Meghan, Harry welcome baby boy
PRINCE Harry and Meghan Markle are officially parents to a baby boy.
The Duchess of Sussex gave birth to her first child early on Monday morning local time, after months of speculation about her exact due date.
"Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Sussex was safely delivered of a son at 0526hrs (2.26pm Monday AEST)," Buckingham Palace said in a statement. "The baby weighs 7lbs 3oz (3.26kg).
"The Duke of Sussex was present for the birth."
A traditional easel bearing the royal birth notice was placed outside the Palace.
The "overjoyed" couple confirmed the arrival of the new seventh in line to the throne in a statement posted on Instagram, thanking the public for sharing in an "exceptionally joyful" time in their lives.
View this post on Instagram
We are pleased to announce that Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Sussex welcomed their firstborn child in the early morning on May 6th, 2019. Their Royal Highnesses’ son weighs 7lbs. 3oz. The Duchess and baby are both healthy and well, and the couple thank members of the public for their shared excitement and support during this very special time in their lives. More details will be shared in the forthcoming days.
"The Duchess and baby are both healthy and well, and the couple thank members of the public for their shared excitement and support during this very special time in their lives," the post read. "More details will be shared in the forthcoming days."
A beaming Prince Harry addressed the media outside Windsor Castle, saying: "I'm very excited to announce that Meghan and myself had a baby boy earlier this morning, a very healthy boy. Mother and baby are doing incredibly well, it's been the most amazing experience I could ever have possibly imagined. How any woman does what they do is beyond comprehension.
The prince said more details will be shared in the coming days, with royal fans dying to catch a glimpse of the new arrival. "This little baby is absolutely to die for," he added. "I'm just over the moon."
Harry said the couple had not yet decided on a name for their son and would make their first appearance as a family in a couple of days' time. Bookmakers have been taking bets on possible names, with Arthur, Edward, James and Phillip among the current favourites.
The little boy will be the first royal born with joint British and American heritage, and will be eligible for dual citizenship.
"It was amazing, absolutely incredible," said Harry. "As I say, I am so incredibly proud of my wife and, as every father and parent would ever say your baby is absolutely amazing, this little baby is absolutely to die for."
Meghan's "overjoyed" mother Doria Ragland is with the couple at their home of Frogmore Cottage, on the Windsor estate, having flown in to the UK from Los Angeles late last month to be present for the birth of her first grandchild.
It has not been confirmed whether Meghan gave birth at home, although there were no reports of vehicles exiting and entering the castle grounds with an escort on Sunday night or Monday morning.
View this post on Instagram
This afternoon, His Royal Highness The Duke of Sussex shared the news of the arrival of his and the Duchess’ first born child. Their son was born early morning on the 6th of May, 2019 and weighs 7lbs and 3oz. Their Royal Highnesses thank you for your support and kindness during this exceptionally joyful time in their lives as they welcome their baby boy.
"The Queen, The Duke of Edinburgh, The Prince of Wales, The Duchess of Cornwall, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Lady Jane Fellowes, Lady Sarah McCorquodale and Earl Spencer have been informed and are delighted with the news," the Palace said in its statement. "Her Royal Highness and her child are both doing well."
Princess Eugenie's father Prince Andrew shared the Instagram post with his congratulations, while couple's celebrity friends also expressed excitement. Meghan's former Suits co-star Sarah Rafferty tweeted that, "Hearts are leaping for a beautiful, wondrous and healthy baby boy!"
Ryan Seacrest tweeted: "It's a boy! Congrats to Meghan Markle and Prince Harry. The royal baby is 7th in line to the British throne...and the latest entry in the race for the iron throne."
The Archbishop of Canterbury said in a statement: "Congratulations to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex on the birth of their baby boy. May God bless the new family with love, health and happiness."
The Palace confirmed on Monday afternoon local time that the duchess had gone into labour with the duke by her side. "The Duchess went into labour in the early hours of this morning," the notice said. "An announcement will be made soon."
In fact, Baby Sussex had already been born.
The exact due date of the royal baby had remained shrouded in mystery since the pregnancy was first announced - just hours after Prince Harry and Meghan arrived in Sydney for their Royal Tour last October - with the Palace simply announcing it would be in the British springtime.
