Almost everything about the birth of Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan’s royal baby boy on Monday was a departure from recent royal-birth traditions – from the palace pre-birth planning to the location of the birth to the “over the moon” exultation of the Duke of Sussex, who was so happy he even answered questions from the media.
Baby Sussex himself is unlike any previous royal baby: For one thing, he’s half-American, as the child of the former Meghan Markle, 37, the divorced, biracial ex-actress born and raised in Los Angeles.
Seventh in line to the throne, he’s also the first royal baby from the Sussex line born in hundreds of years and the first baby born into the royal family ever to be acknowledged to have part-African descent.
Here are some other ways the birth of Baby Sussex differed from the recent past:
He wasn’t born in London:
Baby Sussex wasn’t born in St. Mary’s Hospital in London, where his father was born.
St Mary’s Lindo Wing is also where his uncle Prince William was born, and Will’s children with Duchess Kate of Cambridge, cousins Prince George, 5, Princess Charlotte, 4, and Prince Louis, 1, were born there, too.
Footmen Stephen Kelly and Sarah Thompson bring out the easel in the forecourt of Buckingham Palace to formally announce the birth of a baby boy to Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan of Sussex, May 6, 2019. (Photo: Yui Mok/AP)
The Buckingham Palace pre-birth media planning went awry:
In recent years, palace media planning for royal births, specifically the Cambridge children, was meticulous and followed to the letter. That didn’t happen this time.
Weeks before the birth, the palace said it would alert the media when Meghan was in labor. But the first announcement that labor had begun in the “early hours” of Monday came at around 2 p.m. local time in Britain.
About an hour later came the announcement that the baby, a boy weighing 7lbs 3oz, had been safely delivered at 5.26 a.m. local time – meaning the baby had already been born when the palace said she had gone into labor.
Explanation? Not yet from the palace. However, some of the confusion and delay may have resulted from the fact that the birth was overdue by at least a few days.
Media people broadcast from the Long Walk at Windsor Castle after the announcement of the birth of a baby boy to Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan of Sussex, May 6, 2019. (Photo: WILL OLIVER/ EPA-EFE)
Harry and Meghan’s plan to keep the birth “private” changed dramatically:
Weeks before the birth, Harry and Meghan announced that they intended to keep the birth “private” at least initially, and would pose for photos with the baby a few days after the birth on the Windsor Castle grounds.
So it was a dramatic surprise when Harry appeared at Windsor Castle before TV cameras and reporters, with a horse stable in the background, to excitedly announce the birth and even answer questions.
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This afternoon, His Royal Highness The Duke of Sussex shared the news of the arrival of his and the Duchess’ first born child. Their son was born early morning on the 6th of May, 2019 and weighs 7lbs and 3oz. Their Royal Highnesses thank you for your support and kindness during this exceptionally joyful time in their lives as they welcome their baby boy.
A post shared by The Duke and Duchess of Sussex (@sussexroyal) on
He was gushing about his newborn son. “It’s been the most amazing experience I could ever have possibly imagined,” the beaming prince, 34, said.
“How any woman does what they do is beyond comprehension, but we’re both absolutely thrilled and so grateful for all the love and support from everybody out there. It’s been amazing, so I just wanted to share this with everybody.”
He added that being present for the birth was “amazing” and that he was “incredibly proud” of Meghan. “As every father and parent would ever say, your baby is absolutely amazing. This little thing is absolutely to die for. So I’m just over the moon.”
Harry, known media skeptic, does a media interview?
Harry is not a fan of the media, and he’s known to resent media intrusions since he and Meghan announced their engagement in 2017 and their marriage in May 2018.
So it was a break with traditional royal discretion for him to speak so emotionally on camera about his happiness at being a new father.
For all three of their children’s births, Will and Kate emerged from St. Mary’s within hours to face a crowd of well-wishers and media (some of whom had been there for days), and to pose briefly with the baby. But neither said anything, let alone gushed like Harry.
Was this spontaneous on Harry’s part or organized in advance by his press team? The palace has not said.
Harry promised the first public appearance of Baby Sussex will be Wednesday:
Royal babies’ names are typically not announced for at least a few days, in part because the queen has to be informed first.
With the birth of Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan's royal baby, enjoy looking back at these historic royal births, from the 1940s to today.
Harry said he and Meghan had not decided on a name yet, but he promised he and Meghan and baby would be back before cameras soon.
“The baby’s a little bit overdue so we’ve had a little bit of time to think about (the name), that’s the next bit,” he told reporters. “For us, we’ll be seeing you guys in probably two days’ time as planned.”
This is not the way the Cambridge children were introduced to the world: First as infants bundled in blankets, and then not seen again for months until their christenings.
Harry and Meghan kept one antique tradition:
The British royals have embraced modern communications and social media like everyone else. In fact, the video of Harry’s media gaggle appeared on the Sussexroyal Instagram account, which now has more than 6 million followers.
But about 11 hours after the baby was born, a couple of liveried footmen came out of Buckingham Palace carrying a gold-painted wooden easel and set it up just inside the palace front gates facing The Mall.
On it they placed a wood-framed paper announcement of the news the world had been waiting for, increasingly impatiently, for days: The Duchess of Sussex had safely delivered her son at 5.26 a.m.
Once upon a time, this was how Londoners first learned of a royal birth. Now it’s an afterthought – but beloved nonetheless.
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