"It means a great deal to them that so many people will be celebrating," says a palace aide

By Simon Perry
Updated April 09, 2015 11:00 AM
Credit: Chris Jackson/Getty

Who’s in line to be a godparent to Prince William and Princess Kate’s second child? Subscribe now for instant access to the likely contenders for baby No. 2, only in PEOPLE.

Prince William and Princess Kate have just weeks – or maybe even days – before their new baby arrives to headlines around the world.

The expectant parents are “hugely grateful for the warm wishes they have received from people throughout the U.K. and indeed around the world over the last few months,” a palace aide said Thursday at a press briefing at Buckingham Palace.

“They know that people are excited that Prince George will soon have a little brother or sister,” said the aide, “and it means a great deal to them that so many will be celebrating this important moment for their family.”

The Buckingham Palace briefing detailed the plans and protocol surrounding the baby’s upcoming arrival. Kate has said her due date is “mid-April to the end of April.”

The medical team will be led by obstetrician Guy Thorpe-Beeston at the private Lindo Wing of St. Mary’s Hospital in London, where Kate delivered Prince George in July 2013.

But there are “contingency plans” should Kate, 33, find herself outside of London, such as at her parents’ home in Bucklebury or in Norfolk at the couple’s country estate, Anmer Hall.

Like millions of other dads-to-be, William, 32, is on standby. He will never be more than a two-hour drive from central London, royal sources say, and will have a car ready to race to the hospital should the call come.

Unlike last time, there will not be throngs of photographers and reporters in pens for days leading up to the birth, as restrictions will be put in place to ensure that hospital life is not disrupted. And palace officials will only confirm when Kate has gone into labor and entered the hospital.

Then, after she has given birth and she and William have managed to contact and inform their family, the announcement will be made. This will include the gender of the baby – despite widespread speculation, the couple have chosen not to find out in advance – time of birth and weight.

This will come from their office at Kensington Palace in an email to media and then released on its social media feeds.

The couple will decide on the day whether or not to bring Prince George to see his new sibling at the hospital.

In another departure from George’s birth, there will not be a grand parade of the announcement leaving the Lindo Wing, and then taken by car to Buckingham Palace in the full glare of the media. The announcement will indeed be posted on the easel close to the palace gates, but there may be some time lag between an electronic announcement and a pictorial one.

The little prince or princess will spend his or her first days at the couple’s London home, Apartment 1a at Kensington Palace.

From there the family will head to the 10-bedroom Anmer Hall, about 150 miles north of London in Norfolk. That’s a change from George’s first weeks in July 2013, when they nested at the estate of Kate’s parents, Carole and Michael Middleton, in Bucklebury, about 50 miles west of London.

Kate will take more time off from official duties than she did last time and she is not planning on adding any extra help.

The prince will take two weeks of paternity leave from his job at Bond Air Services, which directly employs him in his role as a pilot for the East Anglia Air Ambulance service.

“With two very young children, the focus will be on the family this summer,” a royal source says.