The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge greeting supporters outside of the Lindo Wing
Picture the scene at Kensington Palace on Monday. No, not Apartment 1A, the grand, 21-room home of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge where their still-to-be-named baby prince was waking up for the first time yesterday.
But around the corner from Clock Court, at Nottingham Cottage, the cosy retreat that Prince Harry shares with Meghan Markle.
There, in between finalising next month’s wedding plans and attending an official engagement with her fiance, the American actress was no doubt glued to the TV catching up with events in the Lindo Wing at St Mary’s Hospital, Paddington.
How could she not have taken it all in? The poised perfection of her soon-to-be sister-in-law Kate cradling her newborn, the cheers of the crowds of well-wishers, and the beaming pleasure of proud father William. There, in a snapshot, was Meghan’s future. Not yet a royal bride, but surely a taste of things to come.
Harry has made no secret of his longing to start a family of his own. ‘He adores being an uncle, but what he really wants is to be a father,’ says one of his Army friends. ‘He used to love it when any of the chaps pulled out pictures of their kids. He always wanted to have a look.’
He also has happy childhood memories of playdates and holidays with his Spencer cousins, and looks forward to the day when his children are playing with William and Kate’s.
The Duke of Cambridge entering the hospital holding the hands of his two eldest children Prince George and Princess Charlotte
But with George nearly five and Charlotte three next week, the gap between William’s children and Harry’s hoped-for family is growing. And there will surely be no greater incentive for Harry, 33, and Meghan, 36, to start their own brood than by visiting William and Kate, and spending time with theirs.
For the new parents, however, there is only one question pending: Do we stop now or try for baby number four? Despite suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum, an extreme form of morning sickness in the early stages of all three of her pregnancies, Kate bloomed as she came closer to her delivery dates. Within a year of Charlotte’s birth, she confessed to feeling ‘broody’ again and would need to ‘have a word with William’.
The Queen gave birth to four children which begs the question will Kate follow suit?
As the eldest of three herself, she was determined that they would not stop at two. For William the prospect of having a fourth child – just as the Queen did – opens up the possibility of some potential conflict with his father. ‘He would love to emulate his grandmother and have four children and he would be very happy if it was another girl,’ says one of his circle. ‘Having Charlotte was an improving effect on George who was a bit of a tearaway in the early days, so he knows the benefit a second daughter might bring.’
While the Queen doubtless would be thrilled, Prince Charles might have different ideas. As someone who has frequently spoken out about the global population explosion, he has, say friends, strong views about big families.
Certainly Princess Diana believed that this contributed to his refusal for them to have a third child. But even if tempted to say something to William, Charles would almost certainly keep his opinions to himself, friends believe. ‘He has a tricky relationship at the best of times with his eldest son and wouldn’t want to make things more difficult,’ says an aide. A couple of years ago Charles complained that he didn’t see enough of his first grandson, and that it was Kate’s family who were perceived to have the greater influence over George and his sister.
The family stand on the balcony of Buckingham Palace during the Trooping of the Colour (2016)
The youngsters have been regular visitors to the Middletons’ Berkshire home, Bucklebury Manor, and with the couple reportedly ‘virtually retired’ from the day-to-day running of their business, Party Pieces, they are free to be hands-on grandparents whenever they are needed.
It is understood that Mr and Mrs Middleton were among the first family members to meet the new baby yesterday – just as they were with George – along with Kate’s pregnant sister Pippa, who was photographed driving out of Kensington Palace smiling broadly. As for Prince Charles, who has been in Scotland on a private break this week, he is unlikely to see the new arrival until tonight or tomorrow at the earliest.
Today he is attending a dawn service in France to mark the centenary of the Battle of Villers-Bretonneux, alongside the Australian and French prime ministers.
Kate confessed that she felt ‘broody’ just a year after giving birth to her daughter Charlotte. Pictured at the Trooping of the Colour (2017)
However, he has declared himself overjoyed at becoming a grandfather again, while admitting: ‘The only trouble is, I don’t know how I am going to keep up with them!’ With more than 600 public engagements a year plus a growing number of official duties on behalf of the Queen, the prince has to ask his diary team to schedule time with his grandchildren. He may need to take a leaf out of his wife’s book. The Duchess of Cornwall always finds time for her grandchildren.
The Queen and Prince Philip, who are at Windsor this week, are expected to meet their new great-grandson at the weekend, when William and Kate visit the castle.
Thus far, William has been calling all the shots with the new arrival – and that’s how he intends to continue. As the couple gave the world its first glimpse of the fifth in line to the throne on Monday evening, it was he who dictated proceedings. William had waited until Kate was ready before she and their new son faced the glare of the cameras outside the hospital.
And, just as he did with George and Charlotte, he chose to drive Kate and the baby home to Kensington Palace rather than use a chauffeur – a small statement, perhaps, that he intended to treat this most intimate moment as any ordinary family would. But then William is very much his own man.
‘He’s been like that from the moment he left school,’ says a royal aide. ‘Charles has never put pressure on him, probably because there was so much pressure on the boy already after his mother died.’ The loss of his mother when he was 15, and his determination afterwards to care for his younger brother, is seen in royal circles as having given William a fierce independence.
Friends have always said that the circumstances of his mother’s death made William resolve never to allow his official duties to overwhelm his family life, or to allow the outside world to pry too intimately into it.
‘William adores being a father and is very hands-on with all the children,’ says the aide. ‘This is something he learned not from his father but from his father-in-law, Mike Middleton.’
It was, for example, expected that the couple would hire a maternity nurse to help Kate through the early weeks following the birth of their third child. ‘George was a handful as a baby and cried throughout his first meeting with the Queen when she came to see her new great-grandson,’ according to an insider.
‘It turned out he was hungry and their then-nanny Jessie Webb soon got on top of that.’
This time around and with the experience of two babies behind them, William is confident that as long as he is at his wife’s side, he and Kate can cope in the nursery.
In the meantime, it is likely that the emotional ripples of this latest royal birth will not just be affecting mother and father – but Uncle Harry and soon-to-be Aunt Meghan, too.
PALACE CASHES IN WITH £39 CHINAWARE
Official Commemorative Tankard £39.00
The new baby wasn’t yet even a day old when Buckingham Palace had brought out a selection of commemorative gifts … … including a £125 teddy bear.
There is also a range of chinaware including a pillbox costing £35, a £49 plate and a £39 tankard, left – all featuring a lion cub and baby unicorn based on the Royal Arms. Everything has been gilded with 22-carat gold. The bear was made by Merrythought, which has produced toys since 1930.
In addition to pure mohair plush made from the fleece of the Angora goat, the teddy’s paws are made from pure wool felt. Cheaper gifts include a £14.95 golden pram decoration and a unicorn decoration for £12.95.
THE CHARLOTTE EFFECT! NOW TODDLERS £45 DRESS SELLS OUT
Charlotte’s £45 dress had sold out
At the age of two, it seems Princess Charlotte already has a level of fashion influence to rival her mother.
The toddler, who stole the show with her appearance at the Lindo Wing on Monday, was wearing a £45 floral smocked dress, which immediately sold out online.
The Duchess of Cambridge’s wardrobe choices usually fly off the shelves moments after she wears them too – dubbed the ‘Kate effect’.
Charlotte’s ‘blue for a boy’ Periwinkle dress, with Peter Pan collar and sash, was by Little Alice London. The brand is owned by Alice Avenel. She is a close friend of the duchess and the pair both attended Marlborough College.