Royal Pregnancy Traditions: Will Meghan Markle Play by the Rules?

We may be uncouth Americans, but we do know there’s such a thing as royal protocol. That said, we admit we’d likely flunk a test on royal pregnancy rules, both overt and low-key. For instance, did you know there’s no telling anyone else about a royal baby’s birth until the queen learns of the news?

We’re wondering how American Meghan Markle — now the Duchess of Sussex — is handling the high expectations surrounding her pregnancy. She’s already proven to be a hugger (a long-standing no-no for royals) when meeting people, especially children. And since Kensington Palace issued this tweet and the affectionate photos, we’re guessing there might be some leeway for the new duchess when it comes to pregnancy protocol.

We’re guessing that Meghan and Prince Harry will follow royal procedure and let Granny Elizabeth know immediately when the littlest Sussex arrives. According to the Daily Mail, Harry’s big brother, Prince William, reportedly used an encrypted phone line to let the queen know George had been born.

Baby showers get a big womp-womp in the U.K. It’s just not a usual thing. Will Meghan insist on one? We doubt it. Also, royals don’t tend to share the biological sex of their baby in advance. How terribly crude.

“Knowing the sex in advance is more American than British,” historian and royal expert Marlene Koenig, author of the Royal Musings blog, told Harper’s Bazaar. “I will be surprised if they know the sex in advance. If they find out, they will not be telling the world. I cannot think of any British or European royal announcing the sex of a child before the announcement is made.”

Royals tend to let the public in on their pregnancies when they’re 12 weeks along. That’s common in the States too, and Meghan and her partner in Sussexing seem to have followed that rule judging from her still-dainty baby bump.

But Meghan just finished her royal tour of Fiji, Tonga, New Zealand and Australia — a fairly big no-no historically when it comes to royal pregnancies. When expecting, royals tend to tamp down on international travel (according to Metro U.K.). Bold move, duchess.

We love that cleavage is a major taboo for royal women, and it’s an extra-big faux pas during pregnancy. So expect to be seeing a lot of high collars and modest coats and cover-ups from Meghan (although she did flash quite a bit of leg during her Pacific trip — oh, la la; how scandalous). Closed-toe shoes are always the rule for the royal family — even if chubby pregnant toes and ankles are driving a duchess crazy. Meghan’s way of dealing with this rule on Pacific tour? Flats and sneakers that are now trending big-time.

That first photo opportunity after a royal baby’s birth is major. And Meghan will be expected, like Kate Middleton, otherwise known as Duchess Catherine of Cambridge, to pop on out to greet adoring crowds before the baby is even a few hours old (while she’s still very sore). The Duchess of Cambridge has honored her would-be mother-in-law, Princess Diana, by wearing dresses reminiscent of the late princess after each of her children were born. And Meghan’s been spotted wearing jewelry of Princess Diana‘s, so we’re thinking she’ll also pick an ensemble with her in mind.

Can Meghan have her favorite gynecologist or obstetrician flown in? Sorry, duchess. The royals have their very own OB-GYN, Alan Farthing. He’s been overseeing all the royal births since Princess Charlotte arrived in 2015. We predict Meghan will go with the flow on this one — but we’re wondering if maybe she’ll have her mom by her side. Farthing won’t be on his own either. He’ll have a team of about 20 top birthing experts waiting on deck should he need assistance or in case of (God forbid) emergency. And we mean they are really waiting around: “We were on call for three months. You never know when you need to be called — you need to be in town and available,” anesthesiologist Johanna Bray told Town & Country.

It surely will not surprise you that this superhero birth team is sworn to complete and utter secrecy on penalty of death. OK, we’re not really sure what the penalty is, but we know it’s got to be pretty bad.

Interestingly, pregnancy-related illness is something that’s promptly made public when it comes to the royals. The poor Duchess of Cambridge suffered from a form of horrendous morning sickness known as hyperemesis gravidarum with all three of her children: George, Charlotte and Louis. So far, it’s all been smooth sailing for Meghan from what we can see. Unless she’s more private than this royal tradition dictates and is keeping those puking-her-guts-out moments to herself.

On the subject of baby names, well, let’s just say we hope Meghan doesn’t have a long scribbled list of her faves in the back of an eighth-grade notebook. Because chances are there will be no big surprises. Classics stay classic in the royal family. Do not expect a Prince Braden or a Princess Aspen. Maybe, just maybe, Meghan and Harry can get away with an older classic so old it’s cool again: Wilhelmina, perhaps. Or a fourth middle name with a little mod spark. But don’t bet on it. And the baby won’t have a true surname, interestingly. George, Charlotte and Louis are all going to school with the last name Cambridge, taken from their parents’ titles.

What about maternity leave, you may be asking. Fortunately, royal mothers do get time off from exhausting royal duties.

Kate took five months of leave recently when Prince Louis was born. We actually wouldn’t be surprised if Meghan was back to work sooner (hey, she’s American — we have no idea what to do with an unfettered five months of maternity leave).

Breast milk or formula? Barring any breastfeeding obstacles, Meghan will be expected to nurse her child. We imagine she’ll be on board with that, especially with the help of her loving mom, Doria Ragland. Only recently were nonroyal grandparents (Muggles for all intents and purposes) allowed to be part of a royal child’s life. Blessedly, this is no longer the case — although we’d recommend to Meghan that she keep her difficult father far away from the new prince or princess for sanity’s sake.

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