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Bonnie Brownlee on CBC Royal Baby Plans: 'We'll Be On Air 'Til We Have a New Royal'

-- Getty Images

Since the first speculation over Kate Middleton's expanding middle, CBC has been buzzing over a new Royal Baby like every other news outlet in the world. And with the due date approaching, coverage is already up. You can follow the Royal Baby blog for the latest news, and camera crews are already mobbing outside St. Mary's Hospital in London. That's just a smidge of what's happening -- through CBC alone.

So to find meaning in the media blitz, CBC's appointed a new Royal Commentator, Bonnie Brownlee -- an insider who's provided TV analysis on all things Royal for the last 17 years. And as soon as the Duchess of Cambridge goes into labour, she'll be sharing her take on the excitement, broadcasting from Toronto.

Says Brownlee: "We'll be on air until we have a new royal."

Now, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are on Twitter. The same goes for every last pap camped outside of St. Mary's Hospital -- all capable of sharing vital stats and Instagram video as soon as the child arrives. Still, there's a long tradition involved in how a royal birth announcement is made, a tradition that will be upheld even amid news leaks, and that protocol is something with which Brownlee is well acquainted.

(Read more on how a royal birth announcement will be made at CBC News.)

A communications expert, formerly employed by the office of Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, Brownlee first entered the world of the royals while attending Commonwealth meetings with the former P.M. She met the Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson. "That's my first real, true friend, is Sarah Ferguson. And then, Prince Andrew. And then Diana," Brownlee says of the royals she encountered -- and with whom she eventually worked.

Between 1995 and 1997 she served as an advisor to the Duke and Duchess of York. "There's no end to what that entails," says Brownlee of the job, though the short version is this: she was on-call, 24/7, working in communications. "We were all entering this new world of social media and 24-hour news channels."

Says Brownlee: "I'm still very close to Prince Andrew and the Duchess of York, their daughters Princess Beatrice and Eugenie. William and Harry a little bit because I knew them well when their mother was alive. You know, it's a little different now, but I keep in touch."

Bonnie Brownlee, the CBC's new Royal Commentator. --Craig Cooper/CBC Live

Her insider insight will be brought to her CBC coverage, which arrives at a time when people seem increasingly fascinated by the Royal Family's saga.

Brownlee's interest in the monarchy was, she says, originally borne from a curiosity in their ties to Canadian identity. "We come from the British parliamentary system, so I've always just been intrigued why they matter, what they're doing in my life every day and why we're still following this young royal baby being born."

But as Brownlee sees it, the general fascination with the royals, especially recently, has more to do with their personal stories. "They've been very smart in the last few years about managing, from the Royal Engagement to the wedding to the jubilee, the pregnancy -- everything's fallen into quite a good pattern of news stories for them."

A strong lingering affection for the late Princess Diana has compounded the public's interest in Will and Kate. "William is still a piece of Diana that the world has never let go," says Brownlee, "so whatever he does, and wherever he's going in life, we, for some reason, can not seem to get enough of this young man and his mischievous brother, Harry."

Photographers secure their position outside Saint Mary's Hospital in London July 2, 2013, awaiting the arrival of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. -- Getty Images

Still, constant coverage of the Royal Baby has a significance that goes beyond landing the cover of People and Hello!. While enormous fanfare surrounded stories such as the Royal Jubilee and Royal Wedding, to the point Brownlee wonders "how much more coverage they could've got out of ANY of those events," the baby marks a historical shift before he, or she, even arrives. And it's all because the rules of succession have changed in time for baby's arrival.

"It takes away that whole issue of being first born male to become king, or landowner, or whatever the case may be," says Brownlee. "It's equality. Which I think a lot of women are probably caring about and watching."

For everything on the Royal Baby, visit CBC News.


Photos: Celebrities Meet the Queen



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