Rumors that Meghan Markle and Prince Harry were expecting started swirling long before they even announced their engagement. In July 2018, Meghan seemingly shut those rumors down when she was seen sipping champagne during a royal visit to Ireland. Still, people can't help but get excited for the newlyweds. But when the time did come, there are a lot of royal protocols Meghan had to adhere to — including the fact that she wasn't supposed to have a baby shower!
People Were Excited For A Baby Since Day One
Not long after the Duke and Duchess of Sussex exchanged vows in May 2018, the public already began speculating that Meghan Markle was pregnant. Even though those were just rumors, people are undeniably excited for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to have a kid.
In November 2017, the couple sat down for a BBC interview in which they were asked about their thoughts on having children. Prince Harry seemed to lead with the answer, replying, "Not currently, no... One step at a time." As Meghan looked at him and nodded in agreement, he continued, "Hopefully we'll start a family in the near future." They sure didn't waste much time, as they announced they were expecting in October 2018.
No Big Gender Reveal
These days it's trendy to have a convoluted way to reveal your baby's gender to your friends and family, but this is one modern tradition that royals won't ever take part in. Announcing a royal pregnancy is big enough as it is, but the public is entirely kept in the dark regarding the new royal's gender.
In fact, some sources allege that the expecting parents don't find out until the birth either! The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge reportedly didn't know Prince Louis was a boy until he was born, but this is was apparently their preference.
No Baby Showers Either... Maybe
When Meghan Markle became pregnant, planning a baby shower was completely unnecessary. The royals never have baby showers, because baby showers aren't much of a thing in the U.K. anyway.
Royal expert Victoria Arbiter explained to Express that royals are already "very wealthy," so to throw "a lavish baby shower would be seen as highly inappropriate... There's nothing they can't go out and buy themselves." But as we saw, Meghan "broke" this rule when Serena Williams threw her a lavish bash in NYC in early 2018.
She Can't Go Anywhere
Royal rules dictate that Meghan Markle couldn't return to the States to visit her mother or celebrate her bundle of joy with friends once she became pregnant. Instead, they should probably come to her. This isn't to say that she'd be restricted from traveling completely, in fact, most pregnant royals keep up engagements through most of their pregnancy.
However, it is reported that pregnant royals are discouraged from traveling too much as a safety measure. Expecting royal mothers are encouraged to stay close to home in the event that emergency services are needed during the pregnancy.
No Unique Baby Names? We'll See About That...
While modern-day celebrities often pick nouns or descriptors as names (Apple, Blue Ivy, etc.), royals can't be quite as creative. They typically stick to a shortlist of recycled classic names depending on how far down the line of succession the baby is.
This is why we have Prince George and Princess Charlotte, as opposed to names as unique as Peaches and Pixie Geldof. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex's children are not likely to ascend the throne (Prince Harry is sixth in line behind his father, Prince William, and his nephews and niece), so they ended up going with a name not tied to tradition: Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor.
The Queen Finds Out First
When Meghan Markle finally became pregnant for her first royal baby with Prince Harry, the first person they were obligated to call is the Queen. You'd think that the newborn's grandparents would be first, but in most cases, the Queen finds out before anyone else whenever one of her progeny has been born.
Upon Prince George's birth in 2013, for example, Prince William called his grandmother right away to personally deliver the good news. It was such a serious matter that he had to call her through an encrypted phone to avoid having the news leak before Buckingham Palace made the official announcement.
Debuting Hours After Birth
There's no pausing from the moment of going into labor to taking the baby home. While most mothers are resting their bodies in the hours after delivery, royal mothers are prepping themselves for a public appearance.
Royal mothers debut their newborns outside the hospital doors mere hours after giving birth, which has been protocol ever since royals began delivering in hospitals. For example, people were tipped off that Kate Middleton had finally delivered Prince George in 2013 when her hairdresser was spotted entering the Lindo Wing. This is something Meghan Markle said she would not participate in, and she didn't. Rather, she and Harry showed off their newborn two days after his birth, in a small event at St George's Hall at Windsor Castle, Windsor.
Meghan And Harry, Expecting!
The baby bump mania was huge! On October 15, 2018, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex made an announcement that thrilled royal watchers around the world! Five months after their wedding, Harry and Meghan told everyone that they're expecting a little one to arrive sometime in the spring.
