With the arrival of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s baby imminent (it could actually happen any day now), royal watchers the world over are speculating about every little detail.
While there’s a lot we don’t know, such as the sex of the baby — royal protocol prevents the parents-to-be from making that public before the birth — we do have the lowdown on certain elements of the birth, the newborn’s first few days, weeks and months, and the Duke and Duchess’s future plans as a family of three.
An April Baby
Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are very pleased to announce that The Duchess of Sussex is expecting a baby in the Spring of 2019. pic.twitter.com/Ut9C0RagLk
— Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) October 15, 2018
Kensington Palace first officially confirmed Markle’s pregnancy with a Twitter post on October 15, just before the couple embarked on their royal tour of Australia, Fiji, Tonga and New Zealand. In the post, the Palace revealed that the baby was due “in the Spring of 2019.”
Since Spring 2019 officially began in the Northern Hemisphere on March 20 and ends on June 21, that’s a pretty big window. However, Markle reportedly told a member of the public during her January visit to Birkenhead with Prince Harry that she was due around April. Time will tell whether the baby will be born on Easter Sunday (April 21), which is also the Queen’s birthday.
A Different Hospital
Prince William and Prince Harry were both born in the Lindo Wing of St. Mary’s Hospital, Paddington, and Prince William and Kate Middleton chose the same location for the births of Prince George (2013), Princess Charlotte (2015) and Prince Louis (2018). But it’s been reported that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex might choose another hospital for their firstborn — Frimley Park Hospital in Surrey, and there are rumors they are considering a home birth as well.
Frimley Park is certainly closer to their new home, Frogmore Cottage in Windsor, and it’s also where Prince Edward’s wife, the Countess of Wessex, delivered her children, Lady Louise Windsor and James Viscount Severn.
The Most Natural Birth Possible
According to a source, Markle is keen to have a natural birth and rely on the hypnobirthing technique, which involves deep breathing to help ease labor pains.
“Meg wants a natural birth if she can have one,” the source told Vanity Fair. “Her mother is very into anything that is holistic and natural, and having been brought up with yoga and mindfulness, it’s all very much part of Meghan’s birth plan.”
Apparently, Markle has been having sessions with acupuncturist Ross Barr during her third trimester to help her relax, aid circulation and increase blood flow to the uterus.
A Female Doctor
The Mail on Sunday has reported that Markle won’t be requiring the services of the Royal Household gynecologists, Alan Farthing and Guy Thorpe-Beeston, and has chosen her own female doctor to guide her through the labor and delivery. Farthing and Thorpe-Beeston attended at the birth of all three of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s children, as well as the births of Prince William and Prince Harry themselves.
In keeping with protocol, the Queen’s doctors cannot be excluded completely and will be nearby in case something goes wrong.
The Queen Will Be The First To Know
It’s expected that Prince Harry will stick to one particular royal tradition in what will be his first duty after Markle gives birth. There are many perks of being Queen, and one is finding out the sex of the newborn baby before anyone else in the world, including all other royals and even Markle’s mother, Doria Ragland.
The Duke of Sussex will directly inform Queen Elizabeth II of the sex of his newborn child straight after the birth using an encrypted phone that can’t be tapped, revealed royal historian Kate Williams in a recent documentary aired on U.K. television.
Very Modern Baby Announcement
Just like Prince William and Kate Middleton, Prince Harry and Markle are likely to announce the birth of their baby in a very modern way — via their new, record-breaking official Instagram account @sussexroyal (it amassed more than one million followers in five hours and 45 minutes). However, the birth announcement will still be displayed on a framed typewritten bulletin placed on an easel at the front of Buckingham Palace, as is the tradition.
Wrapped In A G.H. Hurt & Son Baby Blanket
For their first public appearance (typically on the steps of the hospital where they made their entrance), royal infants are traditionally wrapped in a blanket made by Nottingham-based knitwear company G.H. Hurt & Son. Prince Charles, born in 1948, was the first royal to be swathed in a G.H. Hurt & Son blanket and, 60 years later, his newborn grandson Prince Louis was wrapped in the company’s Nottingham Lace Knitted Baby Shawl. The shawls are $79 and up.
