IT is hard to imagine high-flying Meghan taking it easy after the arrival of her firstborn. It is not in her nature, as she proved by snubbing leggings and flat shoes for high heels and spotlight-stealing outfits during her robust pregnancy.
There was nothing frumpy in the 37-year-old Californian’s appearance and she wore her imminent motherhood with pride. She was already three months pregnant when she and Harry arrived in Sydney in October last year for their Commonwealth tour and announced there would soon be a Baby Sussex.
Meghan wanted to do every one of the 76 engagements planned in Australia, New Zealand, Tonga and Fiji, with the enthusiasm that has become her trademark.
Keeping up her yoga-inspired exercise regime, interspersed with regular meditation, her energy was boundless and she was feted wherever she went, clutching Harry’s hand and cradling her bump.
Meghan’s celebrity friends, barrister Amal Clooney, tennis ace Serena Williams and fashion stylist Jessica Mulroney, have all juggled motherhood with high-flying careers.
Inspired by her ambitious friends and her American work ethic, Meghan will almost certainly want the intellectual stimulation of her royal duties as soon as possible.
Even if she is not seen in public straight away, it has been suggested that her first public appearance might be Trooping The Colour on the Queen’s official birthday, Saturday, June 8.
Her own mother, Doria Ragland, returned to her work as a make-up artist soon after Meghan’s birth and managed a career alongside motherhood, with her mother Jeanette Johnson looking after baby Meghan while Doria was at work.
In the States, new mums are often back at their jobs within weeks as maternity leave is unpaid and usually lasts only up to three months.
Perhaps that was why, while married to film producer Trevor Engelson, Meghan reportedly made him agree that if she became pregnant, he would provide a nanny and a personal trainer to help regain her figure and return to her job as a high-profile actress as soon as possible.
MODERN PARENTING STYLE
Feminists Meghan and Harry have never felt the need to conform, so the idea of posing for snaps on the hospital steps was never going to be on their independent agenda — and their decision to keep their baby’s arrival private is nothing new.
When the Queen gave birth to Prince Andrew in Buckingham Palace on February 19, 1960, a 21-word statement was hung on the Palace railings by her medical team. It was more than a month later, on March 22, that there was any further news — and the infant’s name, Andrew Albert Christian Edward, and the first photograph of mother and child, taken by Cecil Beaton, was released.
An extra-strong bond of love and affection unites a couple at this moment and Meghan and Harry are right to want to keep these precious early times to themselves, rather than share them with the world as William and Kate managed so well, but Diana did not.
Shortly after posing for pictures on the hospital steps after William’s birth in 1982, Diana burst into tears of exhaustion as soon as their car left the front of the hospital and she subsequently suffered from post-natal depression.
Harry and Meghan’s modern way of thinking is in tune with all childcare manuals both ancient and modern.
Meghan’s determination to do things her way began when she selected her own female-led birthing team, leaving the royal gynaecologists who oversaw Kate’s three births to take a back seat. “Calm and relaxed” being the key words, whatever plans Harry and Meghan have for a gender-neutral nursery, meditation, gongs and wellness, it all makes sense if it helps them.
At a conference for International Women’s Day in March, Meghan recalled watching a documentary on feminism in which a pregnant mother said: “I feel the embryonic kicking of feminism. I loved that.” said Meghan. “Boy or girl — whatever it is — we hope that’s the case!”
NEW BRANCH ON FAMILY TREE
Meghan and Harry will obviously raise their child with progressive beliefs. It is likely Baby Sussex will feature heavily on Instagram. Savvy social media operator Meghan could subtlety use her and Harry’s official site to plug her feminist ideas and hints on how she is raising their new arrival.
The couple’s move to the privacy and peace of Frogmore Cottage in Windsor; their meditating and yoga; growing produce in an organic vegetable plot and their focus on their mental wellbeing are all part of their new life.
Their interest in “wellness” was confirmed when they spent more than two hours at healer and spiritual philosopher Denise Leicester’s flagship store Ilapothecary, in London’s Notting Hill Gate last month.
Wellness, chanting, crystals and healing are nothing new to Harry. When he was a child, Diana had her Kensington Palace home rearranged on the advice of a feng shui expert and practised yoga, healing and meditation and the ancient art of Chinese medicine.
As we have seen from countless photographs, Prince Harry is a natural with kids.
Now he has his own, he will be a hands-on father involved in every aspect of baby life. Meghan’s unconventional childhood and Harry’s more traditional upbringing could not be more different, but they were both instilled with love, kindness and “a sense of self and the importance of helping others”.
