independent

Saturday 19 April 2014

Minister will not be at royal birth

It was once customary for home secretaries to attend royal births

Theresa May has said she will not be present at the birth of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's baby - as a centuries-old custom for the Home Secretary to attend royal births no longer exists.

The Home Affairs Select Committee heard that it was once customary for home secretaries to attend royal births to ensure that it was genuine and a child had not been smuggled in.

The Queen is understood to be the last monarch to be brought into the world in front of a home secretary - who at the time of her birth was Conservative Sir William Joynson-Hicks.

Michael Ellis MP, who was chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and often contributes to television coverage of royal matters, asked: "Until relatively recently there was a convention that home secretaries attended royal births, I understand this happened with Her Majesty the Queen.

"Do you have any plans to visit the Lindo wing any time soon, following this convention?"

He added: "I'm being mischievous."

To which Mrs May replied: "In fact, it is no longer the case that the HS is required to attend a royal birth, but I suspect Mr Ellis with your royal connections you might have more information about these things than I do."

Asked why the home secretary was once required to attend royal births, Mrs May said: "It goes back many centuries... the home secretary had to be there to evidence that it was genuinely a royal birth and that a baby hadn't been smuggled in."

Press Association

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