Royal Naming Tradition
While there are no set rules when it comes to royal baby names, name choices are often influenced by other royals from history. Currently, the favorite for a girl is Elizabeth with odds of 6/1 and the top boy name is Albert with odds of 10/1. Other contenders include Victoria, Diana (after Prince Harry’s late mother), Alice, Charles and James.
One thing that is certain is that the baby’s surname will be Sussex, and therefore different than his or her parents’. Prince Harry uses Wales as his surname, and Meghan’s last name is still officially Markle. It’s common for the royal family not to release the newborn child’s name for several days. After Prince William was born in 1982, it was seven days before his name was announced. Following the births of Prince George and Princess Charlotte, the public waited two days before finding out their respective names, and there was an even longer wait (four days) after their little brother Prince Louis arrived.
The Media Might Not Get A Post-Birth Photo
It’s common for royal parents to pose for photographs with their newborn on the steps of the maternity hospital — a practice that keeps the crowds of photographer happy, at least. However, it’s been rumored that Markle doesn’t want the pressure of dressing up and posing only hours after giving birth just because that’s what’s expected of her.
Royal photographer Arthur Edwards has asked if the Sussexes will provide a photo opportunity after the birth, but he told Town & Country that he’s “got no answers.” He added, “I photographed Harry coming out of [the] hospital in his mother’s arms, and I hope to photograph Harry’s baby when coming out in Harry’s arms. But Harry might do it differently. He may have his own plans. We’ll know soon enough.”
Prince Harry Will Register The Birth
Royal parents don’t have to do a lot of things other parents have to do, but one task that’s required of every new mother or father is the completion of the birth registration form. When Prince William completed the form for Prince Louis on May 1, 2018, he gave his occupation as “Prince of the United Kingdom.” (Accordingly, Kate Middleton was “Princess of the United Kingdom.”) Those aren’t job titles the registrar sees very often, that’s for sure.
A Nanny Will Help Out
Nannies have always played an important role in the royal family, giving parents time to get on with their regal duties. Possibly the most well-known royal nanny is Tiggy Legge-Bourke, who was Prince William and Prince Harry’s nanny and a huge support to them after their mother Princess Diana’s death in 1997.
It’s believed that Prince Harry introduced Markle to his former nanny a few months after their November 2017 engagement. It’s up to Prince Harry and Markle how involved their nanny will be in their child’s upbringing. Royal historian Carolyn Harris told the Express that today, “royal parents are more involved in the day to day care of their children than they were in past centuries.”
Grandma Doria Will Be Hands-On
In the past, grandparents who weren’t royal, like Meghan’s mother Doria Ragland, weren’t allowed to have a close relationship with the royal child. However, this has changed in modern times and Markle appears to be taking all possible steps to ensure Ragland has a strong bond with her new grandchild. She’s even turned a small outbuilding on the grounds of her new Windsor home, Frogmore Cottage, into a one-bedroom home.
A source told the Sunday Mirror that “Doria should be here for the birth and will be staying.”
There Will Be Many, Many Godparents
It’s common for royal children to have several godparents and, although these names won’t be confirmed for some time, some people are more likely than others to make the cut.
According to the Express, Prince Harry’s former nanny, Tiggy Legge-Bourke, is in the running, as is Markle’s best friend Jessica Mulroney, while other potentials are Markle’s former “Suits” co-star Abigail Spencer and her close friend Serena Williams, who co-hosted Markle’s NYC baby shower. Prince Harry’s friend Nicholas van Cutsem, who is already godfather to Prince Louis, is another possible candidate.
Not An Automatic Prince Or Princess
Baby Sussex will be seventh in line for the throne when they arrive, but they won’t automatically be a prince or princess, thanks to a ruling made by King George V in 1917, which dictates that only the oldest son of the Prince of Wales’s oldest son (i.e., Prince William’s son, Prince George) is entitled to be called His Royal Highness (HRH) and a Prince.
However, some rules can be broken and, in December 2012, the Queen declared that all future Cambridge children would hold the title of HRH and be princes and princesses. As it stands, that ruling does not apply to Prince Harry’s and Markle’s children, meaning their titles could be “Earl” or “Lady.”
Baby’s First Home
After months of speculation, Prince Harry and Markle finally completed the move into their new home Frogmore Cottage, which is on the grounds of Windsor Castle where they got married in May 2018. This is where the new royal baby will be taken when they leave the hospital.