But with Meghan having taken maternity leave after her final public engagement on March 19, and hinting last December that she was due in "late April", feverish excitement has been building for weeks.
Now that the royal baby has finally arrived, here's everything we know:
The newest little royal hasn't automatically been born into a title, despite dad Harry's "prince" status.
According to King George V's 1917 decree, only the oldest son of the Prince of Wales' oldest son (so Prince George) was entitled to be called His Royal Highness and a Prince.
In late 2012, the Queen amended the rule, declaring that all of Prince William and Kate Middleton's children would be titled HRH, either prince or princess.
At that time, the ruling didn't apply to any of Prince Harry's children - so unless a change is made, this new bub will be styled as Lord Mountbatten-Windsor. The Queen's eighth great-grandchild will get one of the lesser titles that the Queen gave Harry on his wedding day, so he will most likely be the Earl of Dumbarton. Any subsequent boys will simply be Lord Mountbatten-Windsor.
And it's unlikely the Queen will bend the rule again for Harry and Meghan, according to experts.
Harry himself has indicated he wants his children to have as normal lives as possible - and skipping the HRH would certainly help.
The baby's grandfather and future King of England, Prince Charles, is also looking to downsize and streamline the monarchy, so will be reluctant to expand the HRH titles any further, according to royal protocol expert, William Hanson.
WHERE THEY'LL LIVE
Millions of dollars have been spent on refurbishing Harry and Meghan's new home, Frogmore Cottage in Windsor, but it's possible they may not actually stay there for very long.
New reports suggest palace aides are drawing up plans to hand the couple a major international job in Africa after the birth of their child, with Harry's advisers allegedly working on a "bespoke" role for the couple that will combine charity work with a role promoting Britain.
However, a royal spokesperson has since clarified to Hello! magazine that "no decision" had yet been made about any potential overseas postings.
"Any future plans for the Duke and Duchess are speculative at this stage," the spokesperson explained. "No decisions have been taken about future roles. The Duke will continue to fulfil his role as Commonwealth Youth Ambassador."
There were also reports of the couple buying a second home in Los Angeles.
Baby Sussex already has plenty of playmates, with Prince William and Kate Middleton's children, Prince George, 5, Princess Charlotte, 3, and Prince Louis, 1, just a half-hour drive away at Kensington Palace in London.
Baby Sussex will probably have a large number of godparents, as per royal tradition, but they won't be revealed until closer to the christening. William and Kate's kids have a staggering 18 godparents between them so we can expect Harry and Meghan will probably follow suit.
It's very unlikely Uncle William or Aunty Kate will be named as godparents - they've got three kids of their own, plus Harry and Meghan were left off the godparent list when Prince Louis was born last year.
Instead, it's very possible that Jessica Mulroney - and even her husband, Ben - could be chosen, as the couple is very close to Harry and Meghan.
Their three children - twins Brian and John and daughter Isabel (who goes by the name Ivy) were all in Meghan's bridal party - and Jessica threw Meghan's lavish baby shower in New York in February.
George and Amal Clooney have spent plenty of time with the Sussexes and were initially considered to be godparent material - but the actor ruled himself out of the running in early 2019.
Tennis champ Serena Williams' close ties with the Duchess of Sussex puts her in with a good chance, along with movie star Priyanka Chopra and Meghan's old college friend, Lindsay Jill Roth.
On Prince Harry's side, we're likely to see the surname "van Cutsem" somewhere in the list. Prince Charles is close friends with banker Hugh van Cutsem, and William and Harry grew up with his sons - William, Nicholas, Hugh Jr, and Edward.
Royal expert Katie Nicholl reported earlier this year via Vanity Fair that the couple have decided against hiring a nanny. Instead, Meghan's mum Doria Ragland will help manage their baby load and may even take up residence in her own room in the couple's new Windsor residence, Frogmore Cottage.
Royals traditionally wait until their babies are three months old before having them christened - so we're in for a bit of a wait.
Harry and Meghan are expected to follow William and Kate's lead in holding an intimate ceremony (Louis' christening last year was attended by only 30 people) attended by a small number of family members and senior royals.
Where it will be held is still in question: Prince George and Prince Louis were both baptised in the Chapel Royal at St James's Palace, while Princess Charlotte was baptised at Sandringham in Norfolk. Harry and Meghan may go with one of those popular options - or branch out to another royal location entirely.