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Everything We Know So Far About Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s Royal Baby

14 minute read
Updated: | Originally published: ;

The palace has just announced that the Duchess of Sussex and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex will keep their royal baby plans private – to a point.

When Meghan Markle and Prince Harry announced Markle’s pregnancy in the fall, they weren’t just making news; they were making history. Just as the Duchess of Sussex herself has been an unprecedented addition to the British royal family, so too will her future child become emblematic of change as a bona fide royal with American ancestry and a mixed-race heritage — a Windsor first.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex shared their good news about Markle’s baby through the Kensington Palace Twitter account just before embarking on their royal tour to Australia, Fiji, Tonga and New Zealand in October. Their royal relatives, including Queen Elizabeth herself, reacted with delight to news of the expected new member of the royal family after learning of the pregnancy at Princess Eugenie’s wedding, while Markle’s mom Doria Ragland also expressed her happiness.

Since the news broke, Markle and Prince Harry haven’t been shy about what Harry called their “upcoming baby” and “our little bump,” thanks to their many engagements. Pregnancy clearly hasn’t slowed Markle down so far, either. But in April they announced their “personal decision” to keep the birth and birth plan private, sharing the news with the public only after the baby is born. Here’s everything we know so far about Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s baby, including Meghan Markle’s baby’s due date, its place in the British monarchy’s line of succession, potential name choices and other Meghan Markle baby news.

When is Meghan Markle’s baby due?

Meghan Markle’s baby number one is expected be born sometime in Spring 2019, according to the royal notice. While visiting the town of Birkenhead in January and chatting with royal well-wishers during a walkabout, Markle further narrowed it down, saying she was six months along in her pregnancy; that puts the due date most likely in late April.

Like with its royal cousins Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis — children of Kate Middleton and Prince William — the palace is playing its cards close to the chest concerning a more specific due date. But by March, royal watchers will be on red alert. Spring has been a popular time for royal baby births of this generation: Prince Louis’s birthday is April 23 and Princess Charlotte’s is May 2. (Prince George is a summer child, born July 22.)

In a Christmas Day appearance at the royal Sandringham estate in Norfolk, Markle further hinted at her baby’s due date while chatting with well-wishers. “We’re nearly there!” she said at one point. Earlier in December, she had further alluded to her health while at a visit to a nursing home, telling one resident she was feeling “very pregnant” that day.

What will Meghan’s baby’s name be?

Like with most royal baby news, information about the name of the future offspring of Prince Harry will be closely guarded by the family, and we’re unlikely to know before the palace is ready to share the name. But that hasn’t stopped the betting, with gambling companies already setting odds on Meghan Markle’s baby’s name just as they did with Prince Louis, Princess Charlotte and Prince George before. (Betting on royal baby names is something of a British royal tradition, with oddsmakers having a field day with predictions.) So far, online betting pool Ladbroke’s shows Victoria as the favored name, followed by Albert, Diana and Philip in a dead heat of 10/1 odds. (Other popular options include Alice and Arthur, followed by Alfred, Elizabeth, James, Mary, Alexander, Alexandra, Charles, Edward and Frances.) Each of the names comes steeped in royal history.

Where will Meghan Markle give birth?

For the births of Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis, the Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton followed the same tradition: giving birth at the Lindo Wing of St Mary’s Hospital in London. (That’s also where Prince Harry and his brother were born.) After recovering from the birth, Middleton would appear regularly outside the hospital with her husband Prince William and her children for a photo. While Meghan Markle has not confirmed where she plans to give birth, she could follow in tradition’s footsteps and also spend her labor at the Lindo Wing. However, if she chooses to forego that option, there are other hospitals closer to her new home in Windsor, like the Frimley Park Hospital in Surrey, that could also serve as the birth place.

(FILE) The Duke & Duchess Of Cambridge Depart The Lindo Wing With Their New Son
In this photo composite a comparison has been made between Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge carrying her newborn son and Diana, Princess of Wales carrying her newborn son Prince Harry (R) both leaving the Lindo Wing of St Mary's hospital. ***LEFT IMAGE*** Editorial # 950804602 LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - APRIL 23: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge carries her newborn son as she leaves the Lindo Wing of St Mary's hospital on April 23, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Anwar Hussein/WireImage) RIGHT IMAGE*** Editorial # 909562840 LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - SEPTEMBER 17: Diana, Princess of Wales leaves the Lindo Wing, St Mary's Hospital with baby Prince Harry on September 17, 1984 in London, England. (Photo by Anwar Hussein/Getty Images)Anwar Hussein&WireImage

What is Meghan Markle’s birth plan?

