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In the days surrounding the birth of his Royal Highness George Alexander Louis, information about his mother, Kate Middleton, was locked down like a medieval castle surrounded by a moat full of crocodiles. The media speculated endlessly, of course. But all they could verify were the tantalizing scraps doled out by the palace press office and those that could be observed in the fleeting moments the proud parents stood in front St. Mary's Hospital presenting their swaddled newborn to the world.
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Now, captivating new information has come out about the weeks leading up to the birth and the days that followed. October's Vanity Fair includes an exclusive excerpt from contributing editor and royal expert Katie Nicholl's upcoming biography, The Future Queen, which includes multiple interviews with sources close to the royal family and palace insiders. Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, may be known as the "People's Princess" and many details present a refreshingly normal young woman, both anxious and excited about the birth of her first child.
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Other tidbits are reminders that while Kate may be a commoner, she's also the wife to the second in line to Britain's throne and mother of the third, and she may one day be a queen.
- To prepare for the baby's arrival, Prince William dug his old toys out of the attic at their cottage at Kensington Palace, including his favorite teddy bear named "Wombat."
- The clothing and baby furniture purchased before the birth were in "gender neutral shades of cream," indicating the couple truly didn't know what their firstborn's sex would be. However, Kate suspected it might be a little boy because it kicked so much.
More interesting facts after the jump.
- Kate spent the sweltering last weeks of her pregnancy during Britain's unusually hot July at her parent's 18-acre estate in Bucklebury, watching DVD boxed sets and cooling off in the family pool. She enjoyed a rare chance to wear comfortable clothing and go make-up free.
- Her sweet nickname for her baby bump was "our little grape."
- On July 22, the royal couple arrived at the hospital in a mini-van around 5:30 a.m. and entered through a side entrance. According to reports, Kate was in labor for about nine hours and later told her girlfriends she experienced a perfect natural birth — which she had hoped for — with no complications. George Brown, a long-time friend of the Middleton family, said that Carole also gave birth to Kate naturally.
- The first person to learn about the birth, outside of the attendants at the hospital, was Queen Elizabeth whom Will called on an encrypted phone.
- After their aides announced the birth at 8:30 p.m., the royal couple settled in for an overnight stay in their hospital suite and had a protection officer fetch them a takeout dinner from Zizzi's Pizzeria. Their choice of toppings? Spicy sausage, pepperoni, salami, chilli, mushroom, mozzarella, arugula, and mascarpone cheese.
- Kate kept her personal hairdresser, Amanda Cook Tucker, on call for the entire month of July leading up to the birth. Tucker arrived at the hospital with an assistant to blow out the duchess's hair and help her get ready to face the throngs of reporters amassed outside of the hospital.
- Tucker also brought a selection of dresses including the charming sky blue polka dot frock by Jenny Packham that Kate ultimately chose to wear. Kate opted for a dress that flattered her new curves rather than try to hide the fact she still had a post-birth tummy bump.
- While Kate appeared perfectly groomed and poised when she came out of the hospital, Tucker later reported that she was very emotional after the birth and deeply nervous to face the press.
- After a night at Kensington Palace, the royal couple decamped back to Bucklebury — somewhat against the Queen's wishes because of the complications of setting up such a huge security team. A usually-compliant Kate stood her ground, and her husband supported her wishes.
- The couple did not hire a baby nurse but relied on Kate's mother, Carole, for assistance in caring for newborn George. "William said he didn't want a nanny or nurse coming in doing shifts . . ." said a friend. Carole and Kate's father, Michael, took turns helping the new parents, and Carole made fruit smoothies for breakfast, nourishing meals, and kept Kate supplied with her favorite granola bars.
- While Kate's parents are commoners, they are also multi-millionaires. Kate and Will stayed in their own suite, complete with a private bath and living room. While they also had use of a freshly decorated nursery, Kate preferred for little George to sleep in a basket at her bedside.
- For the first weeks, Carole kept Kate, Will, and baby George's living quarters a "sanctuary" of peace and quiet, allowing only her sister Pippa and a few others to visit. Friends sent gifts including orange-blossom-scented candles and bath oil from perfumer Jo Malone, Kate's favorite.
- When Kate and Will returned to their farmhouse on Anglesey, she retained only a housekeeper to help her with cleaning and grocery shopping. Friends report that she's devoted to baby George and that Will is "absolutely loving it and a natural father." Breaking with tradition, the royal couple plans on sending their first son to a normal pre-school rather than have him tutored by a governess.
Katie Nicholl's complete biography of Kate Middleton, The Future Queen, will be released Sept. 17.
- Sarah B. Weir