The countdown is on: Meghan and Harry’s first baby is expected any day now. The couple has just launched a joint Instagram account, sparking fevered speculation that a big announcement is on the way.
Here’s what we know so far — and what the world is waiting to find out — about the newest addition to the royal family.
When did Meghan announce her pregnancy?
Just five months after their wedding in May 2018, Harry and Meghan touched down in Australia for their first overseas tour as a married couple in October.
What was already set to be a hectic visit turned into a royal frenzy when news that the couple were expecting broke just as they arrived in Sydney at the start of their 16-day tour of Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Tonga.
Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are very pleased to announce that The Duchess of Sussex is expecting a baby in the Spring of 2019. pic.twitter.com/Ut9C0RagLk
— Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) October 15, 2018
When is the baby due?
Kensington Palace officials have been tight-lipped about the Duchess of Sussex’s exact due date, other than to say that Meghan and Harry’s first baby is due in the spring of 2019.
But at various royal engagements since the original announcement, Meghan is said to have told members of the public the baby is due to arrive around the end of April or the beginning of May.
Where will Meghan give birth?
With just days or weeks to go, it is still unclear where the new royal baby will make his or her entrance into the world.
In recent years, the Lindo Wing at London’s St. Mary’s Hospital has become the de facto maternity ward for royal births.
Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, gave birth to her three children — Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis — at the hospital.
It is also where Harry and his brother Prince William were born.
The “world class” maternity ward provides private birthing suites and even offers new mothers a “celebratory high tea” and a glass of champagne to welcome their new arrival.
William’s birth at the hospital in Paddington was something of a break with tradition, however, as until then all heirs to the throne had been born at home (or at one of the royal family’s homes).
But, with Meghan and Harry recently moving from Kensington Palace to a new home — Frogmore Cottage in Windsor, around 23 miles west of central London — they may opt for a hospital nearby.
Some media outlets have speculated that the couple may choose Frimley Park Hospital in Surrey as it could be more accessible for Meghan, should the former actress go into labor while in Windsor.
However, others have reported that staff at the Lindo Wing have been asked to not take holiday in April — something which may or may not be to do with Meghan’s due date.
Will it be a boy or a girl?
No one knows whether the new arrival will be a boy or a girl. In fact, even the Duke and Duchess of Sussex don’t know for sure.
At an event in February, Meghan was overheard saying that the couple had decided not to find out the baby’s sex before the birth.
Regardless of modern medical technology, the sex of a royal baby isn’t usually revealed until after he or she is born. So we’ll all just have to wait and see.
What happens after Meghan gives birth?
Once the baby is born, Queen Elizabeth II, British Prime Minister Theresa May and the Governor General of each Commonwealth nation will be informed, along with the rest of the royals and Meghan’s family in the United States.
If the baby is born in the middle of the night it’s unlikely the 92-year-old monarch will be woken up to hear the news, so in the event of an overnight delivery, an announcement likely won’t be made until the following morning.
Following the birth, an official notice will be signed by Meghan’s doctors, confirming the newborn’s gender, weight and time of birth.
This notice will be taken to Buckingham Palace, under police guard, where it will be framed and placed on an easel in the palace forecourt, for members of the public to read.
When Kate and William’s children were born, the Prince’s savvy PR team was instructed to publicly announce the royal births on their official social media accounts at the same time.
When will the public get to see the baby for the first time?
This is up to Meghan and Harry, and will likely depend at least in part on where the royal baby makes his or her entrance.
Catherine and William appeared on the steps of the Lindo Wing within hours of the births of both Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis to introduce their newborns to the world’s media and bystanders gathered outside the hospital’s front door.
Whether reporters and well-wishers will be able to stake out a similar position for a prime view of Baby Sussex’s debut is unclear.
What will the baby be called?
It could take anything up to 10 days after the birth for the baby’s name to be announced.
Until then, speculation will be rife.
Diana, Alice and Victoria are all among the bookmakers’ picks for a girl, while for a boy the favorites are Albert, Philip and Arthur.
Tradition plays a huge role when choosing a royal name.
Albert, for example, would be a reference to Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert and also to Queen Elizabeth II’s father, King George VI, who was known as Albert until his accession to the throne. And, of course, Diana would be a nod to Harry and William’s mother, who was killed in a car crash in Paris in 1997.
But the couple could opt to skip tradition altogether, as Queen Elizabeth’s granddaughter Zara Phillips did when she chose to name her daughters Mia Grace and Lena Elizabeth.
Meghan’s American background might even influence the couple’s choice of name for their child.
What surname will the baby have?
Royal babies are given a lot of names — Harry’s full name, for example, is Henry Charles Albert David. But those titled His or Her Royal Highness don’t, traditionally, have a surname.
When William and Harry were at school and during their later military careers, they used “Wales” — derived from their father’s official title as Prince of Wales.
As descendants of Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh, they could also use Windsor, or Mountbatten-Windsor — both of which are relatively new inventions, adopted during World War I to disguise the family’s German origins.
As for Meghan and Harry, their child will likely use Sussex — their assigned dukedom — as a surname, just as William and Catherine’s children use Cambridge at school.
Could the baby be King or Queen?
Meghan and Harry’s child, who will be Queen Elizabeth II’s seventh great-grandchild, will be seventh in line to the throne. He or she will follow Charles, the Prince of Wales — who is currently the next in line, followed by William, his three children and Harry himself.
So, does that mean the baby will be a prince or princess?
Despite being seventh in line to the throne, Meghan and Harry’s baby won’t automatically become a prince or princess.
That’s because in 1917, King George V limited the use of such titles within the British royal family, and the couple’s child will be too far down the line of succession.
However, the Queen could step in to overrule that decree — as she has done with William and Catherine’s younger children, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis (since he’s third in line to the throne, George was automatically a prince).
Will he or she have dual citizenship?
Meghan and Harry’s child will become the first British-American baby born into the royal family.
The newborn will automatically be a British citizen, but the Duke and Duchess of Sussex will have to report their child’s birth to an American consulate in order for him or her to obtain US citizenship.
In the case of the royal baby, he or she will be eligible because s/he was born in wedlock abroad to an American citizen who has lived in the US for a period of five years, at least two of which were after the age of 14 — according to the US Department of State.
Why has the world gone wild over Meghan and Harry’s baby?
News of the royal baby was a largely symbolic landmark for the UK’s history books, particularly at a time when Britain’s busy cutting its ties with the European Union, writes Jane Merrick for CNN.
“The new prince or princess will not only have that American heritage, but will also be the first biracial baby in line to the British throne,” she said.
“Any new baby is a symbol of hope for the future of any family. But these expectations will be made all the heavier for the newest member of the royal family — particularly at a time of uncertainty and upheaval in the UK.”
According to Merrick, Meghan and Harry’s wedding was a “much-needed counterpoint to the climate of fear and hostility over immigration that has become magnified since the Brexit referendum.”