It was the best-kept secret at Princess Eugenie’s wedding last Friday. Her cousin, the Duchess of Sussex, was with child.
The rest of the world learned yesterday morning – as the parents-to-be, Harry and Meghan, arrived in Sydney on the eve of a 16-day tour – that the Queen’s eighth great-grandchild, the seventh in line to the throne, was on the way.
The news from Kensington Palace came five months after the Sussexes married, in the same Windsor chapel as Eugenie, and after Meghan had undergone her 12-week scan.
The Palace said: “Their Royal Highnesses have appreciated all of the support they have received from people around the world since their wedding in May and are delighted to be able to share this happy news with the public.”
They informed the Queen and other members of the family as they gathered at Windsor with Eugenie and her new husband, Jack Brooksbank.
Others had been left to speculate on Meghan’s condition, especially given the loose fitting Givenchy coat she wore to the wedding.
The Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall and Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were all said to be “delighted” for the couple.
Meghan’s mother, Doria Ragland – who accompanied her on a public engagement in London last month – said she too was “very happy about this lovely news” and “looks forward to welcoming her first grandchild”.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, was among those to add his good wishes, writing on Twitter: “Congratulations to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex on their happy news! Prayers for them in the months ahead.”
The Prime Minister, asked about the news as she launched an anti-loneliness initiative in London, said: “It’s wonderful news. Very happy for them.”
It fell to the broadcaster and former MP Gyles Brandreth to say what others might have been thinking.
“They don’t hang around in Sussex, do they?”he wrote on Twitter.
It was around 6.30pm Sydney time when the official announcement came, prompting speculation that Meghan’s first official overseas duties as Duchess of Sussex might have to be curtailed.
But the Palace said there would be no change to the Royal itinerary, which takes in Fiji and Tonga, despite travel advice that pregnant women should consider not travelling there because of the moderate Zika virus risk.
The decision had been taken on medical advice, said aides to the 37-year-old Duchess.
She had in the past described motherhood as being on her “bucket list”, while Harry has often said he would love to have children.
“I can’t wait to start a family, but in due time,” Meghan said in 2016. In March this year, upon being shown a clothing range for newborns, she said: “I’m sure at some point we’ll need the whole (lot).”
The topic also cropped up in the couple’s engagement interview, with Harry speaking of their plans.
“You know, I think one step at a time, and hopefully we’ll start a family in the near future,” he said.
Even the Duchess’s father Thomas Markle, to whom she is believed not to have spoken since the wedding, ventured that he expected children soon.
He said on ITV a month after the ceremony: “She’s wanted children for a long time and when she met Harry and she spoke about how much she loves him, there’s got to be a child in the making, somewhere soon.”