Susan Maxwell Skinner, now of Carmichael, covered the births of Princes William and Harry.

Q&A: Carmichael writer was there when Princes William and Harry were born

Published: Tuesday, Jul. 23, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1B
Last Modified: Wednesday, Jul. 24, 2013 - 7:26 am

Susan Maxwell Skinner of Carmichael is a New Zealander who knows much about the doings of England's royal family.

As a young writer, she moved to England to cover the royals as a freelance reporter, including the births in the 1980s of Princes William and Harry in the same London maternity wing where legions of media were encamped Monday.

Before the announcement that Prince William and wife Kate Middleton had welcomed their first child – a boy and an heir to the throne – into the world, Skinner answered questions about royal births, the press and protocol.

What is your experience covering the royal family?

I got to England to be at Diana and Charles' wedding. Then I got some book offers and I stayed on with the palace press corps for about eight years. I was basically traveling with Charles and Diana. But I did also cover other members of the royal family, including the queen.

What is it like to see the press outside the same spot you occupied for William and Harry's birth?

Déjà vu. We sat on that very same brick wall that you can see the press mob (Monday) morning. I sat on that wall for three days, through rain, sunshine, night and day.

What are your memories of how that vigil ended?

Eventually, Diana and Charles appeared. They posed very accommodatingly for the press. It was a very nice tableau. Diana was all smiles. She was carrying William. It was charming. She handed the baby to Charles. Then they got into car and went to ground. Didn't see them for a few weeks.

How did you spend your time waiting?

The press was fractious at the best of times. There were quarrels over territory. A good friend and very good photographer left for the loo and missed Diana coming out with William. She burst into tears.

What is the Lindo Wing where the press was gathered in your time and also this week?

It is the Lindo Wing of St. Mary's Hospital. It is a public hospital in Paddington, London. It is right in the center of London. Even though it is a public hospital, it has a private maternity wing.

When will we know the name?

Probably not for a few days. I could be wrong. Harry's name was announced very quickly. I have no doubt in my mind that William and Kate have already chosen the names, be it male or female.

Any thoughts on a possible name?

The name of the third in line to the throne of the commonwealth is important. You can't have a Tiffany or Queen Chardonnay. It has to be historically appropriate. It will typically flatter or honor a monarch who has gone before or a member of the child's family.

Compare William's birth and that of this baby in this age of social media.

For the first time, in the case of a royal heir, it will be announced by Twitter at roughly the same time the palace announces it. Golly, the queen tweets. The royal family is nothing if not communication-savvy. It has to be, given that it is an anachronistic institution. They have to operate in a way that makes them seem relevant.

Call The Bee's Bill Lindelof, (916) 321-1079. Follow him on Twitter @Lindelofnews.

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