There is an unlimited, worldwide appetite for news about Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan’s royal baby, expected any day now. But there are more questions than answers about the circumstances under which the “American royal baby” will come into the world.
And that’s a deliberate choice made by Harry and the American-born Duchess of Sussex, who aren’t going to become parents in the same way that his brother and sister-in-law, Prince William and Duchess Kate of Cambridge, have done it three times in the last six years.
The interest in this baby (gender as yet unknown) is warranted even if he or she will never sit on the throne: He or she will be the first child born to the most unconventional royal bride ever: American and biracial, a divorced, older-than-Harry former actress who isn’t shy about doing things her way.
This baby will be Queen Elizabeth II’s eighth great-grandchild. The child will be the first American citizen (at least initially) and part African-American royal baby in British history.
Here’s what we know:
What they are not going to do:
They’re not going to tell a panting world audience immediately when the baby is born because they want to keep the arrival “private.”
“The Duke and Duchess look forward to sharing the exciting news with everyone once they have had an opportunity to celebrate privately as a new family,” they said in a statement issued by their office at Buckingham Palace.
It may be people in London won’t know until they see the landmark London Eye observation wheel on the banks of the River Thames light up in red, white and blue to mark the baby’s birth, as officials announced last week.
Harry and Meghan’s desire for more privacy and their pique at media intrusions is by now well established. Given the spigot of leaks emanating from royal palaces into the newsrooms of British tabloids about every aspect of their lives and alleged personalities, it’s not clear why the couple think the momentous news of the birth won’t leak before they’re ready to announce it.
It may be days before they appear with the baby under strictly limited circumstances to pose for a couple of photographers. The location of this photo-op has not been officially named, but it will not happen in London.
It’s unlikely the baby will be born at St. Mary’s Hospital in London
The exact birthplace has not been announced (and probably won’t be in advance) and the options reported by the British media are numerous and conflicting. But it will not likely be the goldfish bowl of St. Mary’s Lindo Wing, where Will and Kate’s three children were born, as well as Will and Harry themselves in the 1980s and, in 1977 and 1981, the two children of Princess Anne, daughter of Queen Elizabeth II.
Good riddance to the media
There will be no media mobs waiting for days or even weeks outside the hospital, in contrast to the births of Prince George of Cambridge, 5, Princess Charlotte, 3, and Prince Louis, who turns 1 year old next week.
Meghan, 37, will not be emerging with her baby just hours after birth, hair blown out and looking red-carpet ready, posing for a few minutes before cheering onlookers and shouting photographers.
If such a circus was warranted for the Cambridge kids, who are third, fourth and fifth in line to the throne respectively, the thinking goes, then it’s unnecessary for Baby Sussex. He or she will be seventh in line, after Harry, 34, and could drop down again if Will and Kate have a fourth child.
They will not return to Kensington Palace
Each time after Duchess Kate gave birth, she and Will and the new baby would return to Kensington Palace where they live, first in two-bedroom Nottingham Cottage and now in a 20-room sprawling apartment.
Harry and Meghan lived at Nottingham Cottage, too, but now they’ve moved away to Frogmore Cottage, their newly renovated — and more remote — home on the Windsor Castle estate nearly 25 miles west of central London.
Here’s what we don’t know:
Where will the baby be born?
The big question here is whether Meghan, who will turn 38 in August, will opt to give birth to her first baby at home at Frogmore Cottage at Windsor. The suggestion comes from tabloid reporting, notably the Daily Mail, which reported that American “friends” of Meghan claimed she was considering a home birth because it’s more private.
She’s had an untroubled pregnancy and is in good shape thanks to daily yoga and healthy eating, so there’s no reason not to expect a safe delivery in the comfort of her newly renovated manor house near where one of her wedding receptions was held, The Mail reported.
“Their decision (to keep the birth private) all but confirms that they are planning to have the birth at Frogmore Cottage,” added The Times of London, reasoning that a hospital birth would heighten the risk of it leaking out — thus putting the kibosh on their privacy plans.
Whatever the medical merits and risks of home births, this choice would only be a break with recent tradition of royal births: Prior to the 1970s, all royal births going back centuries took place at home (well, a palace).
The queen delivered her four children at Buckingham Palace and Clarence House starting in 1948 and ending in 1964. The queen herself was born at her maternal grandparents’ home in London’s posh Mayfair neighborhood in 1926.
Will the birth take place at a birthing center?
According to tabloids such as The Sun, The Express and the Daily Mail, plus the more respectable Telegraph, an alternative option for giving birth includes the Mulberry Birth Centre at Frimley Park in Surrey, about 15 miles from Windsor.
The Mulberry is a National Health Service facility but it is not unfamiliar with royal babies: The queen’s daughter-in-law, Countess Sophie of Wessex, who is married to Prince Edward, gave birth to daughter Lady Louise Windsor there in 2003. She credits it for saving her life when she had to have an emergency C-section.
Will the queen’s doctors be in attendance?
The Daily Mail says Meghan has “shunned” the queen’s team of gynecologists, the highly regarded Alan Farthing and Guy Thorpe-Beeston, who delivered all three of the Cambridge children.
But they won’t be far away: If something goes wrong, as it did with Countess Sophie, the queen’s doctors would step in and take over, the Daily Mail said.
Will Meghan have a doula to help with the birth?
In February, The Sun claimed Meghan had hired a doula — a birthing coach — to be with her for the birth, and even named her as Lauren Mishcon, whose husband is the grandson of Princess Diana’s divorce lawyer. Mishcon later denied the report in an interview with The Jewish Chronicle.
But the Sun report set off a flurry of rumors about Meghan’s alleged unconventional birthing choices.
Unlike a midwife, who can deliver babies, a doula is an extra birth attendant who coaches women in labor with techniques to manage pain, and also provides support after the birth during the baby’s early days, according to website The Bump.
So is it true a doula will be there to welcome the queen’s latest great-grandchild? As with all the other questions outstanding about the royal baby, Harry and Meghan think it’s none of your business.