Kensington Palace confirmed the royal baby news and announced that Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, is expecting to deliver in the spring of 2019. She and Prince Harry wed in May.
Royalty is proving fruitful these days: Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan’s news Monday that they expect a baby in the spring means another new cousin will join Queen Elizabeth II’s growing gaggle of great-grandchildren.
Soon, there will be eight little royals to delight the 92-year-old monarch and her husband, Prince Philip, 97.
The news was announced by Kensington Palace just as Harry and Meghan were arriving to start their Down Under tour of Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Tonga.
This baby is going to be historic, says Victoria Arbiter, daughter of a former royal press secretary, who is now CNN’s royals contributor.
“There’s no question he or she is going to be gorgeous and adorable, half-American and of mixed-race heritage, so what a time to be witnesses to the royal family and history,” Arbiter says. “It does reflect on modern society: History is being made with this baby.”
What do we know so far?
Who are the baby’s royal cousins?
The baby will be first cousin to Prince George, 5; Princess Charlotte, 3; and baby Prince Louis of Cambridge, almost 6 months, the children of uncle Prince William and Duchess Kate of Cambridge.
The baby’s four second cousins include Mia Tindall, 4, and Lena Tindall, who was born in June to Harry’s cousin, Zara Phillips Tindall (the queen’s eldest granddaughter), and her husband Mike Tindall.
Also: Savannah Phillips, 7, and Isla Phillips, 6, the daughters of Zara’s brother, Peter Phillips, also Harry’s cousin and the queen’s eldest grandson. Both Zara and Peter are the children of Princess Anne, the Princess Royal.
And Princess Eugenie of York, 28, the queen’s granddaughter and Harry’s cousin who married Jack Brooksbank on Friday, might be expected to produce royal great-grandchild Number 9 in the near future, too. That baby also would be a second cousin to Harry and Meghan’s baby.
No morning sickness for Meghan?
She just turned 37, so doctors consider this a “geriatric” pregnancy (when mom is over age 35) with a higher risk for miscarriage and other complications.
“Most geriatric pregnancies end up with a great outcome (healthy mom and baby) as long as there is a close monitoring in the prenatal period and during the pregnancy,” says Zaher Merhi, an ob-gyn doctor and director of research and development in IVF Technologies at New Hope Fertility Center in New York.
Still, it appears Meghan is not suffering from the acute morning sickness syndrome that felled her sister-in-law, Duchess Kate, during the early months of her three pregnancies.
Thus, Meghan was able to endure a long overseas flight to Australia before embarking on a grueling two weeks of traveling to public engagements in the Southern Hemisphere, where high temperatures can be expected.
Like Kate, Meghan is slim and she doesn’t show much of a baby bump in early stages. On Oct. 3, she wore a dark green leather skirt during an engagement; there wasn’t even a hint of a pregnancy.
That didn’t stop Twitter from speculating on what Meghan wore to Eugenie’s wedding: a loose-fitting, navy Givenchy coat, which could have hidden a baby bump.
Will the new baby be called a prince or princess? Something else?
Betting on whether the new little royal will be a boy or girl commenced immediately in Britain, where they bet on anything having to do with royals. More interesting is the question of whether the baby will be officially titled a prince or princess.
The simple answer is it’s up to the queen. It also matters how far the child is to the throne. This baby will be 7th in line, just behind Harry, who is 6th in line, so he or she is unlikely to ever be crowned.
The rules on titles and “style” were last established by the queen’s grandfather, King George V, in 1917: They dictate that an HRH and title of prince or princess would be confined to children of the sovereign and the children of sons of the sovereign.
“The grandchildren of the sons of any such Sovereign in the direct male line (save only the eldest living son of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales) shall have and enjoy in all occasions the style and title enjoyed by the children of dukes,” the rules say.
So Prince George, as eldest son of the elder son of Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, and thus third in line to the throne, got the prince title. But the queen also bestowed it on Princess Charlotte, 4th in line, and baby Prince Louis, 5th in line.
