No hospital has yet been selected by the royal couple.
According to the London Daily Mail, "[F]riends of Kate Middleton have said she and her family want the baby to be born at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading, where she and her sister Pippa were born." Oddly for someone recently admitted to the innermost royal circle, Kate has opted to live not with her own husband at his post in Anglesey, Wales, nor in St. James’s Palace with her father and step-mother-in laws, but with her parents in Bucklebury, when she and her mother are not bunking in a private villa amusingly referred to as a "cottage" in Kensington Palace.
It’s an odd living arrangement. Originally, it was thought that Kate and William’s baby would be born at St. Mary’s Hospital in Paddington, where Prince William, his brother, and a slew of other royal babies have been recently born.
But the location of the latest royal birth was then thought to depend upon where Kate’s obstetrician was practicing. Most babies who come into the world on a reasonable schedule are born in hospitals where their mother’s obstetrician practices medicine, and that is usually just one or two hospitals. Kate’s obstetrician was not actually identified until her emergency hospitalization for allegedly rampant morning sickness at King Edward VII Hospital, and even then, the full identification was unclear. Both Dr. Marcus Setchell, the Queen’s previous gynecologist-obstetrician, and Dr. Alan Farthing, Setchell’s recent replacement, turned up to treat Kate in her distress.
Mum’s the word from both physicians on all future aspects of Kate’s pregnancy, and where she will give birth. But if her baby is born at the Middleton’s mansion in Bucklebury, a place where Kate’s friends insist that she feels more "safe and secure," it will be the first official royal "home birth" in quite some time.
Home births for royals used to be where the action was: Queen Elizabeth II’s children were all born at home, or at least, in homes (and these were pretty grand places). While Prince Charles, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward were born at Buckingham Palace, and their sister, Anne, the Princess Royal, was born at Clarence House (home of Elizabeth the Queen Mother). Queen Elizabeth herself was born at her paternal grandfather’s London townhouse, 17 Bruton Street, in Mayfair (a very nice neighborhood indeed), even though her birth was by Caesarean section, a fairly intricate operation. Her sister, Princess Margaret, was born in Glamis Castle, their mother’s Scottish ancestral home. Following the royal ways, Margaret’s son, David, Viscount Linley, was born at Clarence House, and her daughter, Lady Sarah Chatto, was born at Kensington Palace.
And that was the way it was!
Until Princess Anne came along and changed everything by giving birth in a hospital. Her son, Peter Philips, the Queen’s first grandchild, was born in 1977 at St. Mary’s Hospital in Paddington. Anne’s daughter, Zara, was also delivered there, in 1981. Prince Charles’s sons by Princess Diana were delivered at St. Mary’s as well. And it was not just the hospital St. Mary’s that was so distinctive, but the obstetrician who put the change from palace to hospital birthing in place–Dr. George Douglas Pinker, later Sir George Douglas Pinker.
Pinker delivered no fewer than nine royal babies, all at St. Mary’s Hospital, including the children of Prince Richard the Duke of Gloucester, and Duchess of Gloucester (Alexander Windsor, Earl of Ulster, Lady Rose Gilman (nee Windsor), and Lady Davina Lewis (nee Windsor); the children of Prince Michael of Kent and his irrepressible wife, the former Baroness Marie Christine Anna Agnes Hedwig Ida von Reibnitz (Lord Frederick Windsor and Lady Gabriella Windsor), as well as Prince Charles’s and Princess Anne’s children. Pinker became the Queen’s personal surgeon gynecologist in 1973, and so remained until he was replaced by Dr. Marcus Setchell in 1990.
You may remember Setchell from Kate’s recent hospitalization at King Edward VII.
Dr. Setchell has delivered babies almost exclusively at Portland Hospital, known as the London hospital where it was "too posh to push." However, Dr. Setchell can change counties when required. He delivered Prince Edward’s first child, Lady Louise Windsor, at Frimley Hospital in Surry, near Bagshot Park, the private estate where Edward lives with his wife, Sophie, Countess of Wessex, when (about a month before her due date) Sophie suffered a sudden placental abruption, including a severe loss of blood that placed both mother and baby in grave danger and necessitated an emergency Caesarean section. Setchell also delivered the Wessexes’ son, James, Viscount Severn, at Frimley by Caesarean section, albeit under less urgent circumstances. Prior to the birth of her children, Sophie had suffered an ectopic pregnancy and was treated by Setchell at Portland.
