William and Kate 'don't know' royal baby's sex

The royal baby will be delivered in the private Lindo Wing of St Mary's Hospital

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The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have "decided not to find out" the sex of their baby, royal officials say.

The baby will be delivered in the private Lindo Wing of St Mary's Hospital in Paddington, west London - where Princess Diana had her sons.

The baby is due in mid-July, and Prince William hopes he will be present if his RAF duties allow.

St James's Palace officials have appealed for an "appropriate degree of sensitivity" regarding the birth.

It is understood Prince William will take two weeks' paternity leave - as allowed by the Ministry of Defence - but royal officials said the length of the duchess's maternity leave is a personal matter for her.

As with their courtship, engagement and wedding so too with this birth.

A very personal moment in the lives of William and Kate will be played out on a very public stage.

The unborn child offers an ancient institution the prospect of a future stretching into another generation.

As the Queen put it after Prince William's birth, "I am very pleased we have another heir".

William, like his father, plans to be by his wife's side. Prince Philip was playing squash when his eldest son came into the world.

And although Kate has joined a family steeped in history, she will be spared some past customs.

The practice of the home secretary being present at a royal birth ended in 1936.

And there'll be no Archbishop of Canterbury in the delivery suite.

For the birth of Queen Victoria's first son, the then archbishop turned up, as if for a state occasion, wearing a horse hair wig.

'Prospect of renewal'

The birth was a "very personal matter for the duke and duchess," officials said. "But they also know it's a time to celebrate and many will want to share in their joy."

Asking for "sensitivity", officials added that events at the King Edward VII Hospital - where a nurse was found hanged after a prank call to the hospital when the duchess was being treated for morning sickness - were "still strong in the memory".

BBC royal correspondent Peter Hunt added that the birth will "offer the ancient institution of the monarchy the prospect of further renewal in the future."

Once the duchess goes into labour, there will be no further public statement until the baby is born and the Queen, the Middleton family and other senior Royals have been told.

The baby will be delivered by Marcus Setchell, the Queen's gynaecologist.

Hospital not impeded

When the baby is born, an official announcement will be signed by medical staff and driven to Buckingham Palace - almost certainly under police escort.

St Mary's Hospital

Prince William with his parents, Princess Diana and Prince Charles
  • Prince William was introduced to the world on the steps of the hospital in 1982.
  • It was opened in 1851 - the last of the great "voluntary" charity hospitals.
  • Sir Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin here by chance in 1928.
  • It was the base of one of the founding fathers of modern forensic medicine, Sir Bernard Spilsbury, who worked on the notorious Crippen murder case.
  • Dr Charles Alder Wright was the first person to synthesize heroin while working at the hospital in 1874
  • Famous former students include Sir Roger Bannister, the first man to run a four minute mile, and Welsh rugby legend JPR Williams.
  • Royals Peter and Zara Phillips, musician Elvis Costello and actor Kiefer Sutherland were born at the hospital.

The notice will then be placed at the palace central gates. This will form the official announcement, as was the case when Prince William's birth was announced 31 years ago this Friday.

Reports suggest there will also be a gun salute to mark the birth.

But the name of the child - who will be third in line to the throne - remains a subject for speculation. It is not yet known how long after the birth an announcement will be made.

When Prince Harry was born, the public were told his name the day his mother left hospital. But it took almost a week for his older brother's name to be announced.

Princess Diana gave birth to both William, in 1982, and Harry, in 1984, in the Lindo Wing where fees for a delivery start at £5,000.

A palace spokesman asked the media to "ensure that the normal functions of the hospital are not impeded" by the presence of journalists.

The duchess attended the Trooping the Colour ceremony on Saturday - the last time she is expected to be seen in public before the baby is due.

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