Meghan Markle broke 3 royal pregnancy rules – here are 9 traditions and protocols all British royal parents should follow, from skipping baby showers and travel to keeping the baby’s sex a secret

Britain’s Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, accompanied by Meghan’s mother Doria Ragland, showing their newborn baby son, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor to Britain’s Queen Elizabeth and Britain’s Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, at Windsor Castle in May 2019. Photo: AFP

There’s so much mystery and curiosity around the British royal family that every little detail grabs the attention of the masses. From the time they led an empire on which the “sun never set” to today when they continue to represent Britain on the world stage, there is no denying the world’s curiosity for this most unfathomable family.

In fact, even in pregnancy – a deeply personal experience – royal women have had been under scrutiny for a variety of reasons. And that’s exactly why it’s not easy living that life. Sure it has perks, but it also comes with restrictions that you need to adhere to and traditions that you need to uphold – or not, in the extreme case of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry.
The official christening photograph with Prince Harry and Meghan, Duke and Duchess of Sussex, with their son Archie, and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, Doria Ragland, Lady Jane Fellowes, Lady Sarah McCorquodale, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, in the Green Drawing Room at Windsor Castle in July 2019. Photo: EPA-EFE

Not an easy cup of tea, we’d imagine. 

To ease your curiosity, we’ve compiled a list of 9 royal baby traditions and protocols that are actually a thing. 

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The queen gets to know about the pregnancy first

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth smiles as she attends day three of the Royal Ascot horse racing meet, in Ascot, west of London, in June 2019. Photo: AFP

According to tradition, the queen is always the first to know about who’s joining the royal family by virtue of birth. While it’s not an overt rule, the queen is the family matriarch and gets to know first about a pregnancy or birth.

The royal family keep the baby’s sex a secret

The royal family assemble in all their finery. Photo: AFP

While determining the sex of a child in advance is normal for parents in Britain, the royal family chooses to keep the gender a secret. Even if they know about the sex, it is not disclosed to the public.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle sit for an interview with Oprah Winfrey in March. Photo: TNS
That being said, there have been times when the family broke this unsaid norm. Earlier this year, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, announced they were expecting a baby girl during an interview with Oprah Winfrey.
To be fair, they had already announced that they would step down as senior members of the royal family.

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No baby showers


The baby shower is an American concept that is less popular in the UK. Not having baby showers is more of a cultural difference and nothing to do with being a royal, but that’s still the reason why the royal family doesn’t host them.

Although Markle again broke tradition here, attending one in New York in honour of their firstborn.

Limited travel during pregnancy

Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, visits the Natural History Museum in London in February 2019. Photo: Reuters

UK tabloids state that the royal family discourages pregnant women in the family from travelling during this period. However, it’s not completely barred.

Markle was once again the exception when she made multiple official royal visits to Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Tonga and Morocco while pregnant.

Royals usually announce pregnancies after 12 weeks

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, and Britain’s Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, leaving Westminster Abbey in London, Britain, after their wedding ceremony. Photo: EPA

The royal family usually announces pregnancies to the public after the 12-week mark. The only time an exception was made in recent years was when Kate Middleton was pregnant with Prince Louis, and decided to make the announcement earlier because she was suffering from morning sickness.

The royal family announces pregnancy health issues 

Speaking of which, the royal family is OK with making pregnancy-related health issues known to the public, and not just by verbal confirmation. The official royal website posted a detailed release explaining Kate’s health issues during pregnancy. 

A royal specialist delivers royal babies

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, standing with Princess Beatrice and real estate developer Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi outside the Royal Chapel of All Saints in Windsor, in July 2020. Photo: Handout

The royal palace has its own official gynaecologist who oversees the royal births. At present, Alan Farthing is the surgeon-gynaecologist to the royal household and has been overseeing royal births since Princess Charlotte was born in 2015.

Previously, Marcus Setchell was the official gynaecologist and postponed his retirement until 2013 to deliver Prince George.

There are midwives on call for royal pregnancies

A royal birthing plan comprises about 20 experts including obstetricians, anaesthetists, paediatricians, laboratory technicians and even midwives who are on call for three months.

The entire birthing team is sworn to secrecy

Britain’s Prince Harry recently became a dad for the second time. Photo: AFP

Not coming as a surprise, the entire birthing team need to remain extremely private about the process and cannot divulge any details to the press or the public. 

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  • Did Markle tell Queen Elizabeth about her pregnancy first? The duchess broke three other protocols, including revealing Lilibet Diana’s sex to Oprah Winfrey
  • The royal family made an exception by announcing Kate Middleton’s pregnancy with Prince Louis earlier than the 12-week mark due to her morning sickness