The couple have chosen to keep that information private. In an April message, they shared a statement indicating that they would not be participating in the same media traditions as Kate Middleton. “Their Royal Highnesses have taken a personal decision to keep the plans around the arrival of their baby private,” the statement noted. “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.” Royals experts presume they will take some time before sharing photos with the public as well.

Will Meghan Markle and Prince Harry take maternity and paternity leave?

Markle will most likely take some time to focus on her new child and recover; it is her first baby, after all. As for Prince Harry, he may adhere to the nationwide standard of two weeks of paid paternity leave for all fathers in the U.K. Royal fathers have historically taken paternity leave as well, including Prince William, who spent two to three weeks after the births of his first two children to focus on parenting. (After Prince Louis was born in 2018, he was back to royal duties after just three days.)

Are Meghan Markle and Prince Harry ready to become parents?

While we don’t have insight into their private thoughts, Markle is clearly confident about her husband’s parenting abilities. “He’s going to be the best dad,” she told guests at a winter charity event. And they have some practice already, as they take care of a puppy together currently.

What happens after Meghan Markle gives birth?

Markle is opting for a more private affair than her sister-in-law after the birth and will skip the public photo op outside the hospital. Following the birth, traditionally there’s an elaborate official notice by the gates of Buckingham Palace announcing the birth. The public will also discover the baby’s name; with Kate Middleton’s children, their names were shared on the royal social media accounts within a few days of the births. A few months later, the baby will also most likely be christened — baptized into the Church of England — in a ceremony overseen by top clergy and attended by close family. At that time, the child’s godparents may also be announced.

What is the gender of Meghan Markle’s baby?

So far, Markle and her prince have stayed officially mum on whether they’ll be welcoming a boy or girl to their family. In January, Markle told fans that she and Harry are looking forward to being surprised by the gender at the time of birth, suggesting that even they do not know who will be joining their family.

In March, Markle suggested they still don’t know the gender while delivering comments at an International Women’s Day panel. She did, however, express hopes that the baby would follow in her feminist footsteps, regardless of gender. “I had seen this documentary on Netflix about feminism, and one of the things they said during pregnancy was ‘I feel the embryonic kicking of feminism.’ I loved that, so boy or girl, whatever it is, we hope that that’s the case with our little bump,” the Duchess of Sussex said.

Speculation on the royal baby’s gender has run rampant, urged along by help from Harry himself: while on tour in Australia, one well-wishing fan shouted at Harry “I hope it’s a girl!” — and the Duke responded with, “So do I!” Oddsmakers have the chances of boy or girl set at an even split so far, with plenty of time for more developments on the gender front as time elapses.

How will Meghan Markle’s baby change the line of succession?

The royal family tree will get a new branch after Markle gives birth to her first baby in the spring. Currently, Prince Charles is in line for the crown following his mother, Queen Elizabeth II. After Charles, his son Prince William, Duke of Cambridge is next up for the task. And then Will’s children with Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge follow: Prince George first, then Princess Charlotte (after the law was adjusted to allow women equal status in royal succession) and finally Prince Louis, who was born just last spring.

Royal family succession
Getty Images (7)

Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex then takes his place as sixth in line to the throne. When his baby with Meghan Markle is born in the spring, that child will become the seventh in line, bumping down Prince Andrew, the brother of Prince Charles. Andrew’s daughters Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie, who was recently married at Windsor Castle, round out the top ten with the ninth and tenth spots in the line of succession, respectively.

Princess Eugenie Of York Marries Mr. Jack Brooksbank
Princess Charlotte of Cambridge and Prince George of Cambridge attend the wedding of Princess Eugenie of York and Jack Brooksbank at St George's Chapel on October 12, 2018 in Windsor, England.Pool/Max Mumby—Getty Images

Will Meghan Markle’s baby be a prince or princess?

The future child of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry will be of royal blood by birth — but he or she may not start off life with an official royal title as a prince or princess. In fact, the new royal may never end up with a “prince” or “princess” title at all, as ABC News royal contributor Imogen Lloyd Webber explained to TIME.

