‘We’re in uncharted territory’: Royal expert shares everything she knows about baby Sussex
The newest royal baby is due anytime now, and rumours are swirling about when, where and how the little bundle of joy will arrive.
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry have been tight-lipped about the details of the impending birth. Markle wouldn’t even share the baby’s exact due date, though eagle-eyed fans narrowed it down to sometime between the end of April and early May.
Now, as the world waits, here are a few things to know about baby Sussex.
Where will Meghan give birth?
Royal expert Victoria Arbiter calls this the “million-dollar question.”
Many royal mothers, including Princess Diana and the Duchess of Cambridge, have given birth in the Lindo Wing, but whether Markle will choose the downtown London hospital is up for debate.
“The Lindo Wing has seen more royal births than any other hospital, but that doesn’t mean it’s a tradition,” said Arbiter. “I think where to give birth is very much a personal choice.”
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“Harry and Meghan are now living in Windsor, so I think it’s looking increasingly likely that they’re going to be choosing a facility closer to their home base in Windsor,” she said.
As members of the Royal Family, a hospital’s ability to provide adequate security and privacy are also likely of importance to Markle and Harry.
“I think that’s why a number of royal moms have chosen the Lindo Wing,” Arbiter said. “It’s very well-versed in how to handle those things — security, privacy and discretion.”
Markle wouldn’t be the first to depart from convention, should she choose to give birth elsewhere.
“Fergie had her babies at the Portland hospital, Sophie Wessex had her babies at Frimley Park, which is not too far from Windsor,” said Arbiter. “Really, we just have to wait and see.”
How will the royal baby be announced?
“It depends on whether or not we even know if Meghan’s in hospital,” said Arbiter. “That’s even not certain at this point.”
In the past, the Royal Family has alerted the public to hospital admittance in the past. “It’s very difficult for a royal to sneak into hospital, so… with Kate, we got the notice when she was already in hospital. That way, had anyone spotted her going in, [the royals] were still ahead of the story.”
However, since Markle and Harry like to do things their own way, this may not be the case when Markle goes into labour.
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“They’re not breaking tradition, they’re not breaking protocol — they’re just doing what works for them. We’re in… uncharted territory.”
According to Arbiter, the baby’s arrival will be announced in two ways: with a ceremonial easel on the forecourt at Buckingham Palace, and via social media.
The easel will say “the baby’s time of birth, it will be signed by the doctors attending [and] it will say something along the lines of ‘Mother and baby are doing well,'” said Arbiter. The easel usually stays up in front of the palace for 24 hours.
“Of course, in this modern age, the news will [also] be beamed around the world with social media,” Arbiter said. “I think Harry and Meghan will definitely make use of their independent Instagram account.”
Arbiter thinks the announcement will first land on the Sussex Instagram page, then it will later be shared to the Royal Family’s Facebook and Twitter accounts.
Where will baby Sussex fall in the line of succession?
This baby will be seventh in line, right behind dad Prince Harry.
From closest to the throne to farthest away, the line of succession will be as follows: Charles, William, George, Charlotte, Louis, Harry and then baby Sussex.
“It’s very unlikely that this baby will ever be monarch. It would take a catastrophe of unforeseen circumstances if we were to wipe out Charles and the entire Cambridge clan,” said Arbiter. “But he or she will still be the grandchild of the Sovereign, and him and Harry will take on very significant roles once Charles is King, in particular.”
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There’s been much speculation about why the baby is not eligible for a royal title, but Arbiter said this rule stems back to George V.
“People who don’t know better are using it as an opportunity to say the Queen is angry with Meghan… which is nonsense,” Arbiter said. “[George V] just didn’t foresee a future in which there would be four generations alive.”
Had the Queen already passed, this baby — as the grandchild of the Sovereign in the male line — would be HRH Prince or Princess. Since the Queen is still alive, this baby is not eligible for the title of HRH Prince or Princess.
“If a boy comes along, he will likely be the Earl of Dumbarton, one of Harry’s subsidiary titles. If a little girl comes along, she will be Lady (first name) Mountbatten-Windsor,” Arbiter said.
That said, baby Sussex’s title may change once Charles becomes King.
“Under the current rules, an upgrade would be in the offering,” said Arbiter. “[When Charles becomes King,] this baby would technically become HRH Prince or Princess… the thing is, Charles has been clear he wants to slim down monarchy. He may issue new letters patent and so this baby wouldn’t be eligible.”
It’s also possible Markle and Harry don’t want their baby to have a royal title, as it comes with more rules, responsibilities and a life more in the public eye.
Ultimately, this will need to be discussed by Charles, William, Harry and Meghan down the line, said Arbiter.
What responsibilities will this baby have as a member of the Royal Family?
It will ultimately depend on the child’s official title.
“Let’s say there’s no royal title,” said Arbiter. “There will be no need for he or she to have military service, or carry out royal engagements, to have royal patronages or to do work on behalf of the Royal Family. It would follow the same model as Princess Anne’s children.”
However, regardless of title, the Sussex children will have a fair amount of flexibility in the work they do because they’re several steps away from the throne.
Arbiter believes that given Markle and Harry’s own philanthropic efforts, they will be keen to have their children give back to the community.
How will the child’s U.S. citizenship change things?
Meghan Markle is a U.S. citizen, which means this royal baby will be the first in the history of the Royal Family to have U.S. citizenship, and this presents some anomalies when it comes to money.
“Meghan, as a U.S. citizen, does have to file a tax return. I’m not a tax expert, but as I understand it, you’re charged a percentage of taxes while you’re outside of the country,” said Arbiter.
This was confirmed by David Treitel, the founder of American Tax Returns Ltd., in an interview with CNN.
Despite living in the U.K., Markle will be obliged to file a U.S. tax return and to report any foreign accounts, assets over $200,000 and gifts valued more than $15,797 “regardless of whether it is actually in your possession,” Treitel told CNN.
This means Markle has needed to declare items like the diamond in her engagement ring, taken from Princess Diana’s jewelry collection, for example. Baby Sussex will be required to do the same with all of his or her assets and income until they are 18 years old.
“The Queen has got to sit there and her advisers have to sit there thinking, ‘Well if I lend Meghan a tiara, if I have the baby use a beautiful silver rattle that was used by Queen Victoria, how much is that worth? What’s the value of it? How much is to be reported to the states? It’s a tough question, it’s not easy,” Treitel said.
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And the Royal Family is “notoriously private” about their finances, said Arbiter, so this is sure to cause some issue.
“They also don’t own a lot of what they have,” Arbiter said. “[For example], Harry and Meghan have been gifted Frogmore Cottage, but it’s not theirs to sell. It belongs to the state.”
“It becomes a huge financial nightmare… and the Royal Family will try desperately to keep their finances private.”
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