What Prince Harry’s and Duchess Meghan Markle’s new royal baby means to Britain
LONDON – The politicians suddenly stopped arguing about Brexit. The latest grisly stabbing of a teenager did not top the news bulletins. For a little while, the nation forgot it’s back to work Tuesday after a long, three-day weekend because of a public holiday.
The infant boy who was born here Monday to Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan of Sussex, still without a name and seventh in line to the throne, has been dubbed “the American royal baby.” The Queen’s eighth great-grandchild weighed 7lbs., 3oz.
The baby is eligible for dual British and American citizenship.
A longstanding stereotype of the British is they don’t do emotion too well. Stiff upper lip and all that. Still, a clearly elated Prince Harry emerged from the Frogmore cottage home he shares with Meghan Markle to say that he was “thrilled” his new son was “absolutely to-die-for” and that both mother and baby were doing “incredibly well.” ADVERTISEMENT
Prince Harry added he was “so incredibly proud of my wife.”
But the chief meaning of royal births, weddings and important monarchy-related anniversaries for the British usually come down to one thing: It offers a chance for unity in hard times. And so it was for the latest addition to Britain’s obsessed-over royal family.
“It’s feels like something positive for once,” said Londoner Mark Jones, 28.
It’s a boy!: Harry and Meghan’s royal baby boy: How his birth breaks with traditions
Town crier Tony Appleton announces the birth of baby boy to Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan Duchess of Sussex, outside Windsor Castle, in Windsor, Britain, on May 6, 2019. (Photo: WILL OLIVER, EPA-EFE)
Officials, cabinet ministers and members of the public have been at each others’ throats for months over Britain’s stalled efforts to leave the European Union, among other things. On Monday, they all rushed in to offer their congratulations to the couple.
“Wishing you all the best at this happy time,” Prime Minister Theresa May tweeted. Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the opposition Labour Party, and May’s arch rival, said he “hoped they’re all doing well.” Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s leader, who appears to be pushing for another independence vote if Brexit goes ahead, wrote on Twitter that the “birth of a baby is a joyful occasion – congratulations to Harry and Meghan.”
Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the most senior bishop in the Church of England, said: “May God Bless the new family with love, health and happiness.”
There was a familiar voice from across the pond, too.
“Congratulations, Meghan and Harry! Barack and I are so thrilled for both of you and can’t wait to meet him. #RoyalBaby,” former First Lady Michelle Obama wrote on Twitter.
As is traditional when a new member of the royal family is born, a framed “notice of birth” was placed on an ornate easel made of gold outside Buckingham Palace, the Queen’s main official residence and the monarchy’s effective headquarters.
“The Queen and the Royal Family are delighted at the news that Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Sussex was safely delivered of a son at 05:26 a.m.,” the statement placed on the easel read. “Her Royal Highness and her child are both doing well.”
Just like when Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis were born, the traditional framed bulletin was brought out of Buckingham Palace’s Privy Purse Door and carried across the forecourt, where it was gazed at by a few thousand onlookers.
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As it was set down hundreds of camera phones were raised in the air and about a dozen half-hearted claps could be heard but they petered out pretty quickly. Although that did not deter curious well-wishers and passers-by who pulled up on self-service rental bikes, pushing strollers and in large groups of school kids or on guided tours for a quick peek.
“It’s so great to be here at this amazing time for their family,” said Maria Alvizo, 38, a nurse who was visiting London from Spain. “It’s such an exciting time for them.”
John Walsh, 50, who works in finance, said he hoped that the new royal baby “makes our country great again,” a reference to President Donald Trump’s political slogan.
Others were engaged in conversations about the merits of marrying into a royal family and whether the Queen would make an appearance. (She did not.)
About 20 miles away, in Windsor, where Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan were married in May last year, and where crowds of royal watchers have been gathering in anticipation of the new baby since last week, John Loughrey was drinking champagne as an unofficial town crier announced the royal birth by saying, “Well done Meghan!”
Tony Appleton, the town crier, added: “God bless America, and God save the Queen.”
Loughrey, 64, is a self-described royal family “super-fan.”
He said he was a little bit disappointed that Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan decided not to follow Prince William and Kate, Duchess of Cambridge in giving birth at the Lindo Wing of St. Mary’s Hospital in central London. Duchess Meghan is rumored to have had a home birth at Frogmore cottage. The couple have not officially confirmed it.
More details about the baby, and birth, are expected in the next few days.
“It’s been totally different this time,” Loughrey said, reached by phone.
“We respect it. Of course we do. But it’s the build-up that’s the most interesting thing about this, all the lovely anticipation for the birth, you can’t beat that,” he said.
Loughrey said he was wearing shoes with the American flag on them and would be celebrating – in addition to champagne – with fish and chips followed by apple pie.