Complete Royal Family Tree 2018
The Royal Family tree is undergoing some changes

It all goes back to a 1917 royal decree made by King George V which limited the expansion of the monarchy by minimizing the family members eligible for those fancy prince and princess titles. When it comes to great-grandchildren of the monarch, only the oldest living son of the oldest living son of the oldest living son of the monarch was to be afforded the “titular dignity of Prince or Princess prefixed to their Christian names.” (So today, that refers to Prince George, who’s the son of William, grandson of Charles and great-grandson of Elizabeth. Got that?) Everyone else was to be just a Lord or Lady.

But there was a snag in the plan. Queen Elizabeth changed all that when she decreed that all of Prince William and Kate Middleton’s children would be styled as Prince or Princess after all — which is why Charlotte and Louis, Will and Kate’s second and third children, have their titles.

Yet for future great-grandchildren — that means the children of Prince Harry, Princess Beatrice, Princess Eugenie and all the rest of the Queen’s grandkids — all bets are off. Lloyd Webber suggests it’s unlikely the Queen will make further changes, even for Harry’s offspring. “There aren’t really grounds for it,” she told TIME. Instead, because of remaining laws and traditions around titles, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s future baby will probably end up as an Earl of Dumbarton or a Lady Mountbatten-Windsor, depending on its gender. And if it’s a boy, he may one day inherit the Duke title — but if it’s a girl, she’ll remain a Lady, not a Duchess, unless the House of Lords makes some big changes to longstanding laws.

Will Meghan Markle’s baby have American citizenship?

We don’t know yet how the royal family will decide to go about the citizenship plan for the new royal baby. As royal expert Kelly Lynch told TIME, “No one in royal history has had an American mother, it will be fairly interesting to see what happens.” Upon the baby’s birth, “the child will be fully British.” U.S. law allows that any child born to an American parent in wedlock who has lived in the States for at least five years (two of those years over the age of 14) can be granted U.S. citizenship, even if the child is born outside of the U.S. Under that rule, Markle could grant her future baby American citizenship without a problem.

However, there’s a hitch: it’s not clear if Markle herself intends to retain her own American citizenship, or if she’ll be renouncing it in due time. If she proceeds as a dual U.S.-U.K. citizen, she would be vulnerable to an IRS audit, which could then make the royal family’s finances public — and that’s not something the British royal family has ever wanted done. At the same time, she’s not yet a full British citizen; that requires over a year of “indefinite leave to remain” status and a British citizenship test, with Markle having only relocated to the U.K. during her engagement to Prince Harry.

But presuming Markle does end up saying goodbye to her American citizenship, since the baby will be born on British soil as a British citizen, it’s unlikely it will be able to claim American citizenship as well. We’ll just have to wait and see how they choose to handle this delicate — and unprecedented — new point of protocol in royal history.

What does Kate Middleton think about Meghan Markle’s baby?

In an impromptu warm message recorded by a royal fan as she was greeting a crowd, Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton reflected kindly on her excitement for Markle to add to the family. “Yeah, absolutely. It’s such a special time to have little kiddies, and a cousin for George and Charlotte as well, and Louis, it will be really special,” she shared about the upcoming new part of the growing royal brood.

How was Meghan Markle’s baby shower?

For her baby shower, Markle came to Manhattan for a private event in late February at a suite of Manhattan’s Mark Hotel on the Upper East Side. Guests included news host Gayle King, tennis star Serena Williams and international lawyer Amal Clooney. While most details of the party remain under wraps, we do know that the lucky attendees engaged in floral arranging activities — and that the flowers were then donated to local charities for patients in need of care, similar to Markle’s choice to donate her wedding flowers following that big day.

How do I congratulate Meghan Markle and Prince Harry on their baby?

There has already been an outpouring of public support for the parents-to-be, with a growing grassroots movement to support charities in the baby’s honor. On their new Instagram, Markle and Prince Harry further directed supporters to donate to specific organizations that work with families in need, including the Lunchbox Fund, Little Village HQ, WellChild and Baby2Baby “in lieu of sending gifts.”

As royals expert Victoria Arbiter noted to TIME, the couple will ultimately send back or donate any gifts that are sent unsolicited and from unknown senders, as they cannot accept items from the public for security reasons. They can, however, accept congratulatory notes, which the public is free to send. And — although it may take some time for their team to process all the mail — well-wishers will most likely receive a thank-you note in response.

Their official mailing address for notes:

THR Duke & Duchess of Sussex
Clarence House
London SW1A 1BA
United Kingdom

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Write to Raisa Bruner at raisa.bruner@time.com