Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's baby could arrive at any moment, and there are some strict rules the royal couple will be held to.
Markle and Prince Harry announced that Baby Sussex was on their way back in October. While they have not specified a due date, the bundle of joy is likely due sometime soon. The royal family initially said that the baby would arrive in the spring, and fans can hardly contain their excitement.
Being a member of the British royal family comes with a lot of strict rules, however. Markle and Prince Harry will be held to the standard of monarchs, and expected to conduct themselves with the family's signature poise and restraint.
The rules of royal decorum — both overt and unspoken — have already played their part in Prince Harry and Markle's relationship. For example, Markle was a successful blogger and an avid user of social media before becoming engaged to the prince. Since then, she has had to delete all of her accounts and refrain from taking part in online discussions.
The couple also had to hold a royal wedding with the Church of England, although Markle did do her best to slip in personal touches where ever she could. Now, these compromises will be writ large in the raising of her baby, which is not just one event but a lifestyle in itself.
Here is a look at some of the rules Markle and Prince Harry will have to follow in the birth and rearing of their child.
Royals have a small pool of historic names to choose from. Markle and Harry will have to name their child after another member of the royal family from somewhere in their history. Prince William and Kate Middleton's children, for example, are all named after former royals — George, Charlotte and Louis.
Technically, the royal family does not have last names either. Whatever first name Markle and Harry choose for their child, it will go by that name "of Sussex."
It is royal tradition for the ruling monarch to be the first one to hear about a birth in the family. Harry and Markle will be expected to call Queen Elizabeth II before speaking to anyone else or making any public announcements.
This should not be hard, as the couple is not doing a public birth in the way the Prince William and Middleton did. There will be no press at the small hospital near Frogmore Cottage where Markle plans to give birth.
When it does come time to go public, there is a protocol in place for that as well. The royal family issues a specific kind of statement upon the birth of a new royal, including its gender and the date and time of their birth. The statement is posted outside of Buckingham Palace, although with social media it will presumably go worldwide as well.
It is unclear how Markle's private birth will effect his announcement strategy. The plaque may simply go up when they family decides to share their good news. Royal admirers will just have to wait and see.
Believe it or not, the royal family have official documents like birth certificates just like everyone else. On Prince Louis' birth certificate last year, Prince William named his occupation as "Prince of the United Kingdoms."
The baby blankets that newborn royals are swaddled in have been made by G.H. Hurt & Son since 1948. Prince Charles was the first to be presented in one of these blankets, and it has become a fun tradition ever since. William, Harry and all three of William's children have made their public debut in G.H. Hurt & Son blankets.
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The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are so grateful for the well wishes in anticipation of their first born. Today we introduce you to one of four charities the couple has asked that you consider supporting in lieu of sending gifts. Please meet The Lunchbox Fund:@thelunchboxfund provides a nutritious daily school meal to children in South Africa who would otherwise go hungry. Since its inception, @thelunchboxfund has provided over 20 million meals to school children in need. This meal encourages children to attend school and enables them to better concentrate and maximise their learning potential. As President and Vice President of The Queens Commonwealth Trust, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are committed to supporting the children and communities of the 53 commonwealth countries around the world. For those members of the public who have graciously asked to send baby gifts for the couple’s upcoming arrival, they ask that instead, you consider lending your support to @thelunchboxfund or the other 3 charities we will be sharing on our page Thank you for your kindness! Photos courtesy of: @thelunchboxfund
While fans and royal admirers will inevitably send Harry and Markle gifts for their baby, they are not allowed to keep them. The royals are expected to donate all of their presents to charity, as they have the means to purchase their own things.
In the hopes of being proactive on this tradition, Markle and Harry shared some of their favorite charities on their new Instagram account earlier this month, urging fans to simply send their gifts directly there.
Royal births are traditionally marked with a deafening 62 gun salute. The rounds are fired directly at the Tower of London by the King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery to announce the arrival of the new royal. Meanwhile, another 41 round gun salute is fired at the royals' Green Park.
In 2003, the United Kingdom passed statutory paternity leave available to all men and women in the country, including the royal family. Prince William was able to take six weeks off from his job as an air ambulance pilot when Princess Charlotte was born. While Prince Harry and Markle may not have day jobs right now, we may not hear much from them for a while after the birth.
Newborns in the royal family are always baptised by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the highest-ranked bishop in the Church of England. While he personally performs the ceremony, the Archbishop uses water from the River of Jordan, which is believed to be the same water that Jesus was baptized in.
In addition, the royals always wear a gown made of Honiton lace for the occasion. The gowns are modeled after one originally commissioned by Queen Victoria in 1840.
Markle herself had to be officially baptized into the Church of England before she was allowed to marry Harry.
Royals tend to have many godparents, usually other dignitaries and close friends of their parents. Many fans are speculating that Harry and Markle might pick some of their celebrity friends, such as Nick Jonas and Priyanka Chopra, but only time will tell.