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As British news network Sky News‘ royal correspondent, Rhiannon Mills covers all aspects of royal life.
She has been gearing up for the birth of the second child of Kate Middleton and Prince William, which is expected in the coming days.
Mills, who joined Sky News in July 2010, talked to The Hollywood Reporter about how she has been preparing, how coverage of the second royal baby may be different from the July 2013 arrival of Prince George, and whether she expects to get any sleep.
How have you been preparing for the second royal baby’s birth? What do you expect will be in focus as you and others cover this story?
I’m mainly reading up at the moment on everything I can possibly cram about royal babies. It’s a lot of reading; it’s background information I can possibly get. The palace [is] quite good at giving us some information about what the royal couple will be doing, especially after they leave the hospital. Most of it is just getting on top of the facts, the figures, looking back to when Prince George was born. I suppose a lot of what we will be doing is comparing what happens this time to what happened last time.
How do you expect coverage to be different from the first baby?
This time there has been a different build-up. With Prince George, we saw a huge amount of hype, there was a big build-up, there were a lot of people waiting outside of the hospital. This time, the palace [has] chosen to prevent that from happening to a degree. They recently put up barriers outside the hospital, but asked people not to report from outside hospital until the duchess goes into labor. I think that has kind of muted the excitement to a degree. Also, like in any family, when the second child comes along, it is a different experience.
Last time around, we saw what it was like when they came out of hospital [and more]. The first time, there were a lot more unknowns. This time, we have a better idea of what potentially we are going to see once she has had the baby and once they leave the hospital. I think when she goes into labor, certainly talking to a lot of international media crews, people are desperate to get to the hospital and start talking about it.
Does every TV reporter and correspondent get a guaranteed spot at the hospital or will it be a free-for-all?
It’s definitely not a free-for-all. They learned a little bit from last time, because there was just such huge international interest in Prince George and maybe to a degree the palace didn’t anticipate that there would be such a huge number of media crews. So what they’ve done this time is, there are defined barriers in place. We have all been allocated our own little spots, which I think are 2 meters by 1.5 meters. That’s the area we will have. It is going to be myself and Kay Burley presenting down there. We will also have our digital reporter Joe Tidy there. For us, it is about making sure people get the news first on TV and also making sure to reach you if you are on your phone, iPad or tablet.
Do you expect to get any down time or rest time once you get called into action?
Once she goes into labor, we have been told by the palace that there won’t be any announcements overnight. Maybe that will give us some downtime and some sleep in the late hours of the day and early hours of the morning. Certainly, for us, it is about making sure we are there when those major announcements come through, so that we can get them on the TV and online first. With any events like this, there is a huge level of excitement. The adrenaline keeps you going.
How will you guys find out about the duchess going into labor?
I’m afraid it’s just like any other email. We’re told that once she has gone into labor and settled in hospital, we will get an email notification that it has happened. They haven’t been clear about what information will exactly be in that email. It could potentially be the time she went in and whether or not Prince William is with her. We won’t necessarily get a huge amount of information. Once that email goes out, it will also get sent out on the … palace Twitter feed.
Do you expect international interest in the second royal baby to be less intense?
I presumed that because this was the second baby, there may be less interest. However, the duke and duchess have such enormous international appeal. I was recently in Japan when Prince William visited Japan, and it is incredible to see the warmth from the other part of the world. People were genuinely excited to meet a real-life prince. And the second baby is an extension of this family, which continues to be watched right around the world. People hold them in quite high affection. I think they really want to see how they are with a larger family.
The other possibility, of course, is we might have a little princess. If we have a little girl, the excitement levels could be even higher, because it would add a different dynamic. Some people [had] been jokingly saying wouldn’t it be lovely if the baby was born on the 21st of April, which is the queen’s birthday, and if they called her Elizabeth, after the queen.
Has the palace provided a target date for the birth to you?
Nobody has told us. We have had no official confirmation on the duchess’ due date. What we do know is that Kate herself told a volunteer at a children’s center in March that her baby was due in mid- to late April. It could be any time now. There has been speculation that it could be around April 25. If you look at bookmakers, people have been betting on everything, from April 20 right through until May 7, which is the day of the general election.
Speaking of the election in Britain, how will that affect the intensity of coverage of the royal baby?
I suspect that the coverage will probably be as big as when Prince George was born. Obviously, we are putting a lot of resources into covering the general election. It’s a huge story here in the U.K., but everybody loves a baby. And I think as soon as we know the duchess has gone into labor, we will be right across it and will want to know exactly what’s going on. We want to break the news first.
What other information will you try to get first? What can set a TV reporter apart on this kind of story?
Once the baby is born and the close family has been told, that is when the world at large will be given more information. It will be confirmed that the baby was born, whether it’s a boy or a girl, what weight the baby was. And we may get a little bit of information, for example “mother and baby are doing well.” After that, it will be myself and others on the ground talk to palace officials to try and get a little bit more information: How is Kate doing? Was it a straightforward birth like she had with Prince George? When are we likely to see the couple again?
Last time, it was a day before the couple actually left the hospital and we could finally see Prince George wrapped up in that blanket. However, if you are a mother and you have just given birth and you are going to be greeted by a lot of cameras, I suspect you will want to have your hair done, get your stylist and maybe get a good night’s sleep.
What have you been reading up on in particular? Anything you feel will be particularly important to highlight or look for?
There is so much. With every royal story for me, it is about making sure that you consider the background information, the historical context. With Prince George, we were talking about him being next in line to the throne. It was all about the constitutional implications.
What is interesting about William and Kate is how protective they are of their children’s privacy. When they leave hospital, they will go to Kensington Palace in London for a couple of nights. And then they go out to Norfolk to their new private residence in Anmer Hall. I think Anmer Hall [which the queen gave them as a wedding present] will be the focus for the family, somewhere that they will hope to get privacy and bring up their children in a relatively normal childhood.
When Prince Harry was born, Prince William was taken to the Lindo Wing [of St. Mary’s Hospital] to see his new brother. There is some wonderful TV footage of a very little Prince William. Whether we will see Prince George walk up those steps, we will see. We will be hoping for that shot, however, we have been told that will be a consideration that the couple makes on the day.
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