Meghan’s hopes of a home birth were dashed when she was taken to hospital on Sunday by Harry and their Scotland Yard security team.
The Mail understands that the Duchess of Sussex – who was a week overdue – was whisked off amid such secrecy that even senior royals weren’t told.
It is understood she was taken to a London hospital – most likely the Portland – where even a ‘basic’ delivery costs upwards of £15,000. Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie were delivered there.
It is not known whether Meghan, 37, was induced but sources say she remained there overnight before her baby was born at 5.26am on Monday morning, with an elated Prince Harry at her side.
Buckingham Palace declined to comment but sources confirmed to the Mail that a hospital delivery had taken place.
In a break with tradition, the Sussexes announced last month that they wanted to keep details surrounding the birth of their first child private.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, by contrast, had faced a mass photocall at the private Lindo Wing of St Mary’s Hospital, Paddington hours after all three of their children were born.
Meghan is said to have considered the idea of posing for pictures and well-wishers straight after the birth as archaic.
In a statement at the time, Buckingham Palace said: ‘Their Royal Highnesses have taken a personal decision to keep the plans around the arrival of their baby private. The Duke and Duchess look forward to sharing the exciting news with everyone once they have had an opportunity to celebrate privately as a new family.’
The Mail also revealed last month how Meghan planned to have a home birth, although sources acknowledged that she was willing to go hospital if that was what was best for the baby.
Both she and Harry had studied hypnobirthing techniques and were hopeful of having an all-female midwife-led delivery in the privacy of their own home at Frogmore Cottage on the Windsor Estate. But as the week dragged on, it began to look increasingly unlikely it would be possible.
Indeed, experts had long warned that as a first-time mother and one who at 37 is classed in medical terms as ‘geriatric’, there would be a strong chance that the duchess would require some sort of medical intervention.
Peter Bowen-Simpkins, a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist, said there are many reasons why a home birth may not have gone to plan for the Duchess.
He said: ‘When you have your first baby you essentially have an ‘untried pelvis’. You don’t know what’s going to happen when the body prepares for labour and birth.
‘If a woman is on her second or subsequent baby and has had a normal delivery before then it’s likely there wouldn’t be any problem at all. But you don’t know that’s going to be the case until you have your first baby.’
A study in 2011 showed that the transfer rate from home into hospital was 45 per cent for first time mothers and ten per cent for women in subsequent pregnancies.
And that is indeed what happened on Sunday afternoon when Meghan was secretly driven out of Frogmore with Harry and, it is believed, her mother Doria, who has been studying in the US with a doula and birthing expert.
Buckingham Palace did not announce that Meghan had gone into labour until several hours after the baby had actually been born yesterday – at 1.49pm.
Less than an hour later – at 2.40pm – a second statement was put out announcing that the couple were delighted to welcome a son.
Although the Palace had assured that when the news was disseminated it would including the baby’s sex, weight and place of birth, the final – crucial – detail was missing. Aides refused to disclose any more details.
At 4.45pm the traditional easel was finally erected at Buckingham Palace.
Gill Walton, chief executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Midwives, later issued a statement suggesting that midwives were still involved, saying: ‘We wish them the best of health and happiness in the future. I would also offer our thanks to the midwives and other health professionals who have supported the Duchess and her family through her pregnancy and who will support her after the birth.’
Full details should be included on the baby’s birth certificate, which is likely to be completed by the Sussexes in the next few days.
Announcing the happy news on Monday, Prince Harry could not hide his joy as he spoke of his ‘amazing’ baby son.
A picture of pride, the prince said the newborn was ‘absolutely to die for’ and he and wife Meghan were ‘absolutely thrilled’.
A palace aide told the Mail that William and Kate were itching to see their new nephew, saying ‘they are overjoyed and look forward to meeting the latest addition to the family’.
Within hours of the dawn birth, the couple were back at Frogmore where Harry, 34, gave an impromptu press conference to break the news to the world.
He confessed he had snatched only a couple of hours of sleep, adding with a broad grin: ‘This little thing is absolutely to die for, so I’m over the moon.’
