Babies are born every day, but only once or twice in a lifetime a child arrives who will inherit the throne. In the summer of 2013, the nation watched as Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, became a new mother, giving birth to Prince George, our future monarch. The public eye rested once again on the Duchess during her second pregnancy, with predictions, expectations and a flurry of media attention around the birth, but, apart from the flashing cameras and internet headlines, this is nothing new. Royal babies have excited interest since before their births for more than a millennium. When a queen or princess conceived, the direction of a dynasty was defined and the health and survival of the child would shape British history.
Amy Licence explores the stories of some of these royal babies and the unusual circumstances of their arrivals, from the time of the Normans to the twenty-first century. 1470 saw the arrival of Edward, a longed-for son after three daughters, born in sanctuary to Edward IV and his beautiful but unpopular wife, Elizabeth Wydeville; he was briefly King Edward V at the age of twelve, but would disappear from history as the elder of the two Princes in the Tower. In 1511, amid lavish celebrations, Catherine of Aragon gave birth to the boy that would have been the future Henry IX, whose survival would perhaps have kept Henry from having six wives; alas, he was to die after just seven weeks. In 1817 came George, the stillborn son of Charlotte, Princess of Wales; had she not died as a result of the birth, she would have been queen instead of Victoria.
This book explores the importance and the circumstances of these and many other arrivals, returning many long-forgotten royal babies to the history books.