Since the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have confirmed that they are expecting their first child to be born in mid July our thoughts have turned to the place of birth for the third in line to the throne. If, as we suspect, Kate stays close to home in London for the final of weeks of her pregnancy then the most likely venues for the royal birth would be either St Mary’s Hospital, where William was himself born, or King Edward VII Hospital where Kate was treated for acute morning sickness.
Births, royal or otherwise don’t always go according to plan and whilst Kate’s first born is unlikely to arrive in the back of a London cab following a speedy labour and (ultimately) vain dash across the capital to hospital, other locations are possible. The young prince or princess may emulate his/her grandfather by being born in Buckingham Palace whilst Wills and Kate pay a visit to William’s grandma. “Hot water and towels Philip!”
The Queen herself was born in neither a hospital nor a palace. Elizabeth’s place of birth was 17 Bruton Street, Mayfair, London. Had she been expected to become queen then this might not have been the case, but at the time her uncle, the future King Edward VIII was the heir to the throne and he was expected to provide the line of succession. His abdication and the accession of his brother George VI, the Queen Elizabeth’s father, changed all that.
Looking back at England’s monarchs since William The Conqueror, London has been the most favoured place for their births, with fourteen having been born in and around the city, including five at St James’s Palace (mostly Stuart monarchs) and three at Greenwich Palace (Tudors, Henry VIII and his daughters, Mary and Elizabeth).
London doesn’t have the monopoly on the birthplace of kings and queens, though. Ten monarchs have been born elsewhere in England from places as far afield as Norfolk (George VI – Sandringham), Northamptonshire (Richard III – Fotheringhay Castle), Surrey (Edward VIII – Richmond) and Lincolnshire (Henry IV – Bolingbroke Castle); and the only Yorkshireman, Henry I, born in Selby around 1068.
England’s kings aren’t always born in England with six coming from France. The Normans Williams I and II were born unsurprisingly in Normandy, Stephen came from Blois, and Stephen’s cousin Matilda gave birth to Henry II in Le Mans (although early historians didn’t record the length of her labour!) Richard II might have died at Pontefract Castle, but he was born in Bordeaux, and the most recent French birth was Edward IV in Rouen in 1442.
Wales has provided us with three births of monarchs with Edward II, Henry V and Henry VII born in Caernavon, Monmouth Castle and Pembroke Castle respectively, whilst Scotland have sent two – James I (Edinburgh Castle) and his son Charles I (Dunfermline Palace). Of the remaining three monarchs, two came from Germany – the Hanoverians George I (Osnabruck) and George II (Herrenhausen) were both born before their Royal House took the Throne, and one was from Holland, William III, of Orange and The Hague.
Whilst it’s a safe bet that William and Kate won’t be heading off to the Netherlands in July, maybe we can entice them up to Yorkshire – we (and our daughter) can recommend Harrogate Hospital for a right royal birth and I’m sure the Queen would enjoy a cuppa at Betty’s Tea Room when she visits her great grandchild.