With the Duchess of Cambridge giving birth to her second child in a private hospital room, the nearest the public can get is to camp outside waiting to catch a glimpse of the family as they depart.
This is a very recent phenomenon; in fact Prince William was the first future king to arrive in such a way.
In the past, heirs to the throne were usually delivered at their homes amongst much fanfare and an attentive audience. A number of these homes belong to Members of The Historic Houses Association who open their doors to the public so you can see for yourselves the places where our royal family were born or raised.
The most famous, perhaps, is Hever Castle, the childhood home of Anne Boleyn.
Hever is currently home to England’s only surviving medieval royal state bed; one of the most significant artefacts of early Tudor history. The son that was most certainly conceived in that bed on Henry VII’s marriage night was Arthur who died young to everyone’s shock. It may also be where Henry VIII was conceived. The bed, which is on display at the castle until November 22nd, is covered with fertility symbols and was very probably the birth place of at least one of Henry VII’s seven children.
In Tudor times, there would have been a number of witnesses to the birth of an heir to the throne and even quite recently Home Secretaries used to attend royal births. The custom was ended in 1948 ahead of the birth of Prince Charles.
Prior to that, the birth of Princess Margaret in 1930 caused some difficulty for then Home Secretary JR Clynes. He had remained in Scotland while he waited to witness the birth of the princess at Glamis Castle, now an HHA Member, which ended up happening two weeks later than planned. When the baby was finally on its way, Clynes was already ready for bed, but on the news of the impending arrival had to scramble to the castle for the birth.
The Queen’s younger sister was born on a stormy August night at Glamis, the first royal baby in direct line to the throne to be born in Scotland since the year 1600. The registration of the birth was delayed to avoid Princess Margaret Rose being numbered 13 in the parish register.
Ever since 1376, when Sir John Lyon brought his royal bride Princess Joanna to Glamis, countless royal figures have been enchanted by its aura and setting. Among them were James VI of Scotland (James I of England) and Mary Queen of Scots.
The castle holds a number of personal pieces of royal memorabilia including the birth certificate of Princess Margaret, with telegrams of congratulations, from King George VI and Queen Mary.
Glamis is the ancestral and childhood home of the late HM Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother (who was born in another HHA member property, St Pauls Walden Bury), and is the ancestral seat of her great nephew the 18th Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne.
For those interested in more Royal connections, The HHA has a Royal Trail available here and invites you to come and see for yourselves their historic royal homes.