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Why the Queen's childbirth process with Charles, Anne and Andrew is controversial today

The monarch was anesthetised during labour

the queen
Sophie Hamilton
Parenting Editor
3 November 2021
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Viewers of The Crown will have watched with surprise at the Queen's births of her first three children, Prince Charles, Princess Anne and Prince Andrew.

MORE: Royal mums' dramatic birth stories revealed: The Queen, the Countess of Wessex & Zara Tindall

The monarch was reportedly put into a state called 'twilight sleep' during labour, where she was given an anaesthetic and the baby born using forceps. The controversial technique is no longer used today. Indeed, when Her Majesty welcomed her fourth child, Prince Edward, she chose another method of delivery.

WATCH: 10 facts about royal births

'Twilight sleep' was first used in 1903 by the German doctor, Karl J. Gauss, who gave labouring women a combination of morphine and scopolamine.

the queen smile

The Queen is believed to have been in 'twilight sleep' during her first three births

According to, the cocktail of drugs caused women to be in a state of wakefulness and sleep, which is how the term 'twilight sleep' came about. "After being drugged, the women would be so in and out of consciousness that the doctor would then take the baby out with forceps."

It's said that the process caused unpleasant side effects for both mother and baby, along with memory loss of the labour for the mum. It's surprising to think the Queen may have gone through a labour such as this, and we're all thankful that the practice is no longer used today.

MORE: Duchess Kate's birth stories of her three children George, Charlotte and Louis revealed

READ: Why the Queen was forced to stop breastfeeding Prince Charles in 1949 - full story

baby prince charles

Prince Charles as a baby

When Prince Charles was born via Caesarean section on the evening of 14 November 1948, in the Buhl 'guest' Room at Buckingham Palace, the room was converted into a 'miniature hospital', writes Town and Country magazine.

Aged just 22, the Queen endured a labour of 30 hours and her husband Prince Philip was not present.

The Daily Mail revealed: "When the King's private secretary Tommy Lascelles brought the good news, Philip bounded upstairs into the Buhl Room, which had been converted into an operating theatre. He then held his firstborn, still wearing his sporting flannels and open-neck shirt."

baby princess anne

Baby Princess Anne with her mother, grandmother and great grandmother

Princess Anne Elizabeth Alice Louise was born on 15 August 1950 at 11.50am at Clarence House due to the palace being renovated following the war.

While Prince Andrew arrived on 19 February 1960 at 3.30pm, weighing 7lb 3oz. Like his brother Charles, Andrew was born at Buckingham Palace, but this time the Queen had her baby in the Belgian suite.

Prince Edward Antony Richard Louis arrived in the world on 10 March 1964 at 8.20pm, weighing just 5lbs 7oz. It was the first birth that Prince Philip had attended with his wife.

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