Princess Diana's Pregnancy: Never Before Revealed Details of Her Sons' Birth

Charles and Diana's first official engagement together as a married couple was in Wales in October 1981. Diana did not even look her best. The Princess was pregnant, though the world would not know it until the following month, on 5 November 1981. It was all smiles and congratulations at the news of the royal baby. A beloved Princess, who so loved children, was going to have one of her own and produce an heir to the throne. 

On top of the bouts of illness caused by her bulimia, which was not diagnosed at that stage, Diana was suffering from morning sickness. Despite her pregnancy, her weight had plummeted. She looked thin, pale and wan, but insisted on carrying out her duties, which she was allowed to do for only an hour or so.

Diana complained that the baby was induced to fit in with Charles's polo diary

For a long time, it had been traditional for royal children to be born at home. Diana, for once, wanted to follow royal tradition, but the Queen's gynaecologist, Dr. George Pinker, insisted on the private Lindo Wing at St. Mary's Hospital, Paddington, a world famous maternity unit equipped with all the latest technology. Both Princess Anne's children had been born there.

The baby was thought to be due on 1 July, Diana's 21st birthday, but at 4.30am on 21 June 1981, her labour pains began. Charles was on hand to help Diana into the back of a police Rover, and held her hand as they made the 10 minute drive to the hospital.

Diana was so unprepared almost all she had with her was a green maternity dress. When arrived, Diana was escorted to a private room reserved for her on the fourth floor. "The Prince and Princess were joking. She changed right away into a full length white nightie and had a light breakfast of toast and marmalade, orange juice and coffee. When her labour pains worsened, the Princess bit her lips to keep from crying out and her temperature soared to such a point that her doctors considered an emergency Caesarean" recalled a hospital nurse.

Diana insisted on being discharged quickly and left the hospital just over 22 hours after giving birth

After 16 hours of labour, William was born at 9.03pm, weighing 7lb 1.5oz, with a fascinated Prince of Wales at Diana's bedside. In fact, Dr. Pinker could have speeded up the labour with drugs, but Diana was insistent that nature be allowed to take its course and had been instructed in natural childbirth. When born, William was given a baby tag marked 'Baby Wales'.

Describing the event, Earl Spencer, Diana's father, said: "It has been the most harrowing. It was a particularly slow birth. A very worrying day." A 41 gun salute, for a boy, was fired in Hyde Park and the Tower of London.   

The day after William's birth, Charles wrote to his friends Hugh and Emilie van Cutsem: 'I can't tell you how excited and proud I am. He really does look surprisingly appetising and has sausage fingers just like mine.' In a different note, Diana wrote to her friend: 'William has brought us such happiness and contentment and consequently I can't wait for masses more.'

Prince William was christened, as royal tradition demands, in the Music Room at Buckingham Palace on 4 August 1982. The ceremony was preformed by Dr. Robert Runcie, the Archbishop of Canterbury. It was also the Queen Mother's 82nd birthday, which why Charles and Diana chose the date. After the ceremony, the Royal Family adjourned to the White Drawing Room for formal pictures. The baby prince was wearing Queen Victoria's exquisite Honiton silk and lace christening robe, a special and fragile treasure worn by five generations of royalty.

After one year, press reported that a happy and blooming Diana had visited the Queen's gynaecologist, Dr. Pinker, twice within a few weeks. In September 1983, Buckingham Palace announced that the Princess was pregnant for a second time, but sadly, within a week, Diana suffered a miscarriage when on holiday at Balmoral, Scotland. 

The beginning of 1984, however, brought the best possible compensation. Diana discovered she was expecting for a third time. The official announcement was made on 14 February 1984, and the gossip started tittle-tattling about whether Diana would have another boy or girl.

Though all day sickness again afflicted Diana for a time, this pregnancy was easier for her than the first one. On 15 September 1984, at 7.30am, Diana went into labour. Charles, once more in attendance, took his wife from Windsor Castle to the Lindo Wing of St. Mary's Hospital along the M4 motorway. A police escort accompanied them.

Henry was born at 4.20pm, weighing 6lb 14oz. Diana never forgot her husband's dismay, as she recalled: 'Charles always wanted a girl. Harry was a boy. His first comment was Oh God, it's a boy. His second and he's even got red hair.' And with less excitement, he described the baby by saying that he was 'a thoroughly splendid chap.'

To Diana, Harry was a 'good baby'. She said: "An extraordinary good baby. He sleeps marvellously, eats very well and doesn't wake us up too much in the middle of the night."

The royal parents coined nicknames for their boys Wills and Harry

Once again, and as royal tradition demands, Prince Henry was christened at Buckingham Palace, on 21st December 1984. And like his brother and other royal children, the baby prince wore Queen Victoria's exquisite Honiton silk and lace christening robe.

After the ceremony, Prince William, who was easily bored by formal occasions, attempted to hijack the event by pulling faces, buzzing the camera as the family pictures were taken and generally making a play for all the attention. Thanks to him, the christening pictures were less set-piece than was traditional, with broad grins all around.

The Princess loved motherhood perhaps more than anything. She was always telling friends how much she wanted more children, particularly a daughter. 'She often used to comment on how beautiful Fergie's two daughters were,' a friend remembers.

Reference: Diana: An Extraordinary Life, a tribute magazine in 26 issues, published in 1997 & the Australian Women's Weekly, published in 25 August 1982.