It seems like forever ago now (thanks to the insane news cycle that has been 2020) but back in May 2019 the headlines weren’t about the way a disease or politics could impact families. Instead, much of the media attention was on just one growing family: The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
Yes, one year, five months and 25 days ago all eyes were on then mama-to-be Meghan Markle and reporters and royal watchers were clamoring for any news about the royal baby.
We cannot imagine how stressful it must be to be expecting your first child knowing that the press is absolutely ravenous for any detail, and especially for a photo of your child.
That’s why new details from royal biographer Robert Lacey’s book, Battle of Brothers: William and Harry – The Inside Story of a Family in Tumult, make sense. According to Lacey, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle didn’t announce their son’s birth in real-time, but rather after the fact. This gave the new family time to get home safely from the hospital without alerting photographers.
Prince Harry’s mom was hounded by photographers until her death. It is totally reasonable that the Duke of Sussex didn’t want that happening the day of his son’s birth. Lacey writes: “Harry and Meghan were resolute that their newborn baby’s first sight of the world should not be the same insane and lethal camera-flashings that had attended—had actually brought about—the death of Diana.”
We’ve said it before: No mama owes anyone else a place at their birth or time with their baby. This is true if you are an accountant in Wisconsin or a Duchess in England.
Baby Archie was and is Harry and Meghan’s to protect. The family didn’t owe the world a birth story or a baby photo. And if they took measures to avoid a crush of paparazzi mere hours after their son’s birth, who on Earth could blame them?
Despite the fact that Harry is sixth in line for the throne—which makes Archie so far out of the circle that his position is more comparable to that of Princess Anne’s children, Zara Tindall or Peter Phillips, than to his cousins, Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis—his birth was still a media circus. The public and the press didn’t “deserve” a look or an update on Prince Williams’ kids either, but their proximity to the crown made the protocol and pomp harder for Will and Kate to escape the expectations. Prince Harry and Meghan didn’t care about living to those expectations, according to Lacey. And it meant some people, including members of the press, turned against them.
Lacey writes that Prince William (whose newborn children were all photographed on the steps of the hospital after their births) “did not think too highly” of the Sussex’s plan to keep Archie’s birth under wraps.
“Their stratagem was bolstered by Buckingham Palace’s putting out a strangely misleading statement at 2 p.m. that day saying that the Duchess of Sussex was just going into labor—when she had, in fact, been delivered of her new son eight hours earlier,” Lacey writes.
And when the Duke and Duchess made Archie’s christening a private affair and did not publicly name their son’s godparents, people were not kind. “Here again, however, precedent, protocol and practice all collided headlong with Harry and Meghan’s firm insistence on their privacy—and that of their new baby,” Lacey writes.
But that insistence on privacy is theirs to hold, and considering how intrusive and aggressive the British tabloid press can be, it was actually an instance on safety. It makes sense that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle took pains to protect their baby. Any of us would.