Meghan was taught by her mother Doria and Harry by Diana, who took eight-year-old Harry and his brother to a homeless refuge to witness a side of life in total contrast to theirs.
Diana insisted her boys should lead as normal a life as possible and took them shopping, to the cinema and to the local McDonald’s.
No let-up for globetrotting parents
THE jet-setting royal couple will return to their busy lives quicker than most new parents, writes Chris Pollard.
Harry flies to The Hague, Netherlands, on Thursday to formally launch this year’s Invictus Games — which he is the proud patron of.
Meghan’s first official public appearance is not expected to be until Trooping the Colour next month.
The annual event to mark the Queen’s official birthday falls on June 8 this year — when their son will be just over a month old.
Last year Kate attended the same spectacle when son Louis was just seven weeks old.
Harry and Meghan are also already planning their first post-baby overseas trip. It will be an autumn tour to their beloved Africa, but it is not known if their baby boy will travel too.
We revealed last month that Harry and Meghan have discussed with other senior royals what their roles might be after the birth of their first child.
Our report told how the talks involved a possible move to Africa for four months each year.
Conservation and human rights are issues close to both their hearts and South Africa and Botswana were understood to have been discussed as potential bases for the couple.
Just last week we also revealed that Meghan was looking at buying a Los Angeles home for the family near to her mum Doria.
'NATURAL WITH KIDS'
Harry was as conscious of his privileged start as Meghan was of her humble beginnings, and the two will complement each other as parents. Together they should provide a balanced existence for their son. In the US, child rearing is different, and Meghan will believe that praising the child in front of others and encouraging them to talk about their talents will make them stronger in the adult world.
Harry might have the opposing, English view of his mother, who never bragged about her children or talked about their achievements, as she considered modesty to be good manners and an important part of the learning process.
Harry joined William at Ludgrove boarding school in Berkshire, aged eight, then went to Eton College, where he struggled with his studies because of his dyslexia. Meghan was also privately educated but sailed through her schooling, ending up at Northwestern University. Their child may eventually attend one of the several nearby American schools, but I doubt Eton will be a consideration.
Both Meghan and Harry realise employing a nanny will be essential if they are to continue their philanthropic workand, as much as they might want to bring up the baby by themselves, it will be impossible.
They have registered with a top nanny recruitment agency in Kensington, rather than using a nanny trained at the prestigious Norland College in Bath as the Duchess of Cambridge did. The couple also have not ruled out an American candidate or male “Manny”. The nanny was the bedrock around which royal parenting existed for years and both nanny and royal parenting have evolved.
In the past, royal children were seen and not heard and never accompanied their parents on tours
Diana changed all that and took the infant Prince William to Australia and New Zealand — an example followed by Kate and William years later. Baby Sussex might well be toted around the globe on Prince Harry’s back and I am sure he will be taught about the things close to Harry and Meghan’s hearts — the dangers of climate change, the importance of conservation and how to help others and honour your own self-worth.
Whether or not they choose for their children to be involved in royal duties, or follow the example of the Princess Royal and reject titles and keep them out of royal life, remains to be seen. I think they will be encouraged to do royal duties and help their cousins George, Charlotte and Louis. And whether or not they take the traditional route towards upbringing as the Duchess of Cambridge has, or opt for a more laid-back LA lifestyle, is another ponderable.
Although in the US the English are regarded as barbaric for sending their children away to boarding school, the snob appeal of an English education and manners are still much sought after. Harry’s first nanny, Barbara Barnes, achieved the remarkable feat of having both him and William sitting up straight before their first birthdays.They said please and thank you almost as soon as they could talk.
She would not allow them comfort blankets and refused to put their little feet into shoes until they had learned to walk properly. And when they did get their first pairs of footwear, she insisted on classic Start-rite shoes with straps that were shaped to the boys’ feet. Trainers were banned.
Whether or not Meghan will agree with all these sensible but old- fashioned ideas we do not know. Prince Harry will certainly be a hands-on parent. He will be sharing the night shifts as they get up to comfort Baby Sussex and both will be changing the endless nappies.
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His concern for his wife is all- encompassing and he will want to be sure she has enough rest, while he takes on baby duties. Not because he has to, because he will want to. Although their lifestyle might appear lavish, Meghan has worked very hard since becoming married to our favourite, Prince Harry, and as a mum deserves to be allowed to do things her way, without criticism.
If that means travelling to the wilds of Africa or across the Commonwealth with their child, they should have the freedom of choice to do so.
- Ingrid Seward is the author of My Husband And I – the story of the Queen’s marriage, and editor-in- chief of Majesty magazine.
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