Royal baby protocol: Step-by-step guide, from name reveal to christening

·4-min read
 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have announced the birth of their daughter, Lilibet Diana Mountbatten-Windsor.

The couple’s second child was born on Friday in California. Lilibet is “more than we could ever have imagined”, the Sussexes said in a post on their Archewell website, describing themselves as “blessed”.

Harry and Meghan revealed they were having another baby in February on Valentine’s Day, announcing the news with a black-and-white photo of them together on social media, which was shot remotely on an iPad from London by their long-time friend and photographer Misan Harriman.

The couple already participated in some of the customs that come with the arrival of a royal baby when their first child, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor, was born in 2019.

Now that they’ve stepped down as senior members of the royal family, it’s not clear whether they will follow royal protocol, which can dictate what happens in the hours, days and weeks following the birth.

From how the Queen finds out to when the baby’s name is revealed, this is a step-by-step guide of what traditionally happens when a new royal is born:

The Queen is the first to know

Following the safe arrival of a royal baby, the Queen will always be the first person to be informed.

Her Majesty is reportedly contacted using an encrypted telephone to tell her the good news.

When Prince George was born, on 22 July 2013, Prince William called his grandmother before contacting Kate Middleton’s family.

The press and public are informed

Royal births are traditionally announced via a statement placed on an easel in the forecourt of Buckingham Palace for the public to see (
Royal births are traditionally announced via a statement placed on an easel in the forecourt of Buckingham Palace for the public to see (

Next, an official statement is posted on websites such as royal.gov.uk and sent out to media outlets.

The royal family will also use the official Twitter account to announce the arrival.

Confirmation of the birth is also made via a bulletin placed on an easel in the forecourt of Buckingham Palace for the public to see.

The framed, typewritten note includes details such as the baby’s gender, time of birth, as well as a short sentence about the wellbeing of the mother and child.

For families that have given birth at the Lindo Wing it has also become a tradition for the new parents to pose for photographs with their new arrival on the steps of the hospital ward.

The name is announced a few days after the birth

Over the years it has become tradition for the baby’s name to be announced in the days following the birth.

Both Prince George and Princess Charlotte’s names were announced two days after they were born, while Prince Louis' name was revealed four days after his birth.

It is also common for the child to be given three or four names. For example, Princess Charlotte's middle names are Elizabeth and Diana.

The Queen must approve the names of royal babies who are closest in line to the throne.

Official photographs are released

While most royal babies make their first public appearance outside the hospital hours after being born, official photos of the child aren’t usually released for a number of weeks.

Two weeks after the birth of Prince Louis, Kate Middleton shared photos of the new arrival which she had taken herself in the days after he was taken home to Kensington Palace.

The images included a snap of the royal baby being cuddled by his big sister Princess Charlotte, and another of him wearing a white outfit propped up on top of a white frilly cushion.

The christening takes place

A couple of months later, the baby will be christened wearing a gown that has been passed down through the royal family.

Known as the Honiton christening gown, the garment is a replica of the dress that Queen Victoria commissioned for her first-born child, Victoria Adelaide Mary Louisa.

The original gown, which was made from white silk with a handmade lace overlay, was worn by 62 royal babies over the course of its 163 year history.

George VI and the Queen wore the white lace dress, as did Prince Charles, Prince William, and Prince Harry. The last royal to wear the original gown was Lady Louise Windsor, Prince Edward and Sophie, Countess of Wessex's daughter, in 2004.

The replica was designed by the Queen’s personal wardrobe advisor, Angela Kelly, in 2011, and has been worn by all three of Prince William and Kate Middleton’s children.

It is also expected that the new arrival will have a number of godparents. Prince George has seven, Prince Louis has six and Charlotte has five.

Usually, the parents announce whom they have chosen as their children’s godparents. However, Harry and Meghan chose to keep this information to themselves when Archie was born.

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