The final countdown has begun for the arrival of the second royal baby. While Prince William and Kate Middleton are most likely impatiently awaiting the birth, they are very "touched" by the public's reaction. In a statement released Thursday, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge said they are "hugely grateful for the warm wishes they have received from people throughout the UK and indeed around the world over the last few months."
It continued: "They know that people are excited Prince George will soon have a little brother or sister and it means a great deal to them that so many will be celebrating this important moment for their family."
With that, the final preparations are being made for when Kate goes into labor – but what exactly will happen on the day itself? Some of the many questions royal watchers had about what to expect have now been answered.
When Kate welcomed Prince George in 2013, Kensington Palace announced the birth and the name of the baby swiftly and followed a straightforward process. This time around, William and Kate will roughly follow the same protocol, royal aides revealed on Thursday at a press briefing.
The pregnant Duchess, who is currently residing in her country house of Anmer Hall in Norfolk, will return to London closer to her due date in mid-to-late April. Kate is scheduled to give birth at the exclusive Lindo Wing of St. Mary's Hospital in Paddington, as she did with George. Her medical team will consist of some of the same key doctors who were present at George's arrival, including doctors Alan Farthing and Guy Thorpe-Beeston.
Dr. Farthing, the Queen's surgeon-gynecologist, who has worked with the royal family since 2008, has already assisted Kate at the start of her pregnancy when she was suffering with severe morning sickness. If the Duchess finds herself out of London and at her parents Michael and Carole Middleton's house in Berkshire, a contingency plan at the Royal Berkshire Hospital has also been put in place. Staff at Cambridge's Addenbrooke hospital have also been prepped.
This time around, photographers and reporters are not allowed to wait outside the Lindo Wing until after Kate goes into labor Photo: Getty Images
Unlike when Kate gave birth to her first-born in July 2013, reporters and photographers will not be allowed to wait outside the hospital until after the Duchess has gone into labor. Royal aides have appealed for the press to respect the family's privacy.
When Kate is admitted to the hospital, this will be announced to the media via a press release, followed by posts on Kensington Palace's Twitter and Instagram accounts roughly two minutes later. A second statement will confirm the arrival of the little Prince or Princess and include details on the baby's gender, time of birth and his or her weight. William and Kate are keeping the sex of their baby a surprise, as they did with George.
If the new baby arrives after 10pm, the press will not be notified until after 8am the following morning. Members of the couple's families including their parents and siblings will be notified of the birth before the public.
The royal baby's birth will be announced with a traditional notice outside Buckingham Palace Photo: Getty Images
Following this, the traditional notice of birth will be placed on an easel outside of Buckingham Palace for well-wishers to see. The notice will be driven from the hospital to London by a palace footman. It is not yet known whether George, who turns 2 in July, will go to the hospital to meet his little brother or sister.
The new family-of-four are expected to stay in their London base of Kensington Palace for a few days after the birth and then travel to Norfolk to recuperate and bond with the newborn.