We've had a few hours to process it now: Kate Middleton, or Duchess Catherine of Cambridge, wife of Prince William, is pregnant, which means lots and lots of excitement, even in countries without monarchs. Here in America, we're thrilled! On Day Two of the news, the New York Post takes a moment to remind us that Will and Kate are going to do things differently. They are not the old-school monarchy of stiff upper lips and cold rigidity and pomp and circumstance we used to know, or hear about. They are adamantly modern, vehemently normal, and their parenting style will be like that, too. Or as Jane Ridley and Dana Schuster write, "this couple want to raise their baby just like us." (Don't raise him or her just like us, please. Somewhat like us, maybe! But there's gotta be some royal stuff in there, for our enjoyment.)
Anyway: "don’t expect their style of pregnancy and parenting to follow the crusty old protocols from a time when royal children were handed over to a team of nannies and very much seen and not heard," write Ridley and Schuster.
In their scheme of normalcy, Kate and William will discourage people from buying gifts and instead will suggest contributions to their charitable trust. They will be involved and "hands-on." They won't, probably, have a live-in nanny as "they don't like to be surrounded by staff," according to Joe Little, managing editor of Majesty magazine. (They do allow for a daily housekeeper, though.) Little thinks they'll continue to live primarily in the farmhouse they rent on the Welsh island of Anglesey when they're not at their London apartment in Kensington palace, even if the baby is born in London (as is also likely—at either St. Mary's Hospital in Paddington or Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust). Hospitals are normal, even if they do have luxury maternity wings.
Throughout it all, they'll try to stay as private as possible, including keeping the baby's gender under wraps until birth, or so royal watchers speculate. This has not stopped the already rampant speculation, including via British bookie Paddy Power, about possible names: “If it’s a boy, I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a Philip or an Arthur or a George or a Louis in there because of his father and his grandfather’s names,” says [Little]. “And, if it’s a girl, Diana would be a very appropriate middle name in honor of William’s mother.”
Or speculation about what Kate and the baby will wear:
“I think just as Kate mixes and matches [designers] with Zara, the baby will do the same,” says British mommy guru and maternity-wear maven Rosie Pope. Although when the child is first-born, Pope expects Kate to have some fun with infant wear: “I think when the baby first comes out, you’ll find a lot of pictures of traditional baby clothes — heavy smocking and lots of buttons — from designer Rachel Riley.”
But mostly, they will just be normal. Affectionate rather than aloof. Think Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner, not Honey Boo Boo's mom and dad, or, um, the Kardashians? Out of the spotlight, just average folks, with their average kid, being speculated about endlessly throughout England and abroad, their photos on every tabloid, articles about them in every paper. And if it's twins? Oh my. Girl twins?! Well, that will be something to talk about!
Ah, there's the rub: One key way this baby is (these babies are?) not just like us is the extensive media coverage already devoted to him, her, or them, coverage we can expect to continue for the foreseeable future. Keeping things normal can be a challenge when you're all over the papers, but you can't blame the royals for trying. "Normal" has always been a difficult proposition, especially when there are crowns involved.