- Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are expecting a baby in April.
- With a new royal baby comes a whole new set of rules and traditions that the couple are expected to follow.
- INSIDER spoke to royal etiquette expert Grant Harrold about the protocol the soon-to-be-parents will be expected to abide by, from choosing godparents to asking the Queen’s permission to travel with the baby.
The arrival of a new royal baby is nearly upon us, as Meghan Markle is expected to give birth in April.
In traditional royal fashion, there are many strict rules that Harry and Markle will be expected to follow upon the arrival of their baby.
Grant Harrold, royal expert and director at the Royal School of Etiquette, spoke to INSIDER about the correct protocol and traditions that the soon-to-be-parents will likely abide by when their baby is born.
1. The baby should have at least three names
It’s unlikely the name will be announced right away, as we had to wait two days to find out when each of Kate Middleton and Prince William’s children were born.
However, when the name is revealed, there should be at least three.
“Harry and Meghan’s baby could have up to four names. Three names are typical for those in line for the throne, so that they have another name to choose from if they were to become King or Queen,” Harrold explained.
“Everyone thinks that when Prince Charles becomes king, he will automatically be King Charles. But this may not be the case. Instead, he could choose to become King George VIII, as George is in his name. This happened with King George VI, whose previous title was Prince Albert.”
This is a tradition that Prince William and Kate Middleton followed with the naming of their children, as all three of them were given three names. Prince George’s full name is George Alexander Louis, while Princess Charlotte is Charlotte Elizabeth Diana, and Louis is Louis Arthur Charles.
2. The child won’t be given the title of prince or princess – unless they are given special permission by the Queen
According to Harrold, the new royal baby should traditionally be given the title of either Earl or a Lady.
However, the Queen could make an exception for Prince Harry’s child, as she did previously for all of Prince William’s children.In December 2012, Her Majesty issued new Letters Patent, which declared that all of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s would hold the title of HRH and would be styled as princes and princesses.
We’ll have to wait and see whether the same titles will be given to Harry and Markle’s children.
3. The baby will likely have many godparents
“Most people would typically only have two godparents, but the royal baby could have between five and seven godparents,” said Harrold.
Again, if the new generation of royals is anything to go by, it seems this tradition is taken very seriously. Princess Charlotte has five godparents, while Prince Louis has six, and Prince George has seven.
There has been major speculation as to who will be considered for the role, with rumours circulating that Markle and Harry’s close friends George and Amal Clooney could be in the running.
Clooney later denied the claims, however, saying: ”I have enough s— to deal with.'”
4. Markle is expected to pose for pictures outside the hospital just hours after giving birth
While it’s likely the Queen will be first to find out the baby has been born, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are then expected to follow Prince William and Kate Middleton’s lead by posing for a photocall with photographers after the birth.
This is a fairly new tradition, which was started by Princess Diana and Prince Charles after the births of Harry and William. Before this, home births were standard tradition among royals.
It’s understood that Middleton’s personal hairstylist was even on hand after the birth of Princess Charlotte to help her get photo-ready.
5. The baby will be christened with holy water from the River Jordan
The baby’s christening will be performed a few weeks later by the head of the Church of England.
According to Harrold, every royal baby is christened with water from the River Jordan, where it is said Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist.
6. The new royal will wear a traditional christening gown
Harry and Meghan’s baby will also be expected to wear the traditional royal christening gown.
Despite popular belief, this is not the same robe that was made in 1841 for Queen Victoria’s children. The original, made by Janet Sutherland, was worn by 62 royal babies.
A replica gown was made in 2004, and was most recently worn by Prince William and Middleton’s children during their christenings.
7. Harry and Meghan might not be able to travel with their new baby unless granted permission by the Queen
“Royal protocol is that two heirs should never fly on the same flight together so that the royal lineage is protected,” said Harrold. “And, despite there being no official rule in place, heirs must still seek permission from Queen Elizabeth, who has the final say on the matter.”
This isn’t to say this never happens. After all, Princess Diana and Prince Charles took Prince William on tour across New Zealand with them when he was just nine months old.
William later followed in his parents’ footsteps, taking a young Prince George on tour with himself and Middleton across New Zealand in 2014.
It is unknown how seriously this tradition is taken for those further down in the line of succession. Harry and Markle’s child will be seventh in line to the throne, so it is possible that they may not have to follow this rule as strictly as the others.
8. Members of the public won’t be allowed to touch the royal baby
While this is less applicable to the royal couple and more for everyone else, the first rule of royal etiquette is never to touch a member of the royal family. The same rule applies to royal babies, according to Harrold.
“Royal babies should be looked at, but never touched. The public must be respectful,” he explained.
“As well as an etiquette rule, it poses a major security risk if someone is able to get so close that they are able to touch members of the Royal Family.”
Of course, we don’t know how strict Prince Harry and Markle will be when applying this rule to their baby, as they have both broken this no-public-contact rule in the past.
The pair are often seen hugging members of the public, particularly children, during walkabouts and royal engagements.
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