Less than three weeks into her maternity leave Meghan Markle is out of sight but not out of mind, amid claims she may shun a decades-old royal tradition and not give