Baby Sussex, as the new arrival has been dubbed until he is formally given a name, is the Queen’s eighth great grandchild and seventh in line to the throne.
He is also the first mixed race baby to be born to a senior royal.
As the Queen and other senior royals expressed their delight:
- Harry used the palace’s formal announcement to pay a touching tribute to his late mother, Princess Diana, by including her surviving family in the message – they were also among the first to know;
- Meghan’s mother, Doria Ragland, was by her side as the new family enjoyed their first, precious few hours together at Windsor;
- The duchess’s estranged father Thomas Markle learnt the news through the media but, in a conciliatory statement, told of his pride;
- It emerged that the newest addition to the Windsor dynasty may not be given a royal title;
- Baby Sussex will be the first senior royal to have the right to dual UK-US citizenship;
- Harry said the baby was a few days overdue and he and Meghan had spent that extra time discussing possible names;
- Although tradition was maintained by Buckingham Palace erecting an easel containing details of the birth, Harry and Meghan put their official announcement out first on Instagram;
- Michelle Obama led the global tributes – in another a signal of the couple’s wide appeal and their son’s American heritage.
Standing in the Queen’s stables at Windsor Castle on Monday lunchtime, the casually dressed prince, who had once despaired of finding lasting love, let alone of becoming a father, radiated an infectious excitement, laughing and smiling as he paid tribute to his wife.
‘I’m very excited to announce that Meghan and myself had a baby boy earlier this morning, a very healthy boy,’ he said.
‘Mother and baby are doing incredibly well. It’s been the most amazing experience I could ever have possibly imagined.
‘How any woman does what they do is beyond comprehension but we’re both absolutely thrilled and so grateful to all the love and support from everybody out there. It’s been amazing so we just wanted to share this with everybody.’
He confirmed he had been at his wife’s side during the birth and was clearly moved by the experience.
‘I haven’t been at many births, this is definitely my first,’ he joked. ‘It was amazing, absolutely incredible and, as I said, I’m so incredibly proud of my wife. As every father and parent will ever say, you know, your baby is absolutely amazing, but this little thing is absolutely to die for – so I’m just over the moon.
He said he and his wife were still thinking about names: ‘The baby is a little bit overdue so we’ve had a little bit of time to think about it. That’s the next bit.’
At around the same time, Buckingham Palace said in a statement: ‘Her Royal Highness, the Duchess of Sussex, was safely delivered of a son at 0526hrs. The baby weighs 7lb 3oz. The Duke of Sussex was present for the birth.
‘The Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Lady Jane Fellowes, Lady Sarah McCorquodale and Earl Spencer have been informed and are delighted with the news.
‘The Duchess’s mother, Doria Ragland, who is overjoyed by the arrival of her first grandchild, is with their royal highnesses at Frogmore Cottage. Her royal highness and her child are both doing well.’
Harry and Meghan also thanked the public for their ‘support and kindness during this exceptionally joyful time in their lives’ on their Instagram site.
Michelle Obama, the former first lady, tweeted: ‘Congratulations, Meghan and Harry! Barack and I are so thrilled for both of you and can’t wait to meet him.’
The newborn is by no means sure to receive a title, nor will he be a prince. George V limited the use of the title ‘His Royal Highness’ in 1917, although Harry’s son could theoretically be made prince when Charles becomes king, as the child of a son of a sovereign.
If the couple do decide to allow him to use a courtesy title, it will most likely be that of the Earl of Dumbarton, one of Harry’s lesser honours. The prince was granted this title by the Queen on the morning of his wedding last year.
Sources have suggested the couple may choose to reject any kind of title though, effectively making their son a private citizen.
Thomas Markle sent a gracious message to Harry and Meghan yesterday – despite his daughter not informing him of the birth.
Mr Markle only learned about his new grandson from a friend who had heard the news on television.
But despite the royal snub, the 74-year-old declared: ‘I am delighted to hear that mother and child are doing well.
‘I am proud that my new grandson is born into the British Royal Family and I am sure that he will grow up to serve the Crown and the people of Britain with grace, dignity, and honour.
‘God bless the child and I wish him health and happiness, and my congratulations to my lovely daughter, Duchess Meghan, and Prince Harry, and God save the Queen.’