The exciting announcement was made as the couple arrived in Australia for their first official royal tour together. Their baby will be the Queen's eighth great-grandchild. Harry and Meghan told her of the news during Princess Eugenie’s wedding the prior week. At the time of the announcement, Meghan, was 12 weeks along (meaning the baby was conceived in July) and her doctors said that she’s in "good health." We were thrilled for the couple!
We Didn't Expect An Announcement So Soon
For all the speculation surrounding Meghan Markle and Prince Harry at the moment, it was said that we should probably not expect a pregnancy announcement until they’ve been married for at least a year. Express reported in August 2018 that Meghan Markle will be putting her health first ahead of getting pregnant.
In October of that year, she was slated to embark on her first official royal tour to Australia, Fiji, the Kingdom of Tonga, and New Zealand. As a result, she’d want to avoid the side affects of traveling if she were to find herself pregnant since she is more likely to experience health risks such as miscarriage within the first 12 weeks. However, Harry and Meghan announced as they touched down in Australia that they are expecting their first child! Meghan, 37, is in "good health."
Meghan And Harry Don't Have Custody of Their Child
As we've learned, Meghan and Harry have their share of unconventional hurdles to leap on their way to becoming parents — but this one is beyond strange to us. The royal couple technically don't have custody of their child. But why?
This all boils down to a strange custody arrangement with Queen Elizabeth II. According to royal expert Marlene Koenig, "The sovereign has legal custody of the minor grandchildren." This practice actually dates back to King George I who didn't have a strong relationship with his son. The King established the rule to ensure he would be the guardian of his future grandchild. Now, it's been 300 years and things still haven't changed! And yes, this means that the Queen technically has custody over Prince William and Kate Middleton's children.
The Real Reason The Child Is Not A Prince
When a royal baby is born, they often get outfitted with royal titles. For example, Prince George and Princess Charlotte are already referred to as His Royal Highness and Her Royal Highness, respectively. Most members of the royal family become an HRH, but unfortunately for the Duke and Duchess, their son is too far down in the line of succession (he or she will be seventh in line, pushing newly wed Princess Eugenie to eighth) to be granted these titles.
This is thanks to a limit on royal titles that Harry's great great grandfather, King George V, put into place in 1917. There is a possibility however that the Queen herself could step in and bestow the future bundle of joy with a title. But did you ever notice how none of these people really have last names? It’s true. If a royal needs to have a surname, they usually are given the name of their house. When Prince George started school, for example, he was enrolled as George Cambridge, since his parents are the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
At Least She Can Give Birth In An Actual Hospital
It was thought that the first child born to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex will be born at the Lindo Wing of St. Mary's Hospital in Paddington just outside of western London.
Traditionally, royals had at-home births, but this changed when Princess Diana had Prince William. He was the first royal born in a hospital and since him, other royals have followed suit. Meghan and Harry were said to have decided to have their baby at their home, Frogmore House, but in the end he was delivered at the Portland Hospital in London.
Prince Harry Got To Witness It
When Meghan Markle gave birth, she had Prince Harry by her side to offer whatever support she needs. But if this birth were happening 30 years earlier, they would not have been as likely to be together during such trying times.
Traditionally, whenever a new royal was about to be born, there were to be no men allowed in the delivery room — not even the father! This tradition was not followed, of course, when Princess Diana gave birth to Prince William. Prince Charles was there when William entered the world. Many people don't know that Prince Philip attended the birth of Prince Edward in 1964.
Midwives Are Mandatory
Midwives might be an antiquated necessity when it comes to birthing these days, but the royals need to have them around — even after tradition has been changed to allow royals to give birth in hospitals.
Despite having access to royal doctors, obstetricians, and gynecologists, there was most likely a midwife present when Meghan Markle had her first child with Prince Harry. Kate Middleton reportedly had three midwives on hand at the birth of Princess Charlotte. In fact, the midwives were only a fraction of the team of 20 that were selected to prepare for the birth!
She Will Need To Be Camera Ready When Baby Arrives
Even though she didn't reveal the baby right after birth, Meghan Markle still picked the perfect outfit. She chose an elegant white dress with gold buttons, a look that's on par with all her other royal engagement outfits.
The delayed debut was a departure from how Prince William and Kate Middleton debuted their children just hours after birth. Here, we see the Duke and Duchess following the 2018 birth of Prince Louis.
Everyone Gets Royal Baby Mania
Being a pregnant celebrity is stressful enough, but for royals it is perhaps tenfold. It's not just that fans of royals are following your every move during gestation, but a high-profile pregnancy of this caliber is usually international news.
