Carole Middleton's influence is increasing to such a degree that some are suggesting she and husband Michael be given a title
With the words ‘I’ll take the teddy for my dau . . .’ during a walkabout in Grimsby on Tuesday, the Duchess of Cambridge perhaps let slip what the world has been waiting to know — the gender of the royal baby.
Is she expecting a girl? Certainly, she is pregnant enough to know one way or the other. As the Palace has announced that the baby is due in July, Kate must be at least 23 weeks pregnant. An ultrasound between 18 and 22 weeks can reveal the sex for those who want to be told.
Some tests — amniocentesis, for example, which screens for Down’s syndrome — can provide an answer at 15 weeks.
Either way, when the Duchess laughingly protested ‘We’re not telling!’ to one of the Grimsby well-wishers who suggested that she knew whether she was expecting a boy or a girl, it was surely a hint that she definitely knows.
Should we see any pink paint being smuggled into Kensington Palace, Apartment 1a, which is currently being refurbished, we won’t be surprised.
The prospect of a little Princess increases the already strong chances that this baby will be brought up royal, but essentially a Middleton. Some royal watchers think William has become one.
As a first granddaughter naturally gravitates towards her maternal grandmother, and Carole has raised two daughters (in a highly dedicated fashion) and Charles none, this naturally strengthens her position even further.
At some stage, Carole will effectively become the Queen Mother anyway. Indeed, her influence is increasing to such a degree that some are suggesting she (and husband Michael) be given a title.
Of course, the Queen will take an active interest in her new heir or heiress. So there will be no shortage of strong female role models for the little Princess.
THE NAME GAME
The smart money is on Elizabeth, a nod to the Queen, and both Carole and Kate’s middle name. Contenders for the middle name are Carole, Diana, or Frances — Diana’s middle name, after her mother.
Although Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie have wangled themselves in front of Kate in the royal pecking order, they will have to curtsey to Kate and William’s child. There’s no way round that one, girls.
If the Duchess does have a girl, she might name her Elizabeth, as a nod to the Queen. It is also both Carole and Kate's middle name
There would be minimal pink plastic for a princess. This is where a royal girl would come into her own: perhaps she alone would be allowed to play with Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House, the exquisite mini-palace at Windsor, which was designed by architect Sir Edwin Lutyens.
Or ‘France’ and Marianne’, the blonde and brunette dolls presented by the French to the Queen and her sister Princess Margaret in 1938, who came with a 360-piece trousseau, including cases by Louis Vuitton, handbags by Hermès and Cartier jewellery.
Then there is ‘The Little House’ or Y Bwthyn Bach, a straw thatched cottage given to the Queen and Princess Margaret by the people of Wales in 1932. It is in the garden of the Duke of York’s house, Royal Lodge, at Windsor, and is the perfect spot for playing with elegant little tea sets on summer days.
The Duchess of Cambridge could have let slip what the world has been waiting to know during a walkabout in Grimsby
There’s no word on whether Kate will have a maternity nurse — if she does, she had better get them to sign a confidentiality agreement because they are usually terrible gossips.
There has been talk of her not having her nanny. She may go down the fashionable route (like Gwyneth Paltrow and many others) of having a housekeeper who does childcare duties. This allows the mother rather smugly to say at trendy West London supper parties: ‘I don’t have a nanny.’
If Kate does employ one, a girl will perhaps require a less boisterous type than William and Harry’s former companion Tiggy Legge-Bourke, who loved to romp around with the small princes. Those discreet sorts at the leading firms, Kensington Nannies and Norland, will be waiting for the call . . .
All the nearest nursery schools, including the Minors Nursery School in Pembridge Square, a short walk across Kensington Gardens, are co-ed. There are several girls’ schools close by, too — Pembridge Hall, sister school of Wetherby (Prince William’s alma mater), and Glendower in South Kensington.
But given how much Kate hated all-girls’ Downe House and loved mixed Marlborough, perhaps she will favour co-ed. In which case she might choose between Norland Place on Holland Park Avenue, famous for its emphasis on manners as well as academics, or the more theatrical Thomas’s in Kensington. Other parents at these bastions of privilege will include the English upper middle classes and the international super-rich, keen to give their children an English education — and befriend our future monarch.
Whichever establishment Kate chooses can probably get away with doubling the fees the moment the news leaks, given that there is talk of the socially aspirational who live close to Kensington Palace timing their pregnancies as close to Kate’s as possible.
Move over, Harper Beckham. With a mother who can make wellies sell by the shopload when she pulls them on, the marketing power of a princess would be boundless.
A July tot can cool off in frothy dresses with matching pants to cover her nappy. First port of call — though packages will probably arrive without asking — would be the Marie Chantal shop a short pram ride away. Princess Marie-Chantal of Greece designs some of the prettiest girls’ clothes in London, and William is godfather to one of her children, Charles another. These days, a Babygro with angel wings is a must. For later on, a floaty ‘Princess’ dress is £220.
A princess would have no shortage of strong female role models
Otherwise there is Rachel Riley in Pont Street — as well as Notting Hill’s fashionable ‘Ilovegorgeous’. Who did they have in mind when they designed a mauve ‘Catherine’ baby dress at £46?
As this would be the only girl in England who doesn’t need to indulge a Princess fantasy, we may well see tasteful restraint.
THE HEIR'S HAIR
Pippa Middleton could have plenty of advice for any princess parties
Roving hairdresser Amanda Cook Tucker cut William’s and Harry’s hair when they were boys and went on the Asian tour last year with Kate. She could do mother and daughter at the same time.
A BLING BED
It must be the most regal Moses basket in the world. Furniture shop for Chelsea rich kids, Dragons of Walton Street, makes one called the ‘Elizabeth Taylor’ which has hand-cut glass crystals and French Chantilly lace draping down from the basket. The hood can be made with a coronet on it (a snip at £5,995). Well, a princess can hardly sleep in one from Ikea.
These will be the most sought-after invitations — on the junior West London circuit, anyway. But granny Carole and Aunt Pippa will come into their own.
‘Celebrate with a cake’, as Pippa might have written in her book. The Middletons’ firm Party Pieces provides ‘Princess Castle’ and ‘1st Birthday Princess’ ranges of paper plates, cups, banners and other party goods — but that might be a touch naff in the circumstances.
P.S. Of course, there is always the possibility that when the Duchess said ‘I’ll take the teddy for my dau . . .’ she was about to say ‘dog’, or ‘darling son’, or even ‘delinquent husband . .
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