Prince Andrew’s two daughters, Beatrice and Eugenie, were both born at Portland Hospital. And in 2007, Setchell peformed a hysterectomy on Prince Charles’s second wife, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, at Portland. Early on, when Setchell was seen onsite treating Kate for her rampant anorexia–oops, I mean, morning sickness, former patients averred that if Setchell was to be involved in delivering Kate and William’s baby, the only possible place would be Portland Hospital. However, Dr. Farthing, who now appears to be officially in charge, delivers mostly at Queen Charlotte Hospital and at St. Mary’s in Paddington.
Ah, back to St. Mary’s. Go figure!
Farthing was already well-known to the British public as the then-fiancé of Jill Dando, a popular television personality and bleached-blond Princess Diana lookalike who hosted a television show, "Crimewatch." Dando was shot dead in the midmorning of April 26, 1999, in front of her West London home, just five months before she was scheduled to marry Farthing, who was reportedly separated from his first wife, Maria, a hospital nurse, when he met Dando. Barry George, a convicted sex offender, was found guilty of murdering Dando in 2001, but was acquitted in a retrial six years later after forensic evidence was thrown out. Barry George was himself a little bit of a weirdo, having changed his name to Barry Bulsara, the birth name of his admitted idol, rock star Freddie Mercury. Barry George/Bulsara actually lived nearby Dando. He was said to have actually been obsessed with another blond object of desire, Diana, Princess of Wales, and had allegedly been arrested for stalking her. This arrest, police theorized, forced George/Bulsara to switch his obsession from Diana to Dando, who looked similar to Diana and was an easier target.
There are no other solid leads, despite colorful rumors that Dando was assassinated on the orders of Arkan, a Serbian warlord’s henchman, due to her support of Albanian refugees, or alternatively, in revenge for NATO’s bombing of Belgrade.
What is known with some certainty is that Dando was expertly gunned down on her own doorstep by a single bullet to her head from a 9 mm. Browning semi-automatic handgun, the classic assassin’s weapon of choice, after leaving Farthing’s home, where she was living almost full-time by then. She reportedly had gone to her own home to retrieve her mail, stopping along the way to buy a toner cartridge, fax paper, and two filets of Dover Sole. Whoever murdered her was said to have possessed some professional skills in that capacity, which George/Bulsara seemed unlikely to have developed. Nor was robbery the motive–indeed, the killer left behind, still on Dando’s finger, Farthing’s diamond engagement ring worth over $30,000.00. And burglary was not in question because even though Dando’s killer violently gripped her arm as she was putting her housekey into the lock, he apparently never even tried to enter her home, killing her on her doorstep and then, effectively disappearing.
Police searches for a bright blue Range Rover seen not only at the murder scene but also earlier, nearby Farthing’s home, was thought to be the vehicle by which the hitman or hitmen followed Dando and then escaped, but it was never located. People on a bus that passed by Dando’s house at the time of the killing said they saw a man animatedly talking on a cell phone, and others recalled a sweaty man who took a bus and got off at a subway station. And a spate of similar murders–shooting targets in front of their homes–committed by assassins from the former Yugoslavia–made the "Arkan" theory suddenly seem plausible again. However, to this day, Dando’s murder remains not only unsolved, but cold, cold, cold.
According to The Mail Online, police investigators theorized that Dando might have been murdered by someone close to Farthing, and so they questioned him extensively. "What they hoped to find from the handsome, despairing doctor," reported The Mail, "were possible pointers to previous relationships where jealousy might have been turned into obsession by his very public engagement to Jill. His job as a gynaecologist inevitably raised further questions of potential secret passions and the unrequited love of female patients."
Nothing of this aspect of the Dando murder investigation has been further released to the public. Meanwhile, Farthing has moved on, marrying a physician from St. Mary’s, and having a young son. But the irony that the man whose fiancé may have been murdered because of her similarity to the Princess of Wales may now be delivering Diana’s first grandchild is lost on few observers.
Oh, am I being too creepy here?
Just imagine the royal baby being born at Middleton Bucklebury Manor, with Midwife Carole in attendance. Now THAT is creepy!
And it could happen! Meanwhile, though, where and when the royal baby will be born remains a mystery.