Britain’s Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle are expecting their second child, the couple revealed in a Valentine’s Day announcement, the first senior royal due to be born outside Britain in 100 years.
The couple released a black and white image of themselves under a tree, all smiles, with Markle holding her baby bump.
“We can confirm that Archie is going to be a big brother,” the spokesman said, referring to the couple’s son. “The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are overjoyed to be expecting their second child.”
Meghan and Harry, who is Queen Elizabeth II’s grandson, quit frontline royal duties in March last year and now live in California.
The baby will be “something of a first” for the immediate royal family because it will have US and British citizenship and is likely to be the first to be born outside of Britain since Prince Philip 100 years ago.
A Buckingham Palace spokesman said: “Her Majesty, Duke of Edinburgh, Prince of Wales and the entire family are delighted and wish them well.”
The photograph was taken by friend of the couple Misan Harriman. In a tweet addressed to Meghan, she said: “Meg, I was there at your wedding to witness this love story begin, and my friend, I am honoured to capture it grow. Congratulations to The Duke and Duchess of Sussex on this joyous news!”
– ‘Build bridges’ –
Royal commentator Victoria Murphy told AFP that the baby’s dual nationality would be “something of a first” for a senior royal, although the new arrival is not destined to become a member of the inner circle given the parents’ controversial decision to step back from frontline duties.
“I think this royal baby might not see some of his or her royal relatives for several months,” she added.
Robert Jobson, the royal editor at London’s Evening Standard, said he hoped the pregnancy would allow Meghan and Harry to “build bridges” after “a lot of negativity”.
Their departure last year — dubbed “Megxit” by the British press — was a far cry from 2018, when they married in a fairytale wedding at Windsor Castle watched around the world.
They left amid acrimony and a reported rift with Harry’s brother Prince William, who is second in line to the throne.
Since leaving, they have launched several legal cases against news outlets alleging invasion of privacy — including one that ended on Thursday with a victory against Associated Newspapers in the UK.
Pressure from tabloids has dogged Harry throughout his life, and he blames them for the death of his mother Princess Diana.
Despite the strained relationship, the tabloid press mostly welcomed the news on Monday with the Daily Mail carrying the headline “MEGnificent” and The Sun celebrating “Sussexes’ Valentine’s Day joy” on its front page.
But the Daily Star splashed “Publicity-shy woman tells 7.67bn people: ‘I’m pregnant'” on its cover, taking aim at the couple’s demands for privacy despite launching a range of commercial ventures.
– Multi-million dollar contracts –
Last year the pair launched a wide-ranging non-profit organisation, Archewell, after giving up their “Sussex Royal” brand as part of the terms of their departure from frontline monarchy duties.
They have started other creative ventures, including signing a deal with Spotify to produce podcasts that tell “uplifting and entertaining stories”.
The couple also signed a multi-year contract, reportedly worth tens of millions of dollars, with streaming giant Netflix to produce “impactful” films and series.
As well complaining about invasion of her privacy, Markle, a former television actress, has also described past trolling of her as “almost unsurvivable”.