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This Is Why Meghan Markle Can Upend Royal Tradition With her Private Birth

And here's why Kate Middleton can't.

The news from Buckingham Palace that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will not be announcing the birth of Baby Sussex when the royal bundle of joy arrives—and that there will be no photo call, to boot—has upended a decades-long tradition in the British monarchy. Instead, the couple has decided to release the news on their own timeframe, after "privately celebrating" with the royal family.

According to some reports, Meghan is considering a private birth at Frogmore Cottage.

Of course, Harry and Meghan's decision has been compared to what Prince William and Kate Middleton have done with the arrivals of Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis. Within hours of the births of their children, William and Kate have stood together with their babies on the steps of the exclusive Lindo Wing at London's St. Mary's hospital. But are Harry and Meghan defying royal protocol in rejecting what's become the norm?

The simple answer is no. Princess Diana started the tradition in 1982, when she gave birth to William. She again appeared publicly right after Harry was born two years later. Many royal watchers noted that Will and Kate's decision to follow in Diana's footsteps was a way to honor the late princess. When Prince George was born, Kate even wore a polka dot dress similar to the one Diana wore when she and Prince Charles introduced William to the world. In contrast, Queen Elizabeth gave birth to each of her four children at Buckingham Palace, with royal doctors in attendance.

Meghan and Harry, who have been steadfast in setting their own precedents, have more freedom because the prince is sixth in the line of succession. But as the wife of the future King of England, Kate follows an entirely different set of rules.

"Catherine is under enormous pressure to get it right," one royal insider told me. "She is our future Queen and, as such, feels a duty to make the nation feel part of such a happy event."

The insider adds, "It has nothing to do with wanting to be in the spotlight. I'm sure they'd like the same privacy the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are able to demand, but she understands the responsibilities of her role within the royal family."

As for how exactly Kate miraculously appears in heels and with freshly styled hair just hours after giving birth has always been something of a mystery. For example, when Prince Louis was born in 2018, Kate did the photo call with William and the new baby, and left the hospital within seven hours of giving birth. Some women have decried this practice, saying the Duchess of Cambridge sets an unrealistic expectation for other women after they give birth.

An episode of The Royal Rota podcast, which is hosted by ITV News royal editor Chris Ship and The Sunday Times royal correspondent Roya Nikkhah, explained another, more practical, reason why Kate and William appear on the steps of the hospital so quickly after the birth of each child.

"They don't want to put [the] hospital out. That's why they leave so quickly," said Nikkhah. "It's not because Kate wants to set an unrealistic standard about motherhood. They are very mindful of not putting the hospital and other patients having babies out." Kate and William also are known for going around and personally thanking each and every nurse and doctor who cared for Kate during her stay.

And for more on the upcoming royal birth, Here's The Real Reason Meghan and Harry Aren't Hiring a Nanny.

Diane Clehane is a New York-based journalist and author of Imagining Diana and Diana: The Secrets of Her Style.

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