Even though the public is largely kept in the dark surrounding a royal pregnancy, eager fans get a little too excited awaiting the birth of a new royal. During Prince George's birth, people literally camped outside St. Mary's Hospital to wait for his debut! This is one of the reasons royals must primp themselves to leave the hospital so soon after delivery.
This Tradition Stands The Test Of Time
Of all the royal pregnancy traditions that have been broken by modern-day princesses, there is one that still stands: the royal birth announcement. After The Queen and close family are notified of the birth, the public gets notified.
Traditionally, this was done by posting a handwritten note on an easel in the forecourt of Buckingham Palace. This is still done today, although the notice is not only typed and printed out, but it is also followed by an official email and social media announcement in conformance with the technological times we live in. Harry and Meghan's announcement was not signed by the attending doctor, another departure from tradition.
Royal Births Are Celebrated With Explosions
Usually a baby's birth is celebrated with some balloons, but the birth of a royal baby goes off with a literal bang. A 62 gun salute goes off when a royal baby is born, so the Duke and Duchess of Sussex better get their earplugs ready when the time comes.
Apparently the Royal Palace commemorates many of their special occasions with Royal gun salutes. A 21-gun salute is standard among most armed forces, but in the U.K, up to 41 extra rounds are added depending on where the salute takes place. When a Royal is born, 62 rounds are fired in about ten minutes.
At Least She'll Have Maternity Leave
We wonder what qualifies "being a royal" as a real job aside from having to attend royal engagements? Regardless, royal moms still get maternity leave after giving birth, just like commoners do. Upon Prince Louis' birth, Kate Middleton opted for six months of maternity leave, in which time she'll be able to focus completely on motherhood.
So while Meghan Markle's pregnancy was definitely not a "normal" one on account of all the royal protocols, at she has some downtime to be a mom without having to worry about making appearances.
Breastfeeding Is Encouraged
In British royalty's days of yore, they heavily relied on wet nurses as a part of the child-rearing process. This meant that newborn babies were fed by lactating women who weren't their birth mothers in order to be fed.
This tradition was broken with The Queen. "Royal breastfeeding mothers are a relatively new phenomenon. The present Queen, Elizabeth II, was breastfed following her birth in 1926 and chose to continue the practice with her own children," wroteThe Guardian in 2013. These days anyhow, most mothers opt for breastfeeding if they are healthy enough and able to do so.
She Started Scouting For Nannies Early
Even though she got maternity leave, Meghan Markle hired a nanny to help her raise her son. She may have asked Kate Middleton for a referral.
Middleton hired Maria Borrallo just after Prince George's birth and she has remained a part of the family ever since. Borrallo graduated from the prestigious Norland College, which is considered the Harvard among English nannies. Borrallo has been trained in all the essential aspects of royal child-rearing, which ranges from self-defense to learning how to drive to evade the paparazzi.
Her Baby Has A Dress Code
One of the joys of having a baby is getting to dress them up in cute outfits that you like (before they develop the agency to dress themselves.) When Meghan Markle shops for her son, she'll be able to do the same — but she'll have to adhere to a pretty distinct dress code when baby-clothes shopping.
According to royal experts, it's standard for royal children to be "formally dressed" in public. This is why you'll notice that Prince George and Princess Charlotte are always dressed like perfect dolls, instead of like the average modern toddler.
The Christening Outfit Was Picked Out Well In Advance
All royal babies are christened within a year of being born and one detail that royals don't have to worry about is what the baby will wear. In 1841, Queen Victoria commissioned an intricate lace and satin christening gown for her eldest daughter's christening. Since then, it has been used 62 times by all babies born into the royal family, including Prince Charles, Prince William, and Prince Harry.
In 2004, The Queen had the gown preserved and commissioned a replica made by the senior dresser to the Queen, Angela Kelly. The replica has been worn by Prince William's kids and will be worn by Prince Harry's kids.
The New Baby Has Multiple Names
Royals may be deterred from picking unique names for their babies, and even though they have a list of recycled names, picking which ones to use is hard enough in itself. This is because they have to pick not one, but up to four names for the newborn.
While the first name is obviously the most important, royals still have three extra attached to it. Prince Harry's full name, for example, is Henry Charles Albert David. Usually the extra names are tributes to elders or ancestors, if the first isn't already. Harry and Meghan opted to depart from tradition and named their son Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor.