The Queen gave permission for the couple’s household office to be based at Buckingham Palace, which means they will return there regularly for work matters as well as for family get-togethers with the Cambridges, who still live in the grounds of Kensington Palace.
Baby Gifts Galore
Just like all expectant parents, Prince Harry and Markle have already received lots of gifts for their baby. So many, in fact, that they have encouraged their Instagram followers to stop sending gifts and to donate to one of their chosen charities instead. The items they’ve already received include rain boots, soft toys, clothes, blankets and even a child’s lifeguard outfit.
When the Duke and Duchess toured Australia in 2018, they were given what is believed to be their first baby gift: a tiny pair of boots and a cuddly kangaroo.
Daddy Will Be At Home
Royal aides have reportedly been informed that Prince Harry will take the full two-week paternity leave entitlement to support Markle and spend time with his newborn. He hasn’t had a paid job since he resigned his Army commission in 2015, but he carries out voluntary royal duties, which are co-funded by the Queen and the Prince of Wales.
In the U.K., parents may take advantage of Shared Parental Leave, which lets mothers transfer some of their parental leave to their partners for a maximum of two weeks after they give birth or adopt a child.
Will The Umbilical Cord Be Left Intact?
According to an anonymous source in the Express, Prince Harry has been asked if he wants to cut the baby’s umbilical cord, which many fathers and birthing partners do, but he might decline the offer. The couple has reportedly been looking into “lotus birthing,” which entails leaving the cord attached outside the womb and allowing it to dry up and fall off naturally. Advocates of this practice believe this keeps the baby spiritually connected to the mom outside the womb, although critics suggest it can lead to the growth of potentially harmful bacteria. While it’s possible the royal couple are interested in this practice, it seems unlikely they’ll actually pursue it.
Ec0-Friendly, Gender-Neutral Nursery
The Duke and Duchess are committed to raising awareness of environmental issues, and Vanity Fair reported that setting up their baby’s nursery has been an eco-friendly project, for which they’ve decorated with non-toxic paint infused with eucalyptus oil. The room also has a gender-neutral color scheme of white and gray, with lots of high-tech baby gadgets that can be controlled from Prince Harry and Markle’s own smartphones. That sounds like the nursery of many modern babies!
Doula On Board
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are doing everything they can to ensure the birth goes smoothly and, according to Us Weekly, that includes hiring a doula for the run-up to the birth and during the labor and delivery.
“Meghan is focused on calm and positive energy around the birth—she’s a big believer in that,” said the source, while Prince Harry is focused “doing everything he can to make sure Meghan’s comfortable and happy.”
A study published in January 2016 found that mothers under doula care have a reduced risk of both preterm births and caesarean sections.
Royal Tour Companion
When the Queen was a young mother, she famously left Princess Anne and Prince Charles at home when she embarked on a six-month Commonwealth tour. But things are very different nowadays. Diana took Prince Harry overseas just a year after his birth, and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge took 9-month-old Prince George with them to Australia. It’s likely that forward-thinking parents Prince Harry and Markle will do the same.
Royal Christening Gown
No official statement has been made about whether Prince Harry and Markle’s baby will be christened, but the likelihood is high — the child’s great-grandmother, the Queen, is the head of the Church of England. The family christening gown is a replica of the detailed cream lace and satin gown made for Queen Victoria’s eldest daughter in 1841. If the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge follow tradition, their child will be christened in this gown, just like cousins Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis.
A Diverse Education
Prince George attends the $23,000-a-year Thomas’s Battersea, an exclusive prep school with a varied curriculum. However, it may not be the first choice for Prince Harry and Markle’s child. A source told E! that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex “are thought to want a more diverse education for their child” and that “Meghan is also keen for her child to be fully aware of his or her American heritage.”
One school that has been mentioned in press reports is ACS Egham International School, which is near the Sussexes’ Windsor home and offers an American curriculum.
Fluid Parenting Style
We’re accustomed to seeing royal baby girls in frilly dresses and boys in blue shirts and shorts, but Baby Sussex may have a more gender-neutral wardrobe. According to reports, the expectant royal couple doesn’t intend to impose traditional gender roles on their child.
“Meghan has been talking to some of her friends about the birth and how she and Harry plan to raise their baby. Her exact word was fluid,” a source told Vanity Fair. “She said they plan to raise their child with a fluid approach to gender and they won’t be imposing any stereotypes.”