The Royal Baby Book
A Heir-Raising History of All Things Royal Baby
by Alison James
no publisher's details available
available on Amazon "soon"
"The birth of every baby is special. It is the most magical, mysterious phenomenon in the human experience. But when that baby is heir - or indeed ‘spare’ – to the British throne, the world’s most famous and distinguished monarchy, it’s a whole new realm of magic and mystery altogether. Marry the miracle that is a new life with the rich history of Royalty and you get a kind of double whammy wow factor – twice the magic, twice the mystery.
Generation after generation have been gripped by fairy and folk tales in which Royal babies have played leading roles. Think ‘Sleeping Beauty’ where the new-born Princess Aurora is cursed at her christening, ‘Rapunzel ‘ in which another new-born Princess is kidnapped for her youth-giving properties, ‘Rumpelstiltskin’ where a tiny baby Prince will be abducted unless his mother can complete the impossible tasks set for her. . . Some of the characters featured in this book would not be out of place in such mythical stories. In the 1500s, Philip the Handsome, King of Castile, refused to pay for the upkeep of his first child because she was female; Henry, Lord Darnley, second husband of Mary Queen of Scots, was involved in the murder of pregnant Mary’s musician David Rizzio who was killed in front of her because Darnley suspected Rizzio of fathering the child she was carrying; Princess Thyra of Denmark, Edward VII’s unmarried sister-in-law, was banished to Greece when she became pregnant by an army officer in 1871 and, having given birth, never saw her baby who was immediately handed over to a laundry maid. And Prince John, the youngest brother of George VI, suffered from epilepsy and was forced to live apart from his family.
Within these pages are tales of hope and fear, joy and pain, drama and conflict, pride and betrayal, triumph and tragedy, life and death – there’s humour, too, albeit somewhat black. Real-life stories played out over the centuries in the history of begetting, carrying and bearing babies of the Blood Royal, through to babyhood and beyond. It’s a sensational, often surreal, kind of soap opera but one with a sovereign spin. That’s not all it is, though. It’s also a social history of how we came into being, were born and survived through infancy and childhood. It’s the social evolution of these life stages over time from, for example, the Ancient Queens of Egypt who gave birth squatting on two large bricks within a reed-covered dwelling erected specially for childbirth, with only amulets and spells spelt out on papyrus to help with pain, to today’s Royal mothers some of whom, like the Countess of Wessex, have conceived with the help of IVF techniques.
Where Royalty lead, the rest of us have traditionally tended to follow. The Duchess of Cambridge, like her late mother-in-law Diana, is the Queen of trendsetters. Catherine’s fashion sense, hair and make-up styles are copied the world over – and it’s the same with her maternity wardrobe, how she conducts her pregnancy, the decisions she makes regarding the birth of her first infant and future infants, how she and William decide to raise baby Cambridge, and the names they bestow on the new HRH who, whether male or female, will be heir to the world’s best-known and best-loved monarchy. When Prince Harry was born in September 1984, for instance, the name had never featured on any ‘Most Popular ’ lists yet several years on, it was in the top 10.
It was ever thus. Henrietta Maria, wife of 17th century King Charles I, was the first woman in the world to give birth assisted by the top secret gynaecological invention that were forceps - which have been a staple in hospital delivery suites for years now. Queen Victoria blazed a child-birthing trail when she became one of the first women to be administered chloroform for pain relief in labour while her husband was, very unusually for the time, at her bedside on each of the nine occasions she gave birth. Their choice of perambulator - a 'Hitchings' baby carriage with red, white and black livery, and brass fittings – was the must-have purchase for an 1850s yummy mummy, just as Kate and Will Cambridge’s ‘Bugaboo’ or ‘Baby Joggers’ model will be for a 'Twenty Teens' one.
The birth of an heir - or spare - affects us all. It’s a public event of great importance and symbolic significance. As time goes on we will get to know this Royal baby so well, it will almost seem as if the new HRH belongs to us all. And as it is with anyone we love, we’ll want to know their history, heritage and who came before them. That’s just where ‘The Royal Baby Book’ comes in. . ."
reproduced for promotional purposes