As anticipated, Buckingham Palace released an update on plans for the birth of Baby Sussex this morning, confirming Harry and Meghan have taken the "personal decision" to keep the arrival of their first child as private as possible. "The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are very grateful for the goodwill they have received from people throughout the United Kingdom and around the world as they prepare to welcome their baby. Their Royal Highnesses have taken a personal decision to keep the plans around the arrival of their baby 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."
When will see our first glimpse of Baby Sussex? We won't see the traditional photos on the steps of the hospital, however reporters were told the couple are planning a small photocall at Windsor about two days after baby arrives. I understand a media pool will be present and images will be shared with photo agencies and news outlets around the world. It's a good compromise; Harry and Meghan will be able to enjoy their first days as parents in private, but the photocall will ensure the public are a part of the celebrations. The images will be used time and time again throughout the child's life and remembered as his//her official introduction.
'Royal fans will get to see the happy couple with their new baby, however, soon after the birth. Within a few days after welcoming their first child, Meghan and Harry will take part in a small photo op — with one reporter, one photographer and one TV camera — with their new baby on the grounds of Windsor Castle, the palace announced.'
Is it possible Harry and Meghan will elect to share a personal snap before the official photocall? Below, a salient point from Rebecca English.
I think the couple grappled with striking the balance between their desire for privacy and their wish to acknowledge the enormous public interest. It's a difficult situation because they are full-time members of the royal family; they will be central players during Charles' reign and eventually William's. When the Prince of Wales ascends to the throne, it's very much going to be a case of Charles, Camilla, William, Kate, Harry and Meghan in key senior roles, representing the BRF at home and abroad and undertaking the monumental task of modernising the monarchy and sustaining the growth of the institution in the 21st century whilst ensuring they stay true to time honoured traditions. Yet, it is highly unlikely, the Sussex children will have any future roles as working royals. Charles' plans for a streamlined monarchy are well documented. I believe they have been discussed at length within the family. Someday in the future, we'll have the Cambridges, Sussexes, Prince George, Princess Charlotte, Prince Louis and their spouses as working royals. Although Baby Sussex will be seventh-in-line when he/she is born, that position will change with the passage of time and it makes perfect sense for Harry and Meghan to establish the fact their children's lives will be private from the moment they are born.
There's no plans for Baby Sussex to be a Prince or Princess, or hold HRH status, and I don't expect that will change. More from Town & Country:
'According to King George V’s 1917 decree, only the oldest son of the Prince of Wales’s oldest son (so Prince George) was entitled to be styled His Royal Highness and a Prince.
But in December of 2012, the Queen issued new Letters Patent, which declared that all of William and Kate's children would hold the title of HRH and would be styled as princes and princesses.
“The Queen has been pleased by Letters Patent under the Great Seal of the Realm dated 31 December 2012 to declare that all the children of the eldest son of The Prince of Wales should have and enjoy the style, title and attribute of Royal Highness with the titular dignity of Prince or Princess prefixed to their Christian names or with such other titles of honour,” reads the official statement.
At this point, that ruling does not apply to Prince Harry's children, and so if it's a boy, he will be styled as Earl of Dumbarton, and if it's a girl, she will be styled as a Lady similar to how Lady Louise's title is currently styled.
That said, the Queen could step in and issue Harry's child a title. But we'll just have to wait and see.'
Royal Central spoke to historian Marlene Koenig:
'As Royal Historian, Marlene Koenig pointed out “In 1999, when Prince Edward married, it was announced on the morning that his children would be styled as children of an earl.”
Adding on “No announcement about children came on Harry’s wedding, which leads me to think that there will be a Letters Patent before the first child to make sure the children are royal.”
According to Koenig, “there is a loophole. The Letters Patent does not refer to what would happen if great grandchildren become grandchildren in the male line.” For that reason is why Koenig is sure The Queen will issue them before the birth. Should the children be born after Charles is king, those children will be styled as grandchildren of the monarch.
If Her Majesty does not issue Letters Patent before the birth of the Harry and Meghan’s first child “the eldest son will be the Earl of Dumbarton. Daughters will be Lady Christian name and younger sons as Lord Christian name,” further explains Koenig.'
Interestingly, there's been several stories in recent days suggesting Meghan hopes to have a home birth. It's important to stress there's been no official word on this. Rebecca English reports:
'Meghan is expected to have a midwife-led home birth at Frogmore Cottage in Windsor, the new home she shares with Prince Harry on the Berkshire estate. She wants to follow in the footsteps of the Queen, who was born at the Mayfair home of her grandparents and gave birth to all four of her children at either Buckingham Palace or Clarence House.
Sources stressed earlier this week that Harry and Meghan, who are expecting their first child within weeks, have not ruled out a hospital delivery because a woman having a baby over the age of 35 is at an increased risk of premature birth or the need for an epidural or caesarean.
But a friend in America said the duchess – who still practices yoga daily and has 'sailed' through her pregnancy – is in extremely good health and sees no reason why she could not enjoy a safe delivery in the privacy of the cottage. 'It is her favoured choice,' the source said, 'but it obviously depends on how things are nearer the time.'
My first thought when I heard the news was how fitting it is for the official photos of Baby Sussex to be taken at Windsor. Harry and Meghan have many happy memories of spending time there during the early days of their relationship. They chose Windsor for their official engagement photoshoot and of course were married at St George's chapel. They are now settling into their home, Frogmore Cottage, on the estate. I imagine the christening will be held at St George's in June or July.
This is expected to be the latest official update before Meghan goes into labour. It could be any day now...