Meghan thought to have revived royal home birth tradition
The Duchess of Sussex is believed to have revived a royal tradition by having her baby at home.
The new royal baby, just like his grandfather the Prince of Wales and great-grandmother the Queen, is not believed to have been born in hospital.
Unlike the Duchess of Cambridge, who had all three of her children at the Lindo Wing of St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington, London, Meghan is thought to have given birth in the comfort of her newly-renovated home Frogmore Cottage on the Windsor Estate.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are keeping details of the birth private for now, but the place of birth is likely to be revealed on the birth certificate.
Royal babies were traditionally born at home, usually in royal palaces.
The Queen kept to the custom for all of her own four children, the Prince of Wales, the Duke of York and the Earl of Wessex were born at Buckingham Palace, while the Princess Royal arrived at Clarence House.
When delivering Charles, Princess Elizabeth was given an anaesthetic to help ease the pain.
A restless Duke of Edinburgh played squash with his private secretary while his wife was in labour.
He was still on the courts at the palace when he learned of his son’s arrival, after King George VI’s private secretary rushed out to announce the birth.
For the birth of his youngest child, Edward, in 1964, Philip was, for the first time, said to be in the room, holding his wife’s hand.
Philip, Baby Sussex’s great-grandfather, was born a prince of Greece and Denmark, allegedly on the kitchen table of his family home, Mon Repos, on the Greek island of Corfu, in 1921.
When the Queen, then Princess Elizabeth, arrived in the early hours of April 21 1926, she was delivered by Caesarean section at 17 Bruton Street in Mayfair, the home of her maternal grandparents.
Her mother, the Duchess of York, decided to give birth at her parents’ house after refusing to live in cold, dilapidated White Lodge in Richmond Park, which George V and Queen Mary had set aside for her as a marital base.
According to royal author Sarah Bradford, it was a “difficult birth” and “Elizabeth was a breech baby, her mother tiny and small boned”.
Just like Princess Elizabeth’s birth, Meghan may have had an operating theatre on stand-by at her home, as well as the latest birthing equipment for all eventualities.
The duchess was said to have picked her own medical team to directly oversee the arrival of her first child, rather than being led by the senior consultants who usually tend to the royal women.
Kate was cared for by Guy Thorpe-Beeston, surgeon-gynaecologist to the royal household, and Alan Farthing, the Queen’s surgeon-gynaecologist, as well as Professor Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent, now England’s first chief midwife.
She also had a team of 23 medical experts on stand-by during her hospital delivery in case of an emergency, including replacement anaesthetists and paediatricians.
Meghan may have had a water birth and hired or purchased a birth pool for use at home.
About two in 10 women giving birth in England use water or a birthing pool for coping with pain, with one in 10 delivering in the pool, according to a recent national maternity survey of more than 17,000 women by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).
Just over 2%, or one in 50 pregnant women, give birth at home in England and Wales, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has found.
Diana, Princess of Wales, actually broke with royal tradition when she had Prince William, now the Duke of Cambridge, in the exclusive Lindo Wing of St Mary’s in 1982.
He was the first future British king to be born in a hospital.
Prince Harry, now the Duke of Sussex, was also born at the Lindo.
Diana was following in the footsteps of her sister-in-law, Princess Anne, who had her two children Peter and Zara, who do not have titles, at the Lindo in 1977 and 1981.
The Duchess of Cambridge also gave birth to Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis at the private unit.
Kate and William posed for pictures on the steps outside with her newborns, just like Charles and Diana did with both their sons.
Harry and Meghan are believed to have wanted to avoid the media circus that gathered outside the Lindo in anticipation and the pressure to appear with their newborn just hours after the birth.
Royal births through the ages were previously often far from private, with witnesses present to make sure no substitute baby or changeling had been smuggled into the room.
For Princess Elizabeth’s birth in 1926, the home secretary, Sir William Joynson-Hicks, waited in the next room.
But Meghan was spared this intrusion as it has not been deemed necessary for royal babies for many years.