Archives

Heirs and spares: Royal babies since 1948

From Prince Charles in 1948 on down to Prince Harry's first child, the public has always been fascinated with the progeny of the Royal Family.

The public has always eagerly awaited news of high-ranking births in the Royal Family

In a photo used for the Royal Family's 1965 Christmas card, Queen Elizabeth is seen on the grounds of Windsor Castle with Prince Philip and their children. From left, they are Princess Anne, 15, Prince Charles, 17, and Prince Andrew, 5. In the pram is Prince Edward, age one. (Associated Press)

They are born into a life of wealth and privilege, but also relentless scrutiny.

All eyes are again on the Royal Family with the recent arrival of the newest royal baby — Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor, the son of Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex. The baby boy is seventh in the line of succession to the throne.

Britain's Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, during a photocall with their newborn son, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor, in St. George's Hall at Windsor Castle on Wednesday, May 8, 2019. (Dominic Lipinski/Associated Press)

Here's a look back at 70 years of CBC reporting on royal births.

First in line: Prince Charles 

Royal-watchers across the Commonwealth celebrate the birth of a new heir to the British throne. 2:26

Prince Charles was born on Nov. 14, 1948, a year after the marriage of his mother, Princess Elizabeth, to Philip Mountbatten, in 1947.

A childhood portrait shows Prince Charles in his basket at Buckingham Palace in January 1949. (Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

From Paris, CBC correspondent Matthew Halton described how a puzzled French friend asked him about the crowds gathered outside the palace awaiting news of the birth.

Halton himself said he didn't entirely understand the mania for the newest member of the Royal Family, who would later be named Charles.

"No doubt it was partly fun, partly a way of spending Sunday evening," he said. "Partly it has to be the romantic feelings that must attend the birth of a child in a great palace to a celebrated princess." 

Halton also made a calculation.

"If his grandfather the King and his mother the princess live the full span of life," Halton said, "he may be 50 or 60 years old before he ascends the throne."

Charles turned 70 in November 2018 and is marking 50 years since his investiture as the Prince of Wales — the next in line — this year.   

Anne, a spare for a time

Celebrations throughout the Commonwealth mark the birth of a girl into the Royal Family. 2:33
Princess Anne, with her parents Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip, on her christening in October 1950. (Getty Images)

Not even two years passed before crowds gathered once more to await a royal birth.

On Aug. 15, 1950, CBC "women's commentator" Monica Mugan delivered a detail-packed report from London on the newest in line to the throne.

"Her Royal Highness Princess Elizabeth … was safely delivered of a princess at 11:50 a.m. today," read the notice that a messenger pinned to the gate at Clarence House, the princess's residence and where the birth took place. Mugan said the crowd outside cheered.

Anne, as she would be named, was third in line to the throne, behind her brother Charles and her mother Elizabeth.

When her mother became Queen in 1952, Anne was, for a brief time, second in line to the throne.

But she fell to third in line with the birth of her baby brother in 1960.

It's a boy — again: Andrew

The first birth of a child to a reigning monarch in over a century is good reason for celebration. 1:40

It had been a full decade since the birth of a baby in line for the throne when Andrew was born on Feb. 19, 1960.

Prince Charles, walking a corgi, strolls with Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and their nanny Mabel Anderson at Euston Station in London on Aug. 8, 1963. (Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Heralded as the "the first child born to a reigning sovereign in 103 years," Andrew's arrival was covered at length. CBC Radio even interviewed the BBC announcer who first read the news to Britons.

John Snagge had the distinction of bringing decades of momentous news to listeners, including the birth announcements of Royal Family members from Elizabeth in 1926 to the present in 1960.

"Today for the first time I was able to say, 'the Queen has had her baby, and it's a boy,'" he said.

Polled for reaction to the news, one woman got to the heart of the matter.

"I'm awfully glad it's a boy, because if anything should ever happen to the older one, well then there's still a king along the way."

Edward — 'Happy-for-everyone news'

Queen Elizabeth's fourth child is third in line for the throne. 1:08
Queen Elizabeth sits with a young Prince Edward on her lap in 1966. Prince Andrew is to her left, with his father Prince Philip. Prince Charles waves from the front seat. (Getty Images)

On March 10, 1964, a third son, who would later be named Edward, was born, and Princess Anne's place in the line to the throne shifted to fourth.

