What a whirlwind of a day! In less than thirteen hours, Kate arrived at the Lindo Wing, gave birth to a little princess, George made an appearance, the royal couple presented their new baby on the steps, and swoosh, they had all gone back to Kensington Palace! The timeline alone is a little hard to keep up with, add to that the barrage of texts, tweets, and livefeeds and it can end in some confusion. You've seen the pictures, you know the general story, but let's walk through the last 24 hours to get everything order.
Last night, photographer Jesal Parshotam got on Periscope to tell us that the police presence was significantly higher than it had been any other night. His brief broadcast showed a police car with multiple officers moving past the Lindo Wing, as what seemed to be a security check was underway. I think that Kate knew last night that she was heading toward labor. Having gone through this before, the Duchess had a better sense of timeframe, and remained in the comfort and privacy of Kensington Palace until it was time go to the hospital, but they knew they were preparing for the real thing.
At 6am London time, Kate checked into the Lindo Wing through a back entrance, The Cambridge Door. It is different from the door she used with George, but not far from it. The Cambridge door affords a little more privacy, since the cameras wouldn't really have an easy angle to catch her going in. Kensington Palace announced the Duchess was in labor at 6:30am:
At that point, I figured we had hours to wait before Kate delivered, let alone the Palace announced that the new little HRH had arrived. Not one who relishes my sleep patterns being disturbed, I went back to bed until my normal get-up. You can imagine my shock when I woke up to discover that five minutes before, Kensington Palace had released the news that Kate had had a little girl several hours before! (One of my friends just had her 4th TEN minutes after checking into the hospital) Our Princess arrived at the hospital at 6:00am and delivered the new princess at 8:34am!
Excited chaos burst around the Lindo as reporters and bloggers alike began processing the implications of this very speedy and early arrival. The unofficial, but charming, Town Crier had been staying at a hotel nearby, fully kitted out, but wearing trainers, ready to dash to the Lindo Wing as soon as the news broke. He is allowed to get up on the steps and make his joyful announcement:
It was immediately apparent that William and Kate could very likely be gone before the sun set. After all, if Kate had an easy and healthy labor, and mommy and baby both checked out, why wouldn't they return to the comfort and privacy of their own home? That she was going to leave was all but certain. What we didn't know was whether she would have visitors, and very importantly, would Prince George make a stop on the steps of the Lindo Wing? Meanwhile, the easel was placed in front of Buckingham Palace and traditional announcement was placed:
The Queen was not in residence at Buckingham Palace, instead, she had been staying at Sandringham. She had a public engagement in York today, and wore a deep pink ensemble that some wondered might have been to celebrate her new great-granddaughter. Meanwhile, whispers that Kate's hairdresser had arrived began to circulate as speculation continued about possible visitors. As the clock ticked, the likelihood of fitting in visitors and a departure began to wane. Then, it was announced that William would return to Kensington Palace to "see George," which clearly translated to, if George is up for it, a visit would take place. The beaming new daddy trotted down the steps waving to the cameras and fans. "We are very happy, thank you!" he told the press, "I am just going to get George."
The Cambridges never committed to bringing George until the last moment, but I always felt that it was inevitable. Obviously, many hesitated to assume the small prince would make an appearance because of his parents' struggle to protect George from the press. When the Range Rovers returned with the Duke and George, I think excitement was as high as the actual baby's appearance. William popped from the driver's seat and moved around to the far side of the car, where he was just visible pointing to the photographers and talking to George, doubtless trying to warn him of the commotion they were about to enter. Camera feeds from above showed him put the little tot on his feet and take his hand, but a few short steps and George moved in front of William, his arms outstretched asking to be held.
Swept to the protection of Daddy's arms, George's confident personality mixed with the natural, perplexed reaction of small toddler to a bank of photographers and waving strangers. He slowly mimicked William, and waved back as his little baby brows knit in concentration:
Still the swiveller, (nothing has changed in that department since Australia) he faced out toward the photographers as William paused at the bottom of the steps to give the cameras a chance to get a good shot. He smiled, and as if to reassure little George, gave him a quick kiss as he turned to head up the steps.
As they walked into the Lindo Wing, just before the two disappeared, George rested his head against William's shoulder, his dark eyes still staring out at the cameras. George didn't stay long. Kensington Palace tweeted he had returned to the Palace shortly after, and I suspect Nanny Maria took him home. She had been spotted in the car when William and George arrived, and they two must have slipped out a back entrance. The clock had essentially run out to have a visit from family, and I suspect that because Charles was not in London to drop in, it was decided better PR to have no one come, than run photos of just one set of grandparents. I understand the PR side of that choice, but I have to say that not seeing Carole and Mike was a big disappointment to me.
The Cambridges announced they would leave the hospital, and it was a little after 6:00pm that the doors of the Lindo Wing swung open and a radiant Duchess of Cambridge emerged, William by her side, holding her swaddled little daughter in her arms. The couple beamed at each other...
...and at the precious new addition to their family:
Just as she did when pregnant with George, Kate turned to Jenny Packham to design a bespoke dress in which to debut her new baby. I was not surprised that she chose a gender neutral color. The polka dot piece from 2013 seemed a tribute to Diana and blue is a color Kate chooses often. It very well may have also been gender-based, but to repeat blue, or even worse pink, would have been too cliché. This cheerful print was a smashing choice! I have to say that I far prefer it to George's polka dot, which was a little too shapeless. This polished look could not have been more perfect. The Duchess completed the ensemble with her Jimmy Choo Gilbert pumps and Annoushka pearl drops.
Maybe because they had already given the public quite a bit by bringing George, or possibly simply because it was the second time around, this photo-call was far shorter than George's. Kate never handed the baby off to William and the two did not take questions. Some smiles, some waves, and suddenly they were heading back up the stairs. Just a few minutes later, they remerged, William again helped Kate with the stairs.
She headed for the passenger side, as William moved to place the baby seat in the Range Rover. I think we all held our breath to see if William was going to have trouble, but the car seat easily clicked into place. As if guessing our thoughts, William turned and grinned, holding up two fingers to indicate he had been perfect twice in a row.
And away they went. 6:00 am to 6:00pm. Kate is one efficient princess. According to Max Foster of CNN the couple did not take visitors this evening, and we will have to see if the baby gets high-profile visitors tomorrow. The Cambridges plan to spend a few days at KP and then move to Anmer Hall for a quiet summer. The next big reveal is, of course, the name. It has been a long day, kids. Let's all enjoy a rest. I am going to search out some champagne to toast this sweet little face!