When the Queen gave birth to Prince Charles the Belgian Suite in Buckingham Palace was converted into a maternity ward.
Six decades later Zara Phillips‘ experience of welcoming her daughter was an all together different affair. For the birth on 17 January 2014 Zara put her faith in an ordinary NHS hospital.
Queen’s granddaughter had the little girl at the Gloucester Royal Hospital with husband Mike Tindall by her side.
According to the Express, the hospital was recommended to the equestrian champion by her brother Peter Phillips and his wife Autumn.
“It has a very good reputation and it is where Peter’s wife Autumn had her two babies,” a source told the paper.
“She had nothing but praise for the staff and facilities and she and Peter have recommended it to her.
“It’s hard to imagine better facilities even if you went private and to be honest they are not a couple who like to waste money.”
New mum Zara also had the choice of Stroud Maternity Hospital and Cheltenham General Hospital, both of which are near the estate owned by her mother Princess Anne where the Tindalls live.
It was Anne who started the trend for births at St Mary’s in Paddington by choosing a private wing of the NHS hospital to have her children – which in turn introduced the custom of the informal photocall. Diana followed her example with Prince William in 1982 and Prince Harry in 1984.
Kate Middleton also choose to have Prince George in the very same clinic last year.
The Princess Royal was also the first royal mother to have her husband by her side. When Prince Philip was waiting for the Queen to produce an heir he spent part of her 30-hour labour playing squash with his private secretary.
It was a footman who eventually broke the news to him that he’d become a father. Afterwards the Prince toasted the baby’s health with champagne and presented his wife some carnations.
Luckily, Princess Elizabeth as she was then, was spared one ancient custom. Before Prince Charles’ birth it was traditional for the Home Secretary to be in attendance in an adjoining room to validate the birth of an heir to the throne. In 1930, the Home Secretary had travelled to Scotland to be on hand for the arrival of her sister Princess Margaret.
When carrying Charles in 1948, the Queen kept out of public view for months before the birth. In contrast her grandson’s wife Kate continued with public engagements into her third trimester.
Meanwhile Zara attended church, heavily pregnant, with the rest of the royal family on Christmas Day and was also riding into her second trimester.
The plan is that the new mother should compete in the World Equestrian Games in Caen, France, at the end of August. She wants to take her baby on the circuit, just like Anne, a former Olympic rider herself, did with her as a youngster.