7 May 2019

UK: Follow-up to the birth of Baby Sussex – place of birth etc.

I thought I should write a short follow-up to yesterday's article, in which I commented on the birth of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's baby boy. I mentioned among others that the birth announcement didn't explicitly state where the birth took place and added that «is quite possible that the Duchess delivered the baby at home at Frogmore Cottage as the media has speculated about for quite some time». However, The Daily Mail claimed yesterday evening that the allegedly planned home birth was called off and that the Duchess of Sussex was transported to a private hospital in London, possibly The Portland Hospital, on Sunday night and where she gave birth early on Monday morning. No named source was stated and both Buckingham Palace and the hospital have denied to comment. As the Duchess allegedly was one week overdue, the decision to send her to a hospital is more than likely, but for now we will not know for sure.

The timing of the press releases yesterday – several hours after the birth had taken place – can easily be explained by the ducal couple's wish for privacy. They wanted to travel to the hospital and then return home again unnoticed. Their wish is of course easy to understand, considering what the British media is capable of. A car chase from Windsor to Great Portland Street in London would certainly not be a dream scenario for the parents to be. The ducal couple got it the way it wanted. However, it would have made more sense – and it would have been more professional – if the information department had dropped the first statement about the duchess being in labour.

Returning to the question about the place of birth – the operational note of 11 April said that «Their Royal Highnesses have taken a personal decision to keep the plans around the arrival of their baby private.» I interpreted the note as saying that the couple wished to keep the birth plans private prior to the birth, but not after, but obviously I was wrong. As many have pointed out, the notice of the birth which was displayed outside Buckingham Palace yesterday didn't include the names of the medical personnel assisting the birth, as has been the tradition in the past. Had the names been included, the place of birth would of course have been revealed.

The place of birth is of course of historic and genealogical interest. Richard Palmer, royal correspondent of The Daily Express, tweeted yesterday evening that «Palace officials are still refusing to say where Meghan gave birth amid conflicting reports that it was at Frogmore Cottage or in a private hospital. But they acknowledge they will have to reveal the place of birth on the birth certificate within 42 days.»

As the tweet says, the information department knows that the birth certificate will be public knowledge in due time. One reason for keeping the place of birth a secret for the time being could be to protect the privacy of the medical personnel and the doula (i.e. the possible doula for what was allegedly planned to be a home birth). In 40 days the media's interest might have dropped a bit. There is of course nothing wrong with a discussion about home birth versus the use of a maternity hospital, but the media pressure is of course something the royal family, the court and medical team wanted to avoid.

As already pointed out, the birth certificate will be made public some time next month. The historians and genealogists just have to wait in patience.

A photo call will take place either Wednesday or Thursday. We will then learn to know the names of the Sussex baby and how he is to be styled. Now, as already pointed out, traditionally the eldest son of a duke will by courtesy use the second (lesser grade) title, so I would be surprised if the baby boy will be not be known as Earl of Dumbarton. Some observers have suggested, however, that it is possible he will «only» be known as Lord X Mountbatten-Windsor (or something else). I guess other scenaries shouldn't be ruled out completely, but as of now I believe that Buckingham Palace will stick to tradition.

Updated on Wednesday 8 May 2019 at 20:45 (the sentence concerning the possible use of a doula in the third last paragraph was made more precise) and at 21:40 (orthographic mistake corrected).

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