Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are preparing for royal baby No. 1, which is due to arrive by the end of April. And though they’ll be first-time parents, the pair will have the entire British throne to back them up — and give them a few rules to follow along the way.
Many royal enthusiasts tend to agree: the pair is unlike any other royal couple, especially compared to Prince William and Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge. However, they have stuck to many royal traditions over the past year, and they’ll likely continue some of the years-old customs their relatives have followed before them.
In fact, Markle has already vowed to follow one royal rule — keeping the gender of her first child a secret.
Here’s a closer look at that particular rule, and some other royal customs the British monarchy has established about childbirth.
Keeping the gender under wraps
Not even Prince Harry or Markle will know the gender of their baby until the actual birth. So, royal fans will likely find out the baby’s sex just hours after Markle gives birth.
Markle has already confirmed she doesn’t want to know the baby’s gender, anyway.
“I asked her if she was having a girl or a boy and she said she didn’t know,” a 9-year-old girl named Kitty Dudley, who asked the Duchess of Sussex if her first child would be a boy or a girl during a royal appearance in Birkenhead, told HELLO! Magazine.
“Meghan said there are ‘strong opinions about [the baby’s sex], but it’s a 50/50 split!’” well-wisher Jean Elliott also told People.
Prince Harry apparently admitted in the past that he’s hoping for a girl.
“I hope it’s a girl!” a woman in the crowd shouted out during an event for the Invictus Games in Sydney, Australia back in October.
Chuckling, Prince Harry replied, “So do I!”
Queen Elizabeth on speed dial
Okay, maybe Queen Elizabeth won’t really be on speed dial — but she will be the couple’s first call shortly after birth.
Prince William always informed his grandmother first after Middleton gave birth. According to The Daily Mail, Prince William made the call on an encrypted phone.
After the Queen is informed, then the royal couple’s staff will start to inform other high-profile individuals, such as the prime minister.
Naming their baby after royalty
Kate Middleton carries Princess Charlotte after taking her out of a pram as they arrive for Charlotte’s Christening at St. Mary Magdalene Church in Sandringham, England. (AP)
Members of the royal family typically name their children after past or present royals.
Prince William and Kate Middleton have stuck to this tradition — and Prince Harry and Markle are expected to do the same.
George Alexander Louis’ first name was a tribute to Queen Elizabeth II’s father and grandfather.
“Alexander is believed to have been picked by the couple to honor the Queen, whose middle name is Alexandra,” People explained in a July 2013 post. “[The] name Louis ‘is a nice tribute’ to the Queen’s husband, Prince Philip, whose grandfather was Prince Louis Alexander of Battenberg.”
The name Charlotte Elizabeth Diana “pays tribute to Prince Charles, Kate’s great-grandmother Elizabeth, Her Majesty the Queen, and, most tellingly of all, William’s late mother, the Princess of Wales,” according to Vanity Fair.
Their third child is known as His Royal Highness Prince Louis Arthur Charles.
The couple says they named their son Louis — pronounced LOO-ee — after William’s grandfather, Prince Charles, and the Duke’s mentor — Louis Mountbatten — who was killed by an Irish Republican Army bomb in 1979.
Wrapped in a royal knit blanket
Prince William and his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, appear with their baby daughter Charlotte outside the Lindo Wing of St Mary’s Hospital. (Reuters)
Prince Harry and Markle’s baby will be swaddled in a knit blanket made in Nottingham, England.
A local family-owned company called G.H.Hurt & Son has been producing handmade lacy blankets for more than 100 years and has provided several items to recent royals, particularly for their child’s public introduction to the world, according to Good Housekeeping. If the pair has a girl, she will also probably wear a stylish knitted cap — just like her cousin Princess Charlotte did.
Prince Louis was the most recent child to be wrapped in a blanket produced by G.H. Hurt & Son, and it’s something the company boasts about online.
“All the staff here at G. H Hurt & Son were delighted to see the Royal couple emerge from St Mary’s Hospital today, with their newborn son wrapped in our ‘Nottingham Lace Knitted Baby Shawl,'” the company posted on its website in April 2018. “We feel honoured that William and Kate have again chosen our beautiful merino wool lacy knit baby shawls, knitted here in Nottingham, and in doing so have continued a tradition for the next generation of Royals.”
A team of midwives
A team of midwives are typically present for the birth of a royal baby. Middleton had at least three present during the birth of Princess Charlotte, despite reportedly having at least 20 medical professionals at her disposal.
“We had a huge team,” said Professor Tiong Ghee Teoh, a consultant obstetrician and gynecologist, told Town and Country Magazine in April 2018. “For anything that could possibly go wrong we had a team of people behind each specialty. Everyone was sworn to secrecy about who it was.”
Marcus Setchell, who was Queen Elizabeth’s surgeon-gynecologist, said it’s important to have midwives on hand in the event of an emergency.
“There are certain situations when someone is giving birth that it’s important not just to have a specialist sort of available at the end of a telephone, but actually in the same room to deal with anything that’s immediately going to be wrong,” he told The Telegraph in April 2018.