Royal Babies Are Trendsetters At Birth
When Prince George debuted in 2013, he was wrapped up in a white Merino wool blanket nearly identical to the one his father had when he was a baby. Word quickly spread that Prince George's £45 shawl was made by GH Hurt & Son Ltd. and soon, the company was inundated with orders.
This was probably the first instance in what was then referred to as the "Prince George Effect," as people sought out the same retail items used or worn by the newborn royal. It might be safe to assume that Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor will have the same effect.
She Was Pretty Busy Until Delivery
Meghan Markle was expected to keep working while pregnant. Most expecting mothers in the royal family keep themselves busy up until the day that the baby is ready to come out.
Kate Middleton, for example, kept up her royal engagements up until the end of her pregnancy, only taking a break when she finally went on maternity leave after the birth of her children. In Middleton’s case, however, she was excused from many obligations early on due to her intense bouts of morning sickness she suffered early on in her pregnancies.
It Takes A Village
Midwives may be a mandatory presence at the birth of a royal baby, but that doesn’t mean the royal family is totally against modern medicine. In addition to the trusty team of midwives, there are at least a dozen other qualified medical professionals present to help with the birth.
For Kate Middleton’s first two births, for example, the team of royal doctors included the three midwives, plus two obstetricians, three anesthesiologists, four theatre staff, two special care baby unit staff, for pediatricians, one lab tech in charge of blood samples, and four senior managers.
The Doctors Prepare Months In Advance
The royal family isn’t the only one who has to start preparing for the arrival of a new baby. The medical professionals brought on to help deliver the baby also have to start preparing months in advance. This was especially the case for Kate Middleton, who was carrying future king Prince George in her belly at one point!
The team had to mean once a month for several months and as the due date got closer, they began meeting once a week. At these meetings, they’d essentially review the birth plan for the delivery day, in addition to going over procedures for unexpected events and emergencies.
They Are Also Paid To Keep Quiet
It’s a pretty big deal to be selected to the medical team that delivers a royal baby, but that in itself comes with a lot of consequences. One of the major things the doctors have to keep in mind is how confidential the matter is.
Professor Tiong Ghee Teoh is a consultant obstetrician and gynecologist at St. Mary’s Hospital, where Kate Middleton has delivered all of her children. He was on the medical team during both Prince George’s and Princess Charlotte’s births. He told Telegraph that “everyone was sworn to secrecy about who [the mother] was.”
The Doctors Are On Call For Months
There are a lot of unexpected things to expect during a pregnancy, which is why the team of royal doctors was expected to be on call for a majority of Kate Middleton’s pregnancy. Dr. Johanna Bray was a consultant anesthesiologist on the team. Though she was behind the scenes for much of the procedures, she too had to be on call.
“We were on call for three months… You never know when you need to be called, you need to be in town, and available. If you are at a party you need to have your car keys at the ready. No drinking!” Bray told Telegraph
They Can Carry On With New Traditions
While there’s no official rulebook on royal pregnancy do’s and don’ts, there is royal protocol to be followed. But sometimes, new protocols are made in order to keep up with modern times. One example of this is sharing an official baby photo of the newborn royal.
At least Meghan Markle was able to share pictures of her new baby. The tradition started with Kate Middleton and Prince William, of course, who’ve had their children during the Instagram age. Since the births of each of their children, Kensington Palace has shared a photo of the newborns on social media.
Who Gets To Be A Godparent?
Most parents select godparents for their children, especially if they put their babies through a christening. Since all royal babies have a christening, they too get godparents. While most parents pick someone close, like a brother or sister, royals are expected to choose someone more obscure.
For Prince George, for example, cousins, college pals, and royal staff were selected as godparents, as opposed to Prince Harry or Pippa Middleton. Because Harry and Pippa are directly an uncle and aunt, respectively, “they will have a role in George’s life anyway,” royal correspondent Robert Jobson told USA Today.
There's A Town Crier Who Announces The Births
This definitely seems like it harkens back to the medieval times, but surprisingly, there are still town criers in London. Not only that, this guy who has the pleasure of shouting out breaking news for the whole public to hear, has the pleasure of also announcing the royal births.
81-year-old Tony Appleton announced the birth of Prince Louis in 2018, and he also did the same for Prince George and Princess Charlotte. “God save The Queen!” Appleton proclaimed upon announcing Prince Louis’s birth. He even had a giant bell to ring to make the affair complete.