Canada's prime minister, Lester Pearson, was quoted as pronouncing it "happy-for-everyone news," and CBC Radio reporter Ron LaPlante ran down the list of the celebratory formalities that would be carried out.

A "delighted" Prince Philip called for champagne and four-year-old Prince Andrew was given a peek at his new brother.

William: a 'people's king' 

The next monarch in line to the throne after Prince Charles is born on June 21, 1982. 1:49

Cheering crowds bearing Union Jacks were gathered outside Buckingham Palace as well as the hospital where Diana, Princess of Wales, gave birth to the second in line to the throne on June 21, 1982.

Prince Charles and his wife, Diana, Princess of Wales, take newborn son Prince William home from St. Mary's Hospital in London on June 22, 1982. (John Redman/Associated Press)

"I think he's going to be like his father," said a young woman at the palace. "A people's king, not a monarchy king."

Without many more details besides the baby's weight (seven pounds, one ounce), CBC reporter Brian Stewart focused on the arrival of the Queen from holiday and the persistence of well-wishers, who had been holding vigil since 6 a.m. that day.

The birth of William Arthur Philip Louis, as he would be named six days later, was announced at 9 p.m. but happy Londoners remained at the palace gates "into the early hours of the morning," said Stewart.

Less fanfare for Harry

Royal watchers eagerly awaiting the birth of Diana's second birth are rewarded with the good news. 2:02

The birth of his elder brother led The National, but when Diana and Charles had a second child, anchor Knowlton Nash wrapped the broadcast with the news on Sept. 15, 1984.

Charles and Diana leave St. Mary's Hospital with their second son on Sept. 16, 1984. (Associated Press)

Reporter Patrick Brown was there as an elaborately costumed announcer, bearing an ornamental mace and ringing a bell, came out to deliver a report.

"The Princess Diana has issued forth a second child," he said. "It is a boy."

If he had anything to add, it was drowned out by the shouts of thrilled royal-watchers.

"It's a little early to say," said a kerchief-wearing observer, "but I'm sure Diana will give us a little girl next time round."

The boy, third in line to the throne, was later named Henry, but was very quickly nicknamed Harry. 

Lucky Beatrice

A new princess is born on what some consider the luckiest date of the 20th century: 8/8/1988. 1:57

For the superstitious, Aug. 8, 1988 — or 8/8/88 — is considered a very auspicious date.

"On the date that the Chinese say is the luckiest in this century, Buckingham Palace … announced the birth of another royal baby," said CBC reporter Sheila MacVicar that night.

And as the announcement posted to the palace gates showed, the luck didn't end there for the first child of Prince Andrew and his wife, Sarah, Duchess of York. The baby, a girl, was born at 8:18 p.m.

After officially opening a new soap factory, the Queen had told the assembled crowd that she was "fed up with waiting," added MacVicar.

And just as her parents' marriage had done two years earlier, the new baby's birth was expected to be a boon for the souvenir industry, which was waiting for the announcement of the baby's name.

Bookies were giving three-to-one odds on Annabel. Gamblers who bet on it weren't so lucky: the baby's name, announced two weeks later, was Beatrice.

George, Charlotte and Louis

Before the birth of Prince William's first child, Canada updates its laws to permit a potential daughter to become Queen of Canada. 2:16
The birth of William's first child in 2015 would do more than bump everyone else down the line of royal succession.
Prince William and Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, are seen with their children Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis as they arrive for Louis's christening at St. James's Palace in London on July 9, 2018. (Dominic Lipinski/Associated Press)

Governments in Commonwealth countries around the world, including Canada, effected laws that would allow the new baby to become the sovereign regardless of gender.

Until then, if the baby was a girl who was then followed by a boy, the boy would take precedence in the queue to be next on the throne.

According to Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore, the change was necessary to "modernize the Crown."

"Last year, when the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge announced they were expecting their firstborn … Buckingham Palace made the suggestion that a modernization of the rules of succession to the throne … needs to happen," he said on CBC's Power & Politics.

As a result of the update to the law, William's three children — George, Charlotte and Louis, born in 2013, 2015 and 2018 — are third, fourth and fifth in line, after Charles and William.