Meghan’s busy pregnancy in the months leading up to the birth
The Duchess of Sussex had a busy pregnancy in what was her first year as a member of the royal family.
American actress Meghan, 37, fell pregnant around two months after marrying the Duke of Sussex in a historic royal wedding in Windsor Castle’s St George’s Chapel.
Kensington Palace confirmed the news in October, saying a delighted Harry and Meghan would be welcoming their first child in the spring.
The duchess appears to have had a healthy, straightforward pregnancy.
Whereas the Duchess of Cambridge suffered from severe morning sickness with all three of her children, Meghan was out and about in the early days.
News that the former Suits star was expecting a baby came as the duke and duchess began their first long-haul overseas tour.
The busy 16-day trip to Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Tonga featured some 76 engagements.
In the drought-affected city of Dubbo, the duchess told farmer Emily Carroll that she was “feeling pretty good so far” and “running on adrenaline”.
But she did pull out of an arranged meeting with Invictus Games competitors after a late night at the opening ceremony in Sydney on October 21 when the event overran by two hours.
Harry urged his wife to pace herself during the marathon trip and the mother-to-be opted to rest.
A royal source said at the time that she was “not sick, just tired” and was keen to take part in everything.
They added: “We have to try to pace her. We have to make sure she is well paced and not overdoing it.
“She had a very late night last night.
“She wants to do everything, but Prince Harry is encouraging her to pace herself.”
Precautions were taken in Tonga because of the Zika virus, which can be contracted through mosquito bites.
The original plan was for the duke and duchess to walk through the Tuloa forest together, but in the end only Harry did.
On a visit to the Royal Variety care home in Twickenham on December 18 to meet retired actors, directors and entertainers, Meghan revealed she was “feeling very pregnant”.
Speculation grew that the baby was due soon when Meghan told well-wishers on Christmas Day: “We are excited. We’re nearly there.”
And in the Queen’s Christmas message, the monarch said of the baby that it was “expected soon”.
Harry, who dubbed the baby “our little bump”, and Meghan are set to raise their child in Frogmore Cottage on the Windsor Estate, a decision which prompted rumours of a rift between Meghan and Kate.
But on Christmas Day, the two duchesses were all smiles together as they walked to church.
Kate told members of the public at Leicester University that she was looking forward to Harry and Meghan’s baby, saying: “It’s such a special time to have more kiddies”, and added that it would be lovely for her children to have a new cousin.
Meghan has been physically fit during her pregnancy, but there has been emotional heartache.
Her estranged father Thomas Markle, who missed his daughter’s wedding after ill health and being caught staging paparazzi photographs, gave interviews saying he was being “shunned” by Meghan, and that she had not spoken to him for months and was not replying to his daily text messages.
Unnamed close friends of Meghan eventually challenged the reports, telling the US magazine People: “He’s never called; he’s never texted. It’s super-painful.”
Five of her confidantes also spoke out in an effort to counter the “global bullying” directed at her.
Mr Markle denied the claims and went on to release a deeply personal letter his daughter wrote to him following her wedding.
With it growing increasingly unlikely the royal infant will meet his or her maternal grandfather, the baby boy or girl has already been embraced by one west London community as part of their family.
Cooks at a Hubb Community Kitchen, which Meghan visited as part of her support of the Grenfell cookbook, lovingly told the duchess her baby would be considered their “grandchild”.
The duchess has kept busy in the months leading up to the birth, and pressed on with her plan to hit the ground running in her new life as a royal by announcing her first four patronages.
In January, Meghan became patron of the National Theatre, the Association of Commonwealth Universities, animal welfare organisation Mayhew and Smart Works which provides high-quality interview clothes and training for unemployed women in need.
On a visit to Smart Works in north Kensington, London, she championed the power of women supporting each other, adding: “It’s not just about donating your clothes and seeing where they land – but really being part of each other’s success stories as women.”
A few days later, six-months-pregnant Meghan told well-wishers on a day trip to Birkenhead in January that her due date was the end of April or the beginning of May.
There had been speculation the duchess might give birth in March because of her sizeable bump.
Meghan also told nine-year-old Kitty Dudley that she did not know whether she was having a girl or a boy when quizzed about baby names.
The duchess became known for cradling her bump frequently during public appearances.
There were outings to Meghan’s other new patronages, with the duchess cuddling Minnie the dog at Mayhew, and visiting the National Theatre and the Association of Commonwealth Universities.
An away day to Bristol amid wintry snow storms saw Meghan and Harry tour the Bristol Old Vic theatre.
And at the charity One25, the duchess came up with the idea to write personal messages of love and empowerment for street sex workers in Bristol to find on bananas in food parcels when they access night outreach support.
Meghan has also been out and about at glamorous evening galas, including the premiere of Cirque du Soleil’s Totem at the Royal Albert Hall, and a special screening of The Wider Earth at the Natural History Museum.
Harry joked “There’s a heavy baby in there” at a reception for the Endeavour Fund Awards when Meghan was seven months pregnant.
Celebrations ahead of the birth included a solo trip to New York City where the American former actress caught up with friends including stylist Jessica Mulroney, and attended an exclusive baby shower, with the private jet journey and penthouse suite, reportedly funded by friends, said to have cost some £300,000.
The heavily pregnant royal also carried out an official overseas tour in her third trimester, when she and Harry travelled to Morocco at the request of the British Government.
In early March, the duchess joined the Queen and other royals at a special reception in Buckingham Palace to mark 50 years since the Prince of Wales was invested with his title.
She also made a surprise appearance on stage with Harry at the WE Day UK event in London, and carried out a solo engagement on International Women’s Day (IWD).
The duchess revealed she does not read newspapers or engage with Twitter to avoid getting “muddled” by the “noise”, whether positive or negative, as she joined a star-studded panel of feminists and national figures on IWD.
On Commonwealth Day on March 11, Meghan and Harry met young Canadians at Canada House, and were given a baby bodysuit and pair of tiny moccasins.
They went on to gather with the royals at the annual Commonwealth Day service in Westminster Abbey.
This was due to be Meghan’s last official public appearance before the baby was due, although she continued to hold private meetings behind the scenes.
But the duchess carried out an additional engagement in the wake of the Christchurch mosque terror attacks in New Zealand, when she signed a book of condolence in London with Harry on March 19.
She was spotted making a private trip with the duke to the holistic spa Ilapothecary near Kensington Palace on March 29.
The couple set up their own Instagram account @SussexRoyal, part of splitting their household from William and Kate’s, on April 2, posting a message saying it would be used to share “important announcements”.
Then on April 4 came the news that Harry and Meghan had finally moved in to their new home in Windsor, Frogmore Cottage, after building work was completed ahead of the arrival of their baby.