At Least Meghan Can Use Regular Diapers
Well, her baby can at least. Traditionally, royal babies have been known to use cloth diapers. But as any mother or person who’s changed a diaper knows, that that can get pretty messy. Thankfully, times are apparently changing within the palace
The upgrade to your average disposable diaper happened with Princess Diana, who once said “I’d be pretty sure the baby will have disposable diapers rather than the cloth ones. I think it will be ordinary nappies, the ones that most people's babies use… I think the royal family will, like any family, adapt with the times.”
How Many Will Megan Have?
There’s also the question of how many babies Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will choose to have. There’s no official rule on the number of children that the royal family is expected to adhere to, but in general, people who’ve been following the royal family have determined that royals usually stop after two.
The tradition started after The Queen, who had four children herself. Since then, those who came after her only had two children, informally known as “an heir and a spare.” But this has obviously been broken since Prince William and Kate Middleton had Prince Louis, which effectively also broke up the pre-existing line of succession.
Royal Babies Are Showered With Gifts
Yes, we did say that expecting royal mothers don’t have baby showers, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t presents involved! After the birth, the baby is actually sent plenty of gifts from all over the world. Dignitaries and leaders from other countries pay respects to the new royal by sending lavish gifts
When Prince George was born, for example, he received a ton of gifts from different countries. Barack Obama sent a rocking horse, which he actually got to see Prince George use when he visited Kensington Palace in 2016. Another gift Prince George received was a Merino Wool shawl from New Zealand.
Even The Princes Get Paternity Leave
Paternity is just as important as maternity leave and thankfully, the Princes get some special time to bond with their newborns as well. This is something Prince Harry likely looked forward to when he and Meghan Markle were expecting their first child.
Prince William went on paternity leave upon the births of Prince George and Princess Charlotte, but it appears he didn’t take any time off when Prince Louis arrived. William usually takes two weeks off, but in 2018, paternity leave was not possible. His father was busy with overseas engagements while Prince Harry had his wedding to worry about.
The Timeline For Royal Pregnancies
Don’t believe any of the rumors you hear about royal pregnancies until you get an official announcement from the royal palace. It’s the protocol that royal pregnancies cannot be made public unless the expecting mother is at least 12 weeks along
This is probably to ensure that the pregnancy will continue as planned for as long as the public knows. After all, most people don’t start telling people until they make it through their first trimester, just in case something terrible happens. Kate Middleton broke this protocol, however, when she had to miss a royal engagement due to her morning sickness.
There Used To Be No One Allowed At All
These days, it might seem unusual to some that there are so many people allowed in the delivery room at the birth of a royal baby. Back in the day, public officials were the only outsiders allowed in the delivery room
In 1894, Queen Victoria declared that a Home Secretary must be present to verify the royal birth. This is to ensure that the expecting mother actually has a baby and that the baby is not switched out for another. This tradition was stopped in 1948 when The Queen had Prince Charles.
Did Meghan Markle Have A Natural Birth?
Some women wondered if Meghan Markle opted for a completely natural birth, rather than one aided by medicine. Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth II each went under for their births. They underwent what was called a “twilight sleep,” which involved being put under general anesthetics while a doctor pulled the baby out with forceps.
Princess Diana broke this tradition, too, opting to have Prince William naturally and in an upright position. Sheila Kitzinger was there for that birth and recalled to Marie Claire, “I said that Charles looked strong enough to hold her and… it was the first active royal birth.” Tabloid rumors following Meghan's delivery claimed that she had a water birth at home.
They Kept Us Guessing
When Meghan Markle announced her pregnancy, you can bet that there were wagers all over the United Kingdom as to what the baby’s name would be. As mentioned earlier, since Prince Harry’s children are not likely to inherit the throne, he and Markle had a bit more freedom when it comes to picking a name.
If they were to have had a girl, experts guessed that Diana or Doria would be probable names. There was a strong likelihood that Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s daughter would have been named after either one of her grandmothers. However, the male baby was named Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor.
If They Had A Daughter, Would She Be Named After Prince Harry?
Well before the big day arrived, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle had already thrown names around. We thought they might do something completely out of the ordinary and name their daughter after her father by calling her Henrietta!
But they had a boy, and there were plenty of plausible options for him, too. While some experts guessed Alvin, after Meghan’s maternal grandfather, others suggested traditional royal names like Arthur or James, who’ve been kings in ancient history. The winning name was announced on May 8: Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor!