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Q&A: What happens once the royal baby is born?

Story highlights

  • Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are eagerly awaiting the birth of their first baby
  • Royal protocols and traditions govern how the new royal arrival is announced
  • Queen Elizabeth II, British PM, and baby's grandparents among first to hear news
  • Public will be told of baby's birth via note on an easel outside Buckingham Palace

Any day now, the Duchess of Cambridge is due to give birth to her and Prince William's first baby -- a new heir to the British throne. It is an event that has been eagerly awaited since Catherine's pregnancy was announced last December, but what will happen once the baby arrives?

CNN runs through the expected schedule, although as with all births, be warned that anything can happen.

Where will the baby be born?

Catherine is expected to give birth in the private Lindo Wing at St Mary's Hospital in Paddington, central London -- the same place where both Prince William and Prince Harry were born.

The world's media -- CNN included -- are already staking out their positions in view of the hospital's front door, to try and ensure a front-row seat when the baby makes its debut in front of the cameras.

If Catherine goes into labor while visiting her parents at Bucklebury in Berkshire, she may instead opt to give birth at the nearby Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading, where she herself was born.

    Will Prince William be there for the birth?

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    Prince William serves as a search and rescue helicopter pilot in the Royal Air Force, and is based at RAF Valley on Anglesey in North Wales, about four and a half hours' drive from London.

    Like many other fathers-to-be in the military, he will not be taking time off before the baby's arrival, but when Catherine goes in to labor, it is expected that he will be flown by helicopter to Kensington Palace in order to be at his wife's side as soon as possible.

    Catherine's mother, Carole Middleton is also likely to be on hand at the hospital, in case William is unable to make it to London on time for any reason.

    Who will be the first to know about the birth?

    Once the royal baby is born, Queen Elizabeth II, British Prime Minister David Cameron, and the Governors General of each of the Commonwealth nations will be informed, along with the rest of the royal and Middleton families.

    If the baby arrives in the middle of the night, it seems unlikely that the 87-year-old monarch will be woken up, so there is a chance that in the event of an overnight delivery, an announcement would not be made until the following morning.

    When will the rest of the world know?

    After the baby is born, an official notice confirming the newborn's gender, weight and the time of its birth will be signed by Catherine's doctors.

    A palace official will bring this document out of the hospital -- this is the first indication the world will get that the royal baby has arrived -- and hand it to a messenger, who will take it to Buckingham Palace, under police guard.

    At the palace the notice will be put into a gilt frame, which will be positioned on an easel -- the same one that was used to announce the birth of Prince William -- and placed in the palace forecourt.

    This is the first time the world will know the gender of the baby. However, it could take anything up to 10 days before the new arrival's name is announced.

    After the birth is announced, Prince William is expected to make a statement outside the hospital, as are Kate's mother and father, Carole and Michael Middleton.

    The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and his wife Kate are expecting their first baby, due in mid-July.

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    Celebratory gun salutes will be sounded by the King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery in Green Park (41 rounds) and the Honorable Artillery Company at the Tower of London (62 rounds).

    What will happen after the birth?

    In keeping with tradition, as she leaves St Mary's Hospital, Catherine is expected to appear on the steps of the building with her newborn, as Princess Diana did with Princes William and Harry.

    The next stop for the new family may be the Queen's estate at Sandringham in Norfolk, Balmoral in Scotland, or even the Middletons' home village of Bucklebury, in Berkshire, but exactly where the baby will spend its first weeks is being kept a closely-guarded secret.

    In the longer term, the royal couple plan to set up home at Kensington Palace, but they are not expected to move in there immediately.

    Catherine and William are said to be set on giving their baby as normal an upbringing as possible, and are reportedly not planning to employ a nanny -- though of course they have plenty of other staff to lend a hand.

    Considering the duchess came from a relatively ordinary background, it is not surprising they would want the same for their child -- as much as is feasible for a future British monarch, of course.