Zara Tindall has had one of the most unusual ever royal births – despite following in the footsteps of her grandmother the Queen by having her baby at home.
Unlike the monarch, who delivered all four of her children at home in a royal palace or mansion as planned, Zara gave birth to her son unexpectedly on the bathroom floor of her Gatcombe estate house.
Lucas Philip Tindall – Zara’s third child – arrived on Sunday, with proud father Mike Tindall revealing how the baby’s speedy delivery caught them off guard, and left him rushing to put down a gym mat and towels because there was not enough time to get to hospital.
The Tindalls’ new arrival, who is a member of the royal family but not an HRH, is thought to be the first royal baby to be born at home for nearly 60 years.
The Queen’s sister Princess Margaret had her daughter Lady Sarah Armstrong-Jones, now Lady Sarah Chatto, at home in Kensington Palace in May 1964, a few weeks after the Queen had Prince Edward, now the Earl of Wessex, at Buckingham Palace.
Joe Little, managing editor of Majesty magazine, said: “Every royal baby born since the 1970s has been born in hospital.
“The upper classes would never have babies in hospital. It became a modern royal convention.
“A sudden birth on your bathroom floor at six o’clock on a Sunday evening is up there with the most unusual of royal births.”
Lucas’s great-grandfather the Duke of Edinburgh also had a slightly unusual birth place.
Philip was born a prince of Greece and Denmark, allegedly on the kitchen table of his family home, Mon Repos, on the Greek island of Corfu, in 1921.
Lucas’s middle name honours both the duke and Mr Tindall’s father Philip.
Mr Little said: “It was allegedly the kitchen table or the dining room table – a home birth in slightly unusual circumstances – but I think that’s just how it was back then.
“It’s a very interesting link between the two Philips – both born in quite unusual ways.”
The Queen kept to the custom of a home birth for all of her own four children – the Prince of Wales, the Duke of York and Edward were born at Buckingham Palace, while the Princess Royal arrived at Clarence House.
When delivering Charles, the then Princess Elizabeth was given an anaesthetic to help ease the pain.
A restless Duke of Edinburgh played squash with his private secretary while his wife was in labour.
He was still on the courts at the palace when he learned of his son’s arrival, after King George VI’s private secretary rushed out to announce the birth.
Mike Tindall revealed how he watched golf and rugby on the TV after Lucas’s arrival.
“The best thing about being at home, the best thing was, as soon as he’s wrapped up, he’s skin on skin, straight downstairs. TV room. Golf on. This is what we’re doing,” he said.
When the Queen, then Princess Elizabeth, arrived in 1926, she was delivered by Caesarean section at 17 Bruton Street in Mayfair, the home of her maternal grandparents.
According to royal author Sarah Bradford, it was a “difficult birth” and “Elizabeth was a breech baby, her mother tiny and small boned”.
Diana, Princess of Wales actually broke with royal tradition when she had Prince William, now the Duke of Cambridge, in the exclusive Lindo Wing of St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington, London, in 1982.
He was the first future British king to be born in a hospital.
Diana was following in the footsteps of her sister-in-law, the Princess Royal, who had Peter Phillips and Zara at the Lindo Wing in 1977 and 1981.
The Duchess of Cambridge welcomed all three of her children – Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis – at the Lindo.
The Duchess of Sussex had her son Archie at the plush Portland Hospital in London, as did Princess Eugenie with her son August in February.
Mr Tindall revealed Zara was induced for their first child, daughter Mia, who was born at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital, while their second daughter Lena was born in Stroud Maternity Hospital.
He said on his rugby podcast: “It’s been a slow journey. The first one was in Gloucester Royal, done the right way, was induced as well actually.
“The second one is in Stroud in the local birthing clinic, and this one we didn’t even make it there.”
Royal births through the ages were previously often far from private, with witnesses present to make sure no substitute baby or changeling had been smuggled into the room.
For Princess Elizabeth’s birth in 1926, the home secretary, Sir William Joynson-Hicks, waited in the next room.
But this intrusion has not been deemed necessary for royal babies for many years.