LONDON — Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, welcomed a baby boy on Monday. Prince Harry said, “I’m just over the moon!” The global media said, “Show us the baby!”
A beaming Harry, standing beside a horse stable near his home in Windsor, told the press: “We will be seeing you guys in probably two days’ time, as planned, as a family, to be able to share it with you guys, and so that everyone can see the baby.”
Baby Sussex is seventh in line to the British throne and Queen Elizabeth II’s eighth great-grandchild. In terms of the monarchy, his birth is not especially consequential.
But there is widespread fascination with this first child born to Britain’s popular prince and his unusually outspoken American wife.
Meghan, a California native, remains a U.S. citizen while waiting for her British citizenship to be approved. And so the baby is half-American and may choose to hold dual nationality.
The baby is also getting attention as Britain’s first multiracial royal offspring in centuries. Meghan’s father is white and her mother is African American.
Buckingham Palace said the baby arrived at first light, at 5:26 a.m., and weighs a satisfying 7 pounds, 3 ounces.
There was first an announcement on Instagram, and later a placard presented on the forecourt of Buckingham Palace by a pair of courtiers dressed in tails and red vests.
Harry told reporters that the baby had been “a bit overdue” and that the couple was “still thinking about names.”
British oddsmakers said that “James” and “Alexander” are the favorites. But, then again, the bookies predicted the baby would be a girl.
The queen will decide whether the latest member of the royal family will be awarded the title “prince.”
No matter, Harry endeared himself to mums everywhere when he gushed: “It’s been the most amazing experience I could ever have possibly imagined. How any woman does what they do is beyond comprehension.”
The palace reported that he was at Meghan’s side during the delivery.
Harry’s wonder at the miracle of birth — and the great effort involved — stood in contrast to how Prince William and Catherine, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, have played it. Kate is famous for appearing just hours after birth outside the maternity wing in London. She always looks great, by the way. But many have said her turn before the cameras presents a slightly skewed version of what happens behind the scenes.
The British press is especially eager to know whether Baby Sussex was born at home at Frogmore Cottage, the mini-mansion on the Windsor grounds where the threesome — plus staff — will reside. Royal correspondents have reported — and tut-tutted — that the “headstrong” American Meghan wished to have a more naturalistic birth, with help from a midwife, vs. being surrounded by “men in suits.”
It is fair to say, too, there is mild curiosity in Britain about the baby’s appearance. Known mixed-race British royals are rare enough that one must travel back to before the American Revolution to find a candidate. Some historians believe Queen Charlotte, wife of King George III, was of African descent.
Meghan has addressed the issue herself, saying that when she was young, she was not sure what box to tick. “While my mixed heritage may have created a gray area surrounding my self-identification, keeping me with a foot on both sides of the fence, I have come to embrace that,” she wrote in Elle magazine in 2016. “To say who I am, to share where I’m from, to voice my pride in being a strong, confident mixed-race woman.”
When the couple was first reported to be romantically involved, Harry issued an extraordinary palace statement condemning what he saw as the “racial undertones” of the coverage and “the outright sexism and racism of social media trolls and web article comments.”
Meghan is estranged from her father. But her mother, Doria Ragland, was there for the birth on Monday. The palace said Ragland is “overjoyed by the arrival of her first grandchild.”
Royal watchers had expected the birth to have happened sooner — and camera crews and super fans had been staked out in Windsor town, outside the castle walls, awaiting the arrival.
Last week, Buckingham Palace said Prince Harry was planning a two-day trip to the Netherlands on May 8 and 9. On Friday, the palace revised the plan to say he is postponing Wednesday’s scheduled official visit to Amsterdam but will still attend an Invictus Games event in The Hague on Thursday. Interpreting what all this meant for the due date was not easy.
Meghan might be thankful she wasn’t producing heirs in a previous era, when the birthing room for a royal baby was a decidedly more crowded place.
Before Prince Charles’s birth, royal births were attended by the British home secretary. When Queen Elizabeth II was born in 1926, then-Home Secretary Sir William Joynson-Hicks took a break from the political crisis of the day to witness her birth. At the time, she wasn’t even expected to become queen.
But the tradition of courtiers and people such as the home secretary and the archbishop of Canterbury attending the births of royal babies has since been scrapped.
Harry and Meghan met in 2016 when she was an actress on the legal drama “Suits,” filmed in Toronto, where Markle had been living.
In a BBC interview shortly after their engagement, Harry said that on meeting Meghan, he thought to himself, “I’m really going to have to up my game here.” Their wedding last year at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor was a global event, with the likes of Oprah Winfrey, George and Amal Clooney, and Serena Williams in attendance.