Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle gave birth her first child on May 6, 2019, at 5:26 a.m. GMT according to Buckingham Palace. Markle’s mother, Doria Ragland, visited the Markle and Prince at their home, Frogmore Cottage, in Windsor to celebrate the occasion.
An Instagram post promptly went out to announce the royal couple has welcomed their newborn boy, who weighed a healthy 7 pounds, 3 ounces. A name will be revealed at a later time, but the fact of the matter is that their newly introduced son is the first interracial baby in at least the 21st century. We reported last year, that Markle may not be the first woman of color to enter the British monarchy, but this new addition has definitely made its mark in the royals’ recent history.
The newborn is seventh in line to the British throne, behind his father Prince Harry. It’s not clear whether the child will receive a royal title, like those bestowed on the three children of Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge, but from what we’ve seen so far, it wouldn’t be shocking to see a new prince added to the lineup.
“This little thing is absolutely to die for. I’m just over the moon,” Prince Harry enthused to reporters outside the couple’s residence. “Mother and baby are doing incredibly well. It’s been the most amazing experience I can ever possibly imagine. How any woman does what they do is beyond comprehension, and we’re both absolutely thrilled and so grateful for all the love and support from everybody out there. It’s been amazing, so we just wanted to share this with everybody.”
Now that a definitive mixed race royal baby is before our very eyes, we can only imagine what it means to the United Kingdom. Whereas the U.S. is known as a melting pot that has had at least one President of African descent, this royal baby may be a symbol of progressive modernization in a similar way for the British monarchy sans executive orders.
With Britain’s population being 87 percent white according to the Ethnicity Facts and Figures of Gov.UK, England isn’t known to be the friendliest to people of color when it comes to representation; especially when you factor in the legacy left behind from slavery and colonization that spanned hundreds of years. A fact that continues to impact Britain’s multicultural communities to this day. However, it’s worth note that interracial children are a fast-growing category according to the BBC, and is said to be the country’s largest minority group thanks to an increase from 0.3 to 0.5 percent in a span of ten years (2001 to 2011).
The plight that comes with adding a touch of color to the British royal family is one that shouldn’t be ignored since it is also a reflection of how its citizens feel about race relations in the U.K. as a whole.
Prince Harry, who has grown considerably on this front since his bachelor days, firmly putting controversial costumes behind him, has been on guard to thwart racially insensitive discussions concerning his wife and now growing family. In 2016, he made it a point to address and condemn the British tabloids for their unfair coverage that was ultimately charged by Markle’s race, sex and status as a divorcee.
Whether it’s a tone-death brooch that represents Britain’s role in the enslavement of African bodies to derisively racist language from the right-wing U.K. Independence Party, controversy seems to surround the couple despite no fault of their own.
Markle, 37, and Harry, 34, have gone about their relationship like any other millennial couple out there, which involves a desire for autonomy and a breakaway from tradition. The pair married last May and had a wedding unlike the rest of the royal family with a gospel choir, African American bishop and some of Hollywood’s elite in attendance. By the fall, the couple went outside of convention when they announced their move from central London’s Kensington Palace to Frogmore Cottage, which is about 25 miles west of the British capital sits near Windsor Castle. The relocation served as gossip fodder that there was a rift between families and that Markle was the center of it all, though, we’re glad these rumors haven’t shown to be substantive.
More recently, the royal couple made waves when they opened a joint Instagram account @sussexroyal and revealed they would forgo the traditional post-birth photo op outside the Lindo Wing at St. Mary’s Hospital, a choice that’s backed by Oprah Winfrey. Additionally, there have been rumblings in the last few weeks that the philanthropic royal pair have been planning a tour of Africa with their newborn in tow. This venture would a loaded expedition because it’s not only where the duke and duchess fell in love, b
ut it would also encompass former colonies. What this would mean for the interracial family has yet to be seen.
Just like everything else, critics will voice their opinions on every move Markle and Prince Harry make. The pregnancy was no exception, and this was apparent when British media lambasted Markle’s $430,000 baby shower despite it being a privately financed event by her celebrity friends. And let’s not forget how Markle offended viewers when she dared to hold her baby bump in public.
Journalists have defended their coverage of the royal family on the basis of free speech and a right to report on a monarchy that sports lavish lifestyles with the support of public funds. Although it is in within their right to criticize, it calls into question how the royal baby will be received as an intersectional entity. Will the royal be under heavier scrutiny as a biracial male in comparison to their cousins Princess Charlotte and Princes George and Louis? Some will surely say yes while others will deny race and gender play a factor. But only time will tell how the newest addition to the family will affect the monarchy and country as a whole.
Despite this, we can be sure that Markle and Prince Harry will raise their child how they see fit. Going back to International Women’s Day in March, the Duchess of Sussex mentioned in a panel that she’d like to see her bundle of joy grow up to be a feminist. She cited the Netflix documentary Feminists: What Were They Thinking?, which she watched about “the embryonic kicking of feminism” during pregnancy. She went on to say, “I loved that, so boy or girl, whatever it is, we hope that that’s the case with our little bump.”
Now, whether the royal baby will get the same treatment when it comes to learning about blackness and their mother’s American upbringing is something many people of color are curious to see. Growing up as a black royal is sure to be steeped with privilege, but identity politics can surely rear its head. Regardless of what happens, let’s hope for the best.
Update: On May 8, 2019, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex revealed that they named their son Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor.
How do you feel about Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s firstborn royal baby? And what do you think this royal family will have to face in the future? Let us know in the comments below!