A decided lack of fuss over William and Kate's Royal Baby 2

Unlike the media maelstrom that surrounded the pending arrival of Prince George nearly two years ago, the anticipation around the upcoming birth of his younger brother or sister is decidedly more low key.

Second children often don't get as much attention, though that can change when it's a royal

Prince William and Kate had the eyes of the world on them when they left St. Mary's Hospital in London with newborn Prince George in July 2013, and attention will focus on them again when they are expected to introduce their second child to the world later this month. (Andrew Winning/Reuters)

In the few weeks prior to Prince George's birth, the media frenzy surrounding the pending royal arrival was pretty wild.

Fast forward nearly two years to the upcoming birth of Prince William and Kate's second child, and the mood is decidedly toned down.

"It's actually rather a relief that everybody hasn't gone mad," says Ingrid Seward, editor in chief of Majesty magazine and author of A Century of Royal Children.

"It went on for too long last time."

Buckingham Palace has taken one high-profile step to try to rein in the maelstrom. Unlike last time, no media are allowed to take up positions outside the central London hospital where Kate is due to give birth in the weeks before her rumoured due date — which is thought to be sometime from April 23 to 25.

That's not to say there's no interest — headlines are still speculating on possible names for a baby who will be fourth in line to the throne.

"There is still great excitement because of the huge amount of interest in William and Kate," says Katie Nicholl, author of Kate the Future Queen. "The world can't seem to get enough of them."

Pretty in pink?

Reports that cans of pink paint were sent to William and Kate's rural home led to suggestions maybe this baby will be a girl — although royal officials insist not even the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge know the gender of their next child.

Members of the media were able to wait outside St. Mary's Hospital in London in the weeks prior to Prince George's birth, but there will be no camping out early in anticipation of the next royal baby. (Lefteris Pitarakis/Associated Press)

But unlike the obsession in the early summer of 2013, which featured everything from analysis of what kind of parents the royal couple might be to high-profile promotion of souvenirs, including royal baby sick bags, any focus on the upcoming arrival is much more low-key.

"I don't think it's downbeat at all," says Seward. "I think people are just being a bit more sensible."

Been through this before

Of course, anticipation of any second child is often more modest than what happened the first time around.

And it's hard to rival the anticipation there was for William and Kate's first child because of the place that individual would hold in the line of succession. 

"The first royal baby, because of succession reform that was underway at that time, boy or girl, that baby was going to be a future monarch, so Prince George attracted a tremendous amount of attention," says Carolyn Harris, a Toronto-based royal historian and blogger.

For this Royal Baby No. 2 — the spare to the heir — it's bound to be less intense, though history has a way of intervening: Both Henry VIII and George VI, Elizabeth's father, were among the royal siblings who inherited the British monarchy on the death or abdication of their older brothers. 

Plus, in Britain right now, public attention is focused on something else: a general election on May 7.

"What's interesting about the upcoming royal baby is how closely the Duchess of Cambridge's pregnancy has been connected in the press to British politics," says Harris.

Will Prince George appear in public going to hospital to see his new brother or sister? So far, his public appearances have been rare, and the most high-profile ones have occurred outside the United Kingdom, including at a play group in New Zealand in April 2013. (Marty Melville/Associated Press)

The announcement Kate was expecting her second child came just before the Scottish referendum last September.

"There was speculation that enthusiasm over a new royal baby might tip the balance if it was a close [vote] whether to stay part of the United Kingdom," says Harris.

Of course, in the end, the 55-45 result in favour of the status quo wasn't that close.

But now, there's even some curiosity surrounding whether the baby might make a late appearance and arrive on election day, diverting some attention from whether David Cameron, who has been prime minister since 2010, stays on at 10 Downing Street.

Seward, for one, expects the new baby will have arrived by May 7.

"Nothing in royal life is left to chance and if she hasn't had the baby by election day, she'll be induced."

It's unlikely Kate would be allowed to go more than a week beyond her due date, and if that really is sometime from April 23 to 25, then by May 3 "she'll have had it," says Seward.

Celebrating No. 2

Being a second child can bring its own unique level of attention, as it has for previous royal No. 2s.

"In previous centuries, second royal babies did receive a fair share of rejoicing," says Harris, noting the 1930 arrival of Princess Margaret, younger sister to the current Queen Elizabeth.

"Being born at Glamis castle in Scotland, there was an enormous amount of celebration there as it was rare at the time that a royal baby was born in Scotland."

William's younger brother Prince Harry also attracted considerable media attention at his birth in 1984, though some of that was undoubtedly a result of the celebrity allure of his mother, Diana, Princess of Wales.

Prince Harry's birth, as the second child of Prince Charles and Diana, Princess of Wales, attracted its own fair share of attention in September 1984. (Associated Press)
"Because Diana was so loved, there was huge interest in the birth of Prince Harry," says Nicholl. "I think we will see the interest of 1984 mirrored with the birth of this baby, especially if the Duchess has a baby girl."

Both Kate and William, however, seem to be more focused on finding a balance between public and private life for their family.

"So we go long periods of time without seeing Prince George officially in public for instance," says Harris, "or longer gaps between Kate's royal engagements. Part of that is she is the wife of the second in line to the throne rather than the Princess of Wales."

For whatever lack of attention there may be now, once word spreads that Kate has gone into hospital, the media will rush to grab their positions outside St. Mary's Hospital in Paddington. And they will come from all over.

"There's certainly big interest in Australia," says Nicholl,who is already doing two bulletins a week for a morning TV show Down Under. 

"America are also keen. Crews are coming over for the major stations right now."

Seward is expecting "huge excitement" once the baby is born. And if it's a girl, she says, that excitement will be "tremendous."


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