How Will Meghan Markle's Maternity Leave Compare with Queen Elizabeth's?
With the arrival of Harry and Meghan’s baby now just around the corner, it's no surprise that there is a keen interest in how the Duke and Duchess of Sussex plan their lives when their son or daughter arrives.
And while we don't yet know many details (that's by design), we can look back at Meghan's royal predecessors. Traditionally, it's been royal mothers who have stayed at home with their newborns for longer, while fathers often went back to duties within days or weeks of the birth. However, with many dads in the U.K. now choosing to take off more than the traditional two weeks, Harry and Meghan could choose to follow something closer to this model.
While royals don’t have jobs quite like the rest of us and can create their own "maternity" and "paternity" schedules, they do still face the same juggle if they want to continue with their duties and spend time with their family.
Here’s a look at how recent royal mothers have managed their "maternity" leave:
Then-Princess Elizabeth with Prince Philip and their two children, Charles and Anne, in 1951.
When Prince Charles was born on November 14, 1948, Princess Elizabeth was not yet queen, and therefore did not have the full working schedule of a monarch. She enjoyed several weeks with her young son, although she did carry out a handful of royal duties including meeting ballerina Moira Shearer at the Usher Hall in Edinburgh on March 1, 1949, four and a half months after Charles's birth. She also visited Liverpool and Manchester the same month. Additionally, Elizabeth flew to Malta in November that year to spend time with Philip, who was stationed in the country with the Royal Navy. During that trip, she left Charles with his nannies.
A month after Anne was born on August 15, 1950, Elizabeth was photographed with her children taking a train to Balmoral, Scotland. She had her first official engagement following Anne's birth, a visit to the Royal College of Music, on October 19, 1950. In November of that year, Elizabeth returned to Malta.
She became Queen on February 6 1952, when Charles was three and Anne was just one. In a sign that duty had to come first, Elizabeth and Philip left their children from November 1953 to May 1954 when they took a tour of the Commonwealth.
Once her two younger sons, Princes Andrew and Edward, arrived a decade later, on February 19, 1960 and March 10, 1964 respectively, the Queen was well-established in her role as head of state. She hosted French President Charles de Gaulle on a State Visit in April of 1960, just two months after Andrew was born. A similar time frame applied after Edward’s birth, in which she hosted the State Visit of president of Sudan General Ibrahim Abboud starting on May 26, 1964.
Queen Elizabeth with her daughter, Princess Anne and grandson, Peter Phillips, at the baby boy’s christening in 1977.
After Peter Phillips was born on November 15 1977, Princess Anne scaled back her public duties for a few months. A keen equestrian who had competed in the 1976 Olympics, Anne was photographed at the Amberley Horse Trials in March of 1978, four months after her son’s birth. She was also photographed visiting Nailsworth in Gloucestershire just a few weeks later on April 20. Later on that year, she took part in the State Visit of the President of Botswana in May 1978 and attended Royal Ascot in June.
Princess Anne’s daughter Zara Phillips was born on May 15, 1981, and she was next seen in public at Charles and Diana’s wedding that July, although this is not classed as an engagement. In March of 1982, 10 months after Zara’s birth, Anne attended a ceremony to mark her being elected as Chancellor of the University of London.
Princess Diana and Prince Charles introduce their newborn son Prince William to the world’s media outside the Lindo Wing.
Prince William’s birth on June 21, 1982 was met with huge fanfare around the world, and Diana was happy to show him off on the steps of the Lindo Wing the following day. However, after that very public photocall, she enjoyed some time out of the spotlight with a lighter working schedule.
Diana's first official appearance as a new mother was roughly month after William was born. She attended a Falklands memorial service on July 26, 1982 at St Paul’s Cathedral. Just days after that, William was christened on August 4, and weeks later, in September, Diana visited Scotland with the royal family where she was photographed at the Braemar Games.
In October of that year, the Princess of Wales went to a charity performance by the Welsh National Opera in Cardiff and then in November, she took part in the incoming state visit of Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands.
In March of 1983, Diana and Charles became the first royals to take their baby on an official overseas visit when they travelled with William to Australia and New Zealand.
Less than two months after Harry was born on September 15, 1984, Diana attended the State Opening of Parliament on November 6 and visited the Dr Bernardo’s Centre in east London on November 8. A few days after that, she went to a children’s home in Ealing. In December of that year, she took on a number of engagements, including a visit to the Royal School for the Blind in Surrey.
Sarah, Duchess of York
Prince Andrew with Sarah, Duchess of York, leaving the portland hospital with their daughter, Princess Eugenie in March of 1990.
The Duchess of York’s eldest daughter Princess Beatrice was born on August 8, 1988 at the Portland Hospital in central London. Andrew, who was in the Royal Navy, flew back to his ship two weeks after her arrival, but Fergie had a little longer away from duty. Beatrice was six weeks old when the Duchess flew out to Australia a few days early for an official tour with Andrew that started on September 28.
Beatrice stayed with her nanny Alison Wardley. Fergie later told a newspaper about the decision: “The last time he'd seen me I was 14 stone 7 lbs. I felt I needed to work on the marriage, so I left Beatrice in the hands of a wonderful nanny and went off to be with him." (For those unfamiliar, a stone is the equivalent of 14 pounds.)
When Fergie's second daughter, Princess Eugenie, was born on March 23, 1990, the Duchess also took some time off her official duties. It is not clearly documented what her first official engagement back from leave was, but it is known that she attended the Royal Windsor Horse Show on May 12, 1990 and was also at the Paralympics opening ceremony on July 21, 1990 in London.
Sophie, Countess of Wessex
Proud parents, Prince Edward and his wife Sophie pose with their baby girl, Lady Louise.
Sophie’s daughter Lady Louise was born prematurely and by emergency Caesarean section on November 8, 2003, after Sophie was rushed to the hospital with a placental abruption. Both she and the baby were in the hospital for several days after the birth. Sophie’s first official engagement was six months later on May 4, 2004 where she opened the new emergency department of a different hospital.
After the birth of her son James, Viscount Severn, on December 17, 2007, Sophie took nine months off of official public duties. She returned to the public eye on September 10, 2008, when she visited the 5th battalion the Rifles, an infantry regiment of the British Army, in northern Germany.
The Duchess of Cambridge
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge pose for photos outside the Lindo Wing with Princess Charlotte.
Kate followed a similar "maternity leave" schedule after the births of all three of her children, scaling back official duties for several months while still making the occasional appearance.
Five weeks after Prince George was born in July of 2013, she and Prince William made a joint public appearance in Anglesey, where William launched the Ring O’ Fire Ultra marathon. She appeared with him again at a Tusk Trust dinner on September 12 and made her first solo appearance as a new mother a month later on October 18 at the Olympic Park. Her timetable did not become busy, however, until April of 2014 when she and William took 10-month-old George on a three-week trip to Australia and New Zealand.
Following the arrival of Princess Charlotte on May 2, 2015 Kate’s first appearance was during the Queen's annual birthday parade, Trooping the Colour, on June 13. The Duchess carried out her first official engagement two months later on September 15 and her slate of public events gradually picked up from there.
With her third child, Prince Louis, who was born on April 23, 2018, Kate's first postpartum appearance was at Harry and Meghan’s wedding on May 19, but that was not an official appearance, rather, a family event. She was also on the Buckingham Palace balcony for Trooping the Colour on June 9, but the Duchess's first official engagement took place on October 2, with school children at a wildlife garden in Paddington.
*This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com
*Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors