Ever since starting their relationship, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have brought an air of modernity to the royal family.
They started by keeping their relationship firmly under wraps for the first year or so, then Meghan was invited to spend Christmas with the royals at Sandringham before they were married, and the former actress has continued to speak out in support of women’s rights even in an official royal capacity.
So it was no surprise that when Meghan fell pregnant with the couple’s first child, they chose to do things their way from the outset, setting the precedent that they would guard these plans and details closely to ensure their absolute privacy.
The married couple of one year welcomed their first child on Bank Holiday Monday (6 May). Unlike previous royal births, barriers weren’t erected outside a private hospital in preparation for the world’s media to congregate. There was no official confirmation of where Meghan would be giving birth, nor when we would find out.
Instead, Buckingham Palace issued a statement in the afternoon of the 6 May saying the Duchess had gone into labour in the early hours of the morning. Just under an hour later we had confirmation the couple had welcomed a 7lbs 30z baby boy into the world – no word on who delivered the baby or where it happened. All that was confirmed was that Meghan had her husband by her side during the birth and that, subsequently, the couple, baby and Meghan’s mother Doria Ragland were all resting at Frogmore Cottage.
Prince Harry popped outside, beaming from ear to ear, to let the world’s press know that Mum and baby were doing well and that a name and a glimpse of the baby would be revealed in the coming days.
Royal commentator Andrew Morton, author of Meghan – A Hollywood Princess, told Cosmopolitan UK this is a reflection of Harry using his voice, not the media’s to communicate news.
“It has been apparent from the get-go that Prince Harry wants to control the narrative of his life, especially his marriage to Meghan Markle,” he says. “He has gone over the heads of the mass media to speak directly to the public – his public.”
Meghan’s post-birth appearance
The first official picture of the newborn was taken in Windsor Castle by just a handful of carefully selected photographers, videographers and one writer – and then distributed to the press. The pictures are, unsurprisingly, adorable and Meghan and Harry look chuffed to bits.
The small pool reflects the couple’s earlier decision to keep this special time in their lives as private and personal as they can.
“Their decision to avoid the media circus on the steps of St Mary’s Paddington hospital, as with recent royal births, is also their way of showing that they are aiming for a different kind of life for their baby boy,” says Morton.
Though we were all keen to see the baby, after putting up with labour, an experience which is in the vast majority of cases an arduous, painful, emotional and highly sensitive event, women can and should be able to do whatever they want. It’s quite refreshing that even in her new profile, Meghan decided to go home, put her feet up, and spend quality time with her new baby.
Previous royal post-birth appearances
The Duchess of Cambridge
Shortly after the births of all three of her children – George, Charlotte and Louis – Kate and William appeared on the steps of the Lindo Wing hospital in central London with the baby to greet the waiting photographers.
Traditionally, the railings had been put up to anticipate the baby’s birth. So, when Kate was announced as being in labour, swarms of photographers and journalists would head down to the media pen to wait until the Cambridges arrived with their new baby.
When their first baby, George, was born in 2013, Kate wore a light blue polka dot Jenny Packham dress, in 2015 when Charlotte was born, Kate was in a white and yellow floral dress by the same designer, with Jimmy Choo stilettos. For Louis’ birth last year, she wore a red dress with a white peter pan collar which many thought was similar to the dress Princess Diana wore in 1984 when Harry was born.
When Diana and Prince Charles welcomed William in 1982, it was a similar situation to Kate though arguably even more of a public occasion. The couple left St Mary’s hospital with Charles carrying the swaddled newborn one day after the birth. Charles had also become the first royal father ever to attend the birth of an air, reports said at the time.
Two years later, Diana – wearing a red maternity dress – and Charles emerged from the Lindo Wing with a newborn Prince Harry to large crowds and photographers shouting, again one day after the birth. Photos from the time show huge crowds waving Union Jacks with cameras poised at the ready while a heavy police presence guarded the hospital entrance.
A report from the Evening News described how outside the hospital “cheers, applause and popping champagne corks greeted the announcement” of Harry’s birth as “scores of well-wishers had gathered behind police barricades throughout the day”.
His big brother William was also photographed being taken by a nanny to visit his baby sibling just like George and Charlotte were captured visiting Prince Louis last year.
Though the Duke and Duchess of York’s children are not direct heirs to the throne like their cousins, there was a similar set up when Sarah Ferguson gave birth to both Princess Eugenie and Beatrice though Sarah left hospital later than both Diana and Kate.
Sarah and Andrew emerged from the Portland Hospital with Beatrice four days after the birth on 12 August 1988. Beatrice was born on 8 August, where according to the BBC
“an impromptu street party was held outside the hospital held by crowds waiting for news” as soon as the news was posted on the gates of Buckingham Palace, as is tradition.
For the birth of Eugenie, two years later, Sarah and Andrew emerged from the Portland hospital seven days after the baby girl was born to show off their new arrival to waiting photographers.
Congratulations to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
This post originally appeared on Harper’s Bazaar UK.