Royal wives do seem to have had a tough time in pregnancy, so it is refreshing to note that Meghan Markle, the oldest royal mother in living memory at 37, has apparently conceived within weeks of getting married and bounced so effortlessly through the first three months of her pregnancy that no-one even realized she was pregnant.
Now, like many royal wives before her, the evolution of her "bump" will be observed by the media and then there will be the frenzy of the birth-day itself.
In just over six months time, Meghan will stand on the steps of a London hospital and present to the world the first ever biracial member of the British royal family.
It will be a memorable and much-parsed moment, and while the destination is clear, the journey between now and then will be filled with twists and turns.
One thing that is not in doubt, however, is that as her pregnancy progresses, Meghan will be the recipient of some of the finest and most exclusive maternal medical care in the world.
Naturally, much of this attention will follow the template laid down by Kate Middleton.
Meghan will almost certainly make use of the same team of obstetricians— headed up by Alan Farthing and Guy Thorpe-Beeston—that Kate did, and she will also probably give birth at the same London hospital that Kate (and Diana) did, the exclusive Lindo Wing of St. Mary’s in Paddington, where a birth with all the trimmings, including a private suite with its own sitting room and freshly cut flowers, can costs upwards of £10,000.
Of course this is small change for Harry and Meghan, and makes sense as all the people and institutions involved are experienced; well-versed, by now, in the peculiar art of managing a royal pregnancy of global interest.
The contingency planning will be second to none. If all goes smoothly, then Meghan’s pregnancy will be not much different to that of any other expectant mom, but it’s the team that stands ready to swing into action if things go wrong—theater staff, lab technicians, anaesthetists, and pediatricians—that make a royal pregnancy so different.
Should the baby come early, doctors will be available to Meghan and Harry at a moment’s notice, both in London but also at the local NHS hospital in Oxford, not far from their country home in the village of Great Tew.
As the time of the birth draws closer—and currently the best bet for royal fans is to cancel all plans for the second and third weeks of April—the same media plan as existed for Kate will be dusted off again at the Lindo Wing, where, it seems likely, an even larger media circus than that which turned out for Prince George will attend the birth of the new baby, who will be seventh in line to the throne, regardless of its gender.
The choreography of that day–the gun salutes in Hyde Park, the call to the queen, the arrival of the town crier–is by now well rehearsed, and don’t expect Meghan to look any less perfect when she emerges onto the hospital steps than Kate did.
However, we can perhaps hope with some justification that Meghan will bring a more relaxed, California attitude to her pregnancy than solidly British and middle-class Kate did–her mother is a yoga instructor after all.
Indeed, the more chilled Markle style is already on display during the tour of Australasia with the palace briefing that Meghan will visit Tonga and Fiji as scheduled, despite the fact that both territories are afflicted with the Zika virus.
It’s hard to imagine ultra-cautious and conservative Kate including those destinations on her itinerary, no matter how many assurances she was given of her safety from the mosquito-borne illness.
It will also be intriguing to see whether Meghan copies Kate’s decision to use an extended period of maternity leave to withdraw from the public eye, or simply carries on making appearances with Harry to the very last minute, and then picks up again shortly after the birth.
To judge from the alacrity with which Harry and Meghan jumped into formal royal engagements after their wedding, it seems more likely that Meghan will be showing up at events with her baby in a sling than retreating to the country for months on end.
Ultimately, of course, Meghan Markle’s pregnancy is like any other, but the Republican-minded killjoys who took to social media yesterday exclaiming with indignation, “A woman got married and now she’s having a baby, what’s so amazing?” are deliberately missing the point.
The arrival of a biracial baby is a critical inflection point for the British royal family, a wonderful next chapter in the stories of Harry and Meghan—and a fitting tribute to his ground-breaking mother.