However, last night a friend said: ‘I think it is fair to say he is not expecting them to name the boy Thomas.’
Although Meghan’s mother, Doria Ragland, was with her daughter for the birth, Mr Markle was ignored by the royals.
He heard the news at around the same time as the rest of the world, when it broke at 1.50pm yesterday. It was 5.50am in Mexico, where Mr Markle lives in a retirement home in the coastal town of Rosarito.
Friends sent him text messages after TV news channels began reporting that the duchess had gone into labour. In fact, she had already given birth to her son eight and a half hours earlier, at 5.26am UK time.
A statement from Kensington Palace later revealed that six members of the Royal Family and three members of Princess Diana’s Spencer family had been officially ‘informed and are delighted’.
It added that Doria Ragland was ‘overjoyed at the arrival of her first grandchild’ and was ‘with Their Royal Highnesses at Frogmore Cottage’. Mention of Meghan’s father was conspicuously absent.
Last night a friend of Mr Markle said: ‘He got the news from me sending him a text message, which was when the news broke on every news channel. He did not hear it direct from Meghan, Doria or the palace and he is hurt at not being part of this like Doria has been.
‘But he is trying to rebuild his relationship with his daughter, and he wanted to send a very positive statement as soon as the birth was announced. He wrote it in advance, and wrote ‘child’ in his pre-prepared statement because he did not know the gender, and then he just added in the word ‘grandson’ once he knew. He basically wanted to send the message that he is just really, really happy for them.’ But there is a question mark over whether Mr Markle will ever meet his new grandson.
The ex-Hollywood lighting director has not seen his daughter since before her wedding last May. He missed the occasion after suffering a heart attack.
He had earlier upset Meghan after he staged paparazzi photographs. Their relationship soured further when he released a letter Meghan wrote to him exposing her despair over their rift.
Meghan would be ‘nothing’ without him, he declared in a follow-up interview, before he added: ‘I made her the duchess she is today. Everything Meghan is, I made her.’
Moaning that he had been ignored by the Royal Family, he then proclaimed: ‘Perhaps it would be easier for Meghan if I died.’ Mr Markle then claimed that when Harry phoned him after his heart attack, the Prince had been ‘so rude’ to him about the interviews, that he was ‘forced’ to put the phone down.
Meghan was said to be so upset by her estranged father’s repeated attacks in the media, that she wrote to him begging him to stop ‘victimising’ her.
In January, five ‘unnamed friends’ of the duchess told People magazine that Meghan had written to her father. They claimed she had said: ‘Dad, I’m so heartbroken. I love you. I have one father. Please stop victimising me through the media so we can repair our relationship.’
The friends then claimed Mr Markle responded with a long letter of his own – in which he asked his daughter for a photoshoot.’I think she will always feel genuinely devastated by what he has done,’ they told the US magazine. The group of anonymous friends also voiced their concerns over his public rants about her. ‘We worry about what this is doing to her and the baby,’ they said.
‘It’s wrong to put anyone under this level of emotional trauma, let alone when they’re pregnant.’
Months earlier, Mr Markle criticised Meghan for refusing to speak to him, while hitting out at his daughter for her ‘sense of superiority’. However, Meghan’s friends insisted that Mr Markle knew how to reach his daughter.
‘He knows how to get in touch with her,’ added one friend, saying that Meghan’s phone number had stayed the same. ‘He’s never called, he’s never texted. It’s super painful because Meg was always so dutiful. And at the same time, because she’s a daughter, she has a lot of sympathy for him.’
Harry and Meghan’s son is Mr Markle’s sixth grandchild.
His other daughter, Samantha, 54, of Virginia, is mother to Ashleigh, 33, a lawyer, Chris, 31, a pilot, and Noel, 21, a sociology student.
Mr Markle’s eldest son, Thomas Jr, 52, is father to Tyler, 26, who recently appeared on the MTV reality show The Royal World and makes his living as a marijuana farmer in Oregon.
His other son, Thomas III, 27, lives in Mammoth Lakes, California, with his husband and runs a branch of Domino’s Pizza.
SOURCE: Daily Mail, Rebecca English