How the World Will Learn About the Royal Baby's Birth

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
July 15 2013 10:13 AM

The Official Royal Birth Announcement Will Likely Include a Low-Speed Helicopter Chase

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Self-proclaimed 'Loyalist Royalist' Margaret Tyler stands with both 'It's a Girl!' and 'It's a Boy!' balloons outside the Lindo Wing of Saint Mary's Hospital in London, on July 15, 2013, where Prince William and his wife Catherine's baby will be born

Photo by Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images

Those of you already dreading the wall-to-wall coverage that will follow the birth of Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge's first child may want to avert your eyes (and take some time pondering why you clicked on this headline in the first place), but somewhat buried in a New York Times piece about media coverage of the birth is this interesting primer on what will actually happen when St. James Palace is ready to make its formal decree:

The birth’s confirmation process is rooted in tradition, but it will be televised in high-definition, which was something else that didn’t exist the last time there was a royal baby. The duchess’s doctors will sign a birth notice. The notice will be hand-carried to a car. The car will be driven to Buckingham Palace. Then the notice will be placed on an easel in the forecourt of the palace, informing the world of the baby’s birth and possibly his or her name.
All the while, a news helicopter belonging to the British broadcaster Sky News, whose pictures will be shared with every network, will be hovering overhead, almost as if covering a slow-speed car chase. But that’s assuming the helicopter, stationed south of the city, can get there in time. News executives expect to get five to 10 minutes notice, at most, before the car starts on its short journey. A Sky News spokeswoman, aware that the world’s news media are counting on its coverage, said she anticipates that the crew will have “enough time to get airborne.”
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TV producers tell the Times that they've been assured that the baby's birth would be announced only between 8 a.m. and 10:30 p.m. local time (or between 3 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. eastern standard). But the media circus will no doubt begin well before then—probably when someone spots the Duchess sneaking in a side door at the hospital.

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City.