If the queen decides the first Sussex baby will not be styled prince or princess, the baby, if a boy, would likely take one of Harry’s lesser titles, such as Earl of Dumbarton, that he received from the queen on the morning of his wedding along with royal Duke of Sussex.
Arbiter says the baby’s grandfather, future King Charles III, might want to ensure that all his grandchildren have titles, since they are likely to carry out public duties when they are older and their granddad is on the throne.
“This is a decision not to be taken lightly, which is one reason why there has been no decision announced as yet,” Arbiter says. “I think this is going to be decided by the queen, Prince Charles and Meghan and Harry together.”
Who comes after Harry and Meghan’s baby? See more of the line of succession
The baby will have an unprecedented ancestry for the royal family.
The baby will be one-quarter African-American, thanks to Meghan, whose father is white and whose mother is African-American. There’s never been an acknowledged part-African baby born into the royal family – or even an American baby.
Meghan is believed to be the first royal bride with African-American ancestry to join the family, although some scholars insist that 18th-century King George III’s wife, Queen Charlotte, had African ancestry many generations back before she was born in 1744 in Germany. And the Windsors all descend from one of their sons.
Nevertheless, it would be a first in the modern era, and would likely boost the family’s popularity with its growing minority populations in the U.K. and in the Commonwealth, where Harry and Meghan will play an important role.
Will the baby be a British citizen, an American citizen or both?
The baby will likely be born in London at St. Mary’s Hospital so for sure he or she will be a citizen of the United Kingdom, especially as a member of the British royal family.
But Meghan, as an American awaiting U.K. citizenship, could also pass on her U.S. citizenship to her baby – unless she renounces her citizenship for tax purposes after she receives her U.K. citizenship and before the baby is born.
If not, Meghan could ensure the baby has dual citizenship by applying for a Consular Report of Birth Abroad before the child’s 18th birthday. The State Department recommends parents apply for the CRBA as soon as possible after the child’s birth.
According to American rules, once the child reaches 18, he or she may choose either citizenship or keep both.
Will the baby have red hair like Prince Harry’s?
The gene for red hair in humans is recessive, meaning generally you can have red hair only by getting two red-hair genes, one each from your parents. A brown gene combined with a red gene usually produces brown hair, because brown is usually the dominant gene.
Red hair runs in Harry’s family: The Earls of Spencer, the family of his mother, Princess Diana, had lots of “gingers,” as they call it in Britain. Diana’s father, brother and one of her sisters had or have hair like Harry’s.
It’s possible that somewhere in Meghan’s genetic makeup there might be a gene for red hair from one of her ancestors, but the likelihood of it turning up in Meghan and then combining with Harry’s gene to produce another ginger prince is small.
John H. McDonald, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Delaware, says the basic genetics we learned in high school is either wrong or oversimplified. He says it is possible, for instance, for two brown-haired parents to produce a redhead child – such as himself – because inheritance involves multiple factors besides genes.
“Human traits are more complicated than the simple recessive model we learned,” McDonald says. “I would say it wouldn’t be a shocking surprise (if the royal baby had red hair). My guess is there’s a 5 to 10 percent chance but it makes a big difference if her European ancestors were from, say, Ireland (vs.) Greece.”
What will the baby’s name be?
Again, let’s go to the bookies. BetVictor, a leading European online betting company, put the name Diana as the 6-to-1 favorite if it’s a girl, said spokesman Charlie McCann.
Diana, for Harry’s late mother, Princess Diana, is also one of the middle names of Princess Charlotte, Harry’s niece.
“We make Diana our 6/1 favorite with Charles and Elizabeth next best at 12/1,” McCann said. “We have seen a bit of interest in both Alexander and Alexandra since this morning, although it will not be until the New Year before the market (heats) up as speculation intensifies over the name and gender of the baby.”
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