It’s customary for royal fathers to take up to two weeks off from work after their new baby is born, according to Katie Nicholl, a royal expert and correspondent for Vanity Fair. But the amount of time they spend at home varies.
How much time will Prince Harry take for paternity leave now that the Duchess of Sussex gave birth? Here’s everything we know — and what the experts predict.
What’s the norm in the U.K.?
The United Kingdom has a nationwide standard paternity leave that provides one or two weeks of paid time off for new fathers. This differs based on employer and terms of employment, and fathers must meet a minimum weekly salary requirement to be eligible for paid paternity leave.
Royal fathers are no different, Nicholl says.
What do royal fathers typically do?
Like most men in the U.K., it’s customary for royal fathers to take the traditional two weeks off from work after a royal baby is born. “It is quite normal for royal fathers to take paternity leave,” Nicholl tells TIME. “Certainly with the modern royals, it is just very much something they do.”
Prince William took paternity leave of varying degrees after each of his three children were born. Following the births of his first two children, Prince George of Cambridge and Princess Charlotte of Cambridge, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge took two to three weeks away from his duties to spend time with Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and their children, though he returned to work only a couple days after the birth of his third child, Prince Louis.
The custom has been around throughout many royal generations before now, Nicholl says. Prince Charles and his siblings, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward, took some time for paternity leave, too. “It’s not just this generation. It’s the generation before,” Nicholl explains.
Will Prince Harry take paternity leave?
There are a lot of factors to take into account when considering Prince Harry’s potential for paternity leave, but Nicholl says it’s likely he’ll take a good amount of time off. “We don’t know how long he’s going to take, whether it will just be the standard two weeks or possibly longer. But certainly he will be taking paternity leave.”
Prince Harry may take an even more extended leave of absence from his duties because he and Meghan Markle are starting their new home. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are splitting up from their previously shared office with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Starting their new home without Prince William and Kate Middleton requires a great deal of work, Nicholl says, and it may benefit the couple to have some time to focus only on preparing their new household in Windsor.
“The baby is being born at a time of great flux,” Nicholl says. This could be one reason for the Prince to get back to work soon, as he’ll likely want to oversee the hiring of their new team. Preparing for their new court will also ensure that “they’ve got the support and the infrastructure in place so they can do what every other working parent does, which is juggle home and work life,” Nicholl says.
But Prince Harry may not want to take much time away from his duties after all. “He’s very committed to his charities and his patronages. He’s a very busy working royal,” Nicholl says. “What he won’t want to do is let his organizations and charities down.”
Meghan Markle will likely not want to take too much time away from her work, either. The queen recently made her Vice President of the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust and she’s been busy with other engagements and charities since she joined the royal family. “From everything we’ve seen of Meghan, this is a woman with a remarkable work ethic,” Nicholl says.
Like “normal parents,” Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will want as much time at home with their new baby as possible, Nicholl says. Prince William and Kate Middleton make every effort to be regular parents to their children — Prince William even includes dropping the children at school in his diary, or schedule of engagements, according to Nicholl, and Harry and Meghan will definitely want the same thing.
If his schedule allows it, nothing should prevent Prince Harry from choosing to take a longer break from his responsibilities, Nicholl says. “I think he’s going to absolutely love being a dad and make sure he’s going to be around for all of it.”
Regardless of how much time he takes off, his son is going to be his first priority. “I think we’re going to see him having a very hands-on role with this baby. He’s waited a long time to become a father,” Nicholl says.
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