Royal Baby Watch

Royalty Chuck and Di Paper doll book cover illustration Prince Charles Princess Diana

“Chuck & Di Have a Baby” Paper Doll Book 1982 by John Boswell, Patty Brown and Will Elder
Front and back cover

The royal baby watch is in its final countdown.

Journalists and photographers from around the globe are camped out in front of St Marys Hospital in Paddington, West London where the future King or Queen of England will be born. It’s the very same private hospital where soon-to-be papa Prince William was born.

The newest royal hasn’t even been born yet but the souvenir market is cashing in.For months commemorative memorabilia has gone into production for Baby Cambridge, flooding UK shops.

It’s déjà vu all over again.

Prince William

Prince William as a baby 1982

Prince William as a baby 1982

The last time the world went on a rabid royal baby watch was 31 years ago in June of 1982 when Princess Diana and Prince Charles welcomed the birth of Prince William.

Even without twitter, instagram and facebook, it was a veritable circus with reporters photographers, and well wishers staked outside the hospital, while stores were stacked with commemorative booties, blankets and biscuits

Just as today, the wave of royal baby fever spread across the pond to the US and the anticipation was palpable. The buzz was as frenzied over Diana’s first baby as it is over Kate Middletons as office pools speculated whether baby would be a boy or a girl.

For a brief moment in the late spring of 1982, Reagan era Americans forgot about Thriller, ET and the rising cost of gas (a whopping 91 cents a gallon) and got caught up in a real life fairy tale happening overseas.

Royalty Prince Charles Princess Diana Paperdoll dolls

“Chuck & Di Have a Baby” Paper Doll Book 1982 by John Boswell, Patty Brown and Will Elder
Cut out dolls of Prince Charles and Princess Diana to dress up (R) When the book was published the sex of the baby was unknown, so baby Wales is safely dressed in yellow

American fans of that golden couple, Prince Charles and Princess Diana could have fun browsing through the commemorative memorabilia.

For the millions who couldn’t get enough of this 20th century fairy tale there appeared a paper-doll book   cheekily called “Chuck & Di Have a Baby” by John Boswell Patty Brown and Will Elder. Published by Simon and Schuster right before the actual birth of the Duke of Cambridge in 1982, it featured cut-outs of Charles and Diana and the anxiously awaited Royal Baby.

Royalty paperdoll cutuouts Charles and Diana

“Chuck & Di Have a Baby” Paper Doll Book 1982 by John Boswell, Patty Brown and Will Elder
Outfits for Charles and shy Di’s early dates.

Royalty Charles and Diana  paperdoll illustrations wedding

“Chuck & Di Have a Baby” Paper Doll Book 1982 by John Boswell, Patty Brown and Will Elder
Dress up for the engagement announcement and the Big Wedding

We were still aglow from the fairy tale wedding of the century that had taken place the previous July. Charles was still Prince Charming, his beautiful shy Princess was still smitten with him; any whiff of scandal lay far into the future.

Less than a year later, The Princess of Wales was pregnant and like most modern couples, Prince Charles and his wife took natural childbirth classes.

Preggers!

The media baby watch had reached fever pitch and at one time Diana was even photographed on the beach in a bikini. It got too much for Diana she asked her doctor to induce labor choosing a date that would not conflict with the Prince of Wales busy polo schedule.

On the early hours of June 21 she and Prince Charles headed to St Marys Hospital in London’s Paddington area. This most thoroughly modern  baby would be the first British heir to the throne to be born in a hospital.

Diana had overruled the Queen who wanted to follow tradition and have the future monarch birth take place within palace walls.. The birth would take place in a 12 by 12 foot $218 a day room in the Lindo Wing of London’s St Marys Hospital.

Like a good Prince, Charles was at his wife’s side throughout the delivery. making it the first time a British heir to the throne had witnessed his own child’s birth.

Royalty Chuck Di paperdoll nursery illustration

“Chuck & Di Have a Baby” Paper Doll Book 1982 by John Boswell, Patty Brown and Will Elder
The royal baby nursery background where visitors can be placed

By contrast his own father, Prince Philip had been playing squash with an equerry while Charles was being born.

Crowds gathered outside the hospital and were overjoyed when a boy weighing 7 pounds 1.5 ounces arrived at 9:03 “crying lustily.”

In lieu of social media, a hand lettered cardboard sign was posted on the hospital gates : “It’s a Boy.” Church bells pealed, cannons boomed and throughout the kingdom toasts were made welcoming the future king.

Royalty illustrations Queen Elizabeth, margaret Thatcher, Prince Philip

Visitors to the Royal Nursery included notables such as his royal grandparents Queen Elizabeth, The Duke of Edinburgh, romance novelist Barbara Cartland, Diana’s grandmother, Williams Aunt Princess Anne( with horse) and of course Mrs. Margaret Thatcher. When the Queen visited the baby she was quoted as saying “Thank goodness he doesn’t have ears like his fathers.”
The day after Williams birth, 1800 gifts had arrived at Buckingham Palace to fill his nursery

Outside Buckingham Palace a crier in full regalia rang a bell as he shouted the news of the Princes arrival. A crowd that had gathered outside the hospital burst into renditions of “For He’s a Jolly Good fellow” and “Rule Britannia”

Only 22 hours after the difficult birth Diana walked out of the hospital with a proud papa Charles who cradled Baby Wales in a lace shawl. As he left  Charles greeted fans saying”I’m obviously relieved and delighted…It’s rather a grown up thing I find-it’s rather a shock to the system (the baby) looks marvelous- fair sort of blondish…he’s not bad.”

"Chuck & Di Have a Baby" Paper Doll Book illustrations

“Chuck & Di Have a Baby” Paper Doll Book 1982 by John Boswell, Patty Brown and Will Elder
A Royal Christening (R) Unisex Outfits for the royal baby

To the cheers of the throng they paused for photographs and sped off for their new home. Only 5 weeks earlier the couple had moved from their cold, impersonal rooms at Buckingham palace into spacious new quarters at Kensington Palace.

The first full week of his life the infant was simply known as “Baby Wales” When finally speculation on the baby’s name ended when the palace announced that he would be named William Arthur Philip Louis.

Chuck & Di Have a Baby" Paper Doll Book  illustration crown royal

“Chuck & Di Have a Baby” Paper Doll Book 1982 by John Boswell, Patty Brown and Will Elder
Sadly, the book closes looking forward to a future King Charles and Queen Diana that was not meant to be. Perhaps the royal robes will fit William and Kate

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6 comments

  1. Cheeky stuff indeed! Diana is a bit more “robust” looking than she actually was, too.

    Like

  2. Oh this was a fun post! I remember too, although i was a only six at the time LOL I am happy for Kate and William but I dont consider their impending birth more imp than any birth of a beautiful child into this world. Their baby will be no better than any others. I wish more people saw it that way. Oh well…LOL

    Like

  3. Jim Bello

    Sally, Looking through your wonderful collections of work , I’m truly amazed and entertained because I love looking at vintage Illustration. I love how extensive your portfolio is and also your editorials that go with them too.

    best regards,
    Jim Bello

    Like

    • Thanks, Jim I am glad you enjoy my blog. I am an incurable collector and have amassed a formidable collection of vintage ads, illustrations, periodicals etc going back over 80 years. Thanks to the digital age I am able to share them. I hope you will continue to enjoy reading my blog and commenting.

      Like

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