.

Diana was born in July 52 years ago at Park House, Sandringham, and grew up very much a Norfolk girl. Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge will soon be introducing their son to the delights of Anmer Hall on the

Sandringham Estate, the country house given to them by The Queen where the family will spend most of their private times.

East Anglia has a big stake in this Royal birth, with the Prince’s invaluable Private Secretary Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton a Suffolk man who went to St Joseph’s school, Ipswich. The East Anglian Children’s Hospices, with its wonderful Treehouse in Ipswich, will be among the first sending congratulations.

Besides Diana, I cannot help feeling for this baby boy. In the immortal words of Del Boy, “It’s a baby, Rodney”. Indeed, it is: a tiny human being who is destined to become our future king but first and foremost he is a person, an individual, a boy whose every waking moment from now on will be the subject of acute and sustained observation.

Not many of us would wish that for our own children. Imagine it, never having a day that was entirely one’s own, to do what one wished as the whim might take you.

The third in line to the throne will never be able to go off hitch-hiking around the continent for months on end as I did when I was 18 or to disappear on a gap year adventure with just an occasional postcard to the folks back home. Fortunately, the Royal baby has sensible parents who will want to do things their way. The best interests of their son will be uppermost in their minds. I congratulate them on how they managed to arrive at St Mary’s hospital without the Nikon Choir outside getting sight of them.

Prince William saw what happened to his mother. His priority has been to protect his wife from nasty intrusion. I am sure he will extend that loving care to his new-born son.Quietly, he is modernizing the monarchy.

The Duke and Duchess will be intent on giving their son a childhood as happy, carefree and normal as possible. Gone are the days when royal children would not go to school. The Queen and her sister Princess Margaret were educated by tutors. When they joined the Brownies, the pack came to them.

In those days, the bulletin announcing a royal birth would be hung on the palace railings, not placed on an easel. It would announce that a prince of princess had been delivered.

Like any sensible father, Prince William would have been delighted with a son or daughter.

But it is a son. He will have four names but I predict the first of them with be George, a favourite, propitious name in the royal family.

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