Meghan Markle is expected to give birth to her first child any day now and has kept a full agenda throughout the earlier months of her pregnancy. With the Duchess of Sussex now expected to make the final preparations for the arrival of the royal baby at her new residence on the Windsor Estate, several royal experts have suggested Meghan will copy the Queen and resume her official engagements after six-month maternity leave. Commentator Emily Nash told Sunday Night: “Hats off to the Queen because she was doing the working motherhood thing in a very extreme way long before most of us were.
“You can hardly imagine how tough that would have been for her.”
How long Meghan chooses to take for maternity leave depends on her personal choice, as there are no set rules for royal women on maternity leave.
But the Duchess’s decision to attend royal engagements well into her pregnancy – with her last public appearance made to commemorate the dead of the New Zealand attack at New Zealand House in central London – suggest Meghan will resume her royal duties within six-months after welcoming her firstborn.
Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, took the longest maternity leave in recent years after the birth of her third child, Prince Louis. The Duchess stopped attending public engagements in March and resumed her duties five months after the birth of the Prince in April.
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The Duchess of Cambridge resumed her public role less than a month after the birth of her first son, Prince George, in 2013 and took four months off after delivering her daughter, Princess Charlotte.
But according to historian Robert Lacy, Queen Elizabeth established the record of longest leave to enjoy “her second family” when she had sons Prince Andrew and Prince Edward.
Mr Lacy in 2018 said: “Early in the 1960s, Her Majesty decided that she had done her duty by her country, and took the best part of eighteen months off work to produce and enjoy her ‘second family,’ the young princes Andrew and Edward, born in 1960 and 1964 respectively.'”
Despite the lengthy pause she took after delivering her youngest children, the Queen kept us a busy schedule after being crowned – jetting off on a six-month royal tour with husband Prince Philip and leaving her eldest children, Prince Charles and Princess Anne, back in the UK.
The Duchess of Sussex may also opt for another precedent the Queen has set if she were to go ahead with a home birth at Frogmore Cottage.
Historian Kate Williams said: “Strictly speaking, there isn’t a royal protocol. There’s been lots of coverage saying Meghan is wrong and snubbing the Queen’s doctors. We don’t know she has.
“And simply speaking, many royal women have done what they wished would happen.
“The Queen, for example, when she gave birth, she gave birth at Buckingham Palace and had a home birth – a home caesarian.”
Ms Williams said an important and historic moment in royal births was with the birth of Queen Elizabeth when the Her Majesty’s father said no to senior politicians witnessing the birth, which had been tradition up until then.
Meghan will be joined during her leave by husband Harry, who has also requested time off to settle into his new role as a father.
The couple released a statement on Thursday in which they revealed they had made the “personal decision” not to share details about their child until they have had time to “celebrate privately.”
Their household said in a statement: “The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are very grateful for the goodwill they have received from people throughout the United Kingdom and around the world as they prepare to welcome their baby.”