By Maria Puente, USA TODAY
The presentation of the prince wasn't much like the way Prince
Charles, then 33, and Princess Diana, then 20, showed off their first
baby, Prince William, to the world the day after he was born. In fact,
what a difference 31 years makes. But the ritual blended tradition and
modernity, one of the reasons William and Duchess Kate are so popular
with the British and worldwide.
Especially now. Kate, 31, gave
birth on Monday to an 8-pound, 6-ounce boy, still unnamed, in the same
hospital, St. Mary's, where William was born. She and William, also 31,
presented their Baby Prince Cambridge to a wildly excited throng outside
the hospital on Tuesday.
Those watching could not help thinking
of the day in June 1982 when Charles and Diana performed the same dance
for the media. Here's a look at what's changed and what's stayed the
1982: Charles walked out holding baby William, then gave him to Diana
2013: Kate walked out holding her newborn, then gave him to William
Royal remix: The royal one took the lead back then; this new couple is more of an equal partnership.
1982: Nothing; they smiled and posed. She later said she was nervous and teary.
Both were practically chatty. Kate said giving birth was an "emotional"
and "very special" experience. William joked about the baby's weight,
lungs and tardiness, promised a name soon, acknowledged the media mob's
long wait and subtly pleaded to be left alone for at least a while.
Even a wary royal like William knows he has to feed the media beast;
it's good for the media and for the royals. Charles expected and
received more deference in his day. Kate, more than a decade older than
Diana at the time, looked relaxed, happy and serene.
1982: She wore a maternity dress, a
voluminous kelly-green smock dress with white polka-dots and a white
collar by British designer Catherine Walker. He wore a formal striped
suit with a striped tie and blue shirt.
2013: She wore a
bespoke crepe-de chine dress of cornflower blue with white polka dots
with a belted waist (plainly showing the remains of her baby bump), by
British designer Jenny Packham. He wore a casual blue shirt, no tie,
dark slacks belted with a worked leather belt.
Royal remix: Packham
made it for this occasion, and proudly cooed about it within minutes of
the reveal. Walker's dress was a maternity dress that was the only
frock Diana had with her at the time of the birth. Charles has been most
comfortable in his impeccable suits practically since he was a toddler;
William lives in casual wear but dresses up smartly.
crowds but a relatively smaller media contingent; there were only two
national broadcast networks in Britain at the time.
2013: Huge cheering crowds, clutching camera phones, and a media mob hundreds strong from around the world.
Interest in royal babies remains intense; the technological capacity to
indulge that interest has exploded and expanded worldwide.
1982: They both got in the back of a British black luxury car to be driven by chauffeur away from the hospital.
They got into a British black luxury car; he was driving, a security
agent in the front seat, and she got in the back with the baby.
William not only likes to drive himself, he's handy with a car seat,
prompting speculation about whether he practiced ahead of time. Charles
would not have had a clue about car seats.
1982: To their apartment at Kensington Palace
2013: To their apartment at Kensington Palace
Royal remix: The palace once derided as the "aunt heap" by Edward VIII is still the indispensable public housing for high-ranking royals.
THE SIZE OF THE BABY
1982: 7 pounds, 1½ ounces; she labored 16 hours.
2013: 8 pounds, 6 ounces; she labored about 10 hours.
1982: Could barely be seen in its swaddling blanket, but he was not crying.
Could barely be seen from some angles, but was in full view from other
angles. He was awake and not crying, and even sort of gave a little
Royal remix: The royal media operation today is more savvy about the positive effects of good camera angles.
1982: A white swaddling blanket, in their arms in the car.
2013: A white swaddling blanket, then in a car seat that William carried out of the hospital and placed in the back seat.
Modern royals want their babies to be safe. And the makers of baby
products (Britax Baby Safe car seat and aden+anais cotton muslin
swaddle) instantly send out messages bragging about their link with
1982: Charles was there for
it, the first future monarch to witness the birth of his heir; William
was the first future monarch to be born in a hospital.
William was there for it. He was the first future monarch to spend the
night in the hospital with his wife after the birth of his heir.
The days of royal births taking place only in royal palaces or
residences with scores of people, including government ministers, to act
as witnesses, are gone forever after persisting well into the 20th
1982: Note on a gilded easel at the gates of Buckingham Palace, followed by a paper press release.
2013: A series of tweets and electronic press releases, followed by the note on the gilded easel at the palace.
Royal remix: This was the first birth of a future king announced via a tweet, and before the more antique manner of announcement.