The news is out that Kate Middleton -excuse me, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge- has been admitted to St. Mary's Hospital in London in the early stages of labor. We won't know for quite some time whether the new heir to the British throne is a boy or girl, but we can look back into the history of other royal births. Mental_floss has four stories of how it was done in the past, such as the custom of public witnesses to ensure that the royal baby indeed was born from a royal mother.
For hundreds of years, royal women gave birth in front of spectators. It was a big custom among the French royalty—poor Marie Antoinette was almost killed by the great crush of people who poured into her bedchamber at Versailles when the doctor shouted that the baby was coming. Contemporary reports claim that it was stiflingly hot, that it was impossible to move for spectators, and that some people were climbing atop the furniture for a better view. No wonder she fainted. (And no wonder the custom was abandoned soon after. Well, sort of: The royal mother still gave birth before a crowd of people—ministers, advisors, trustworthy types—just a smaller one.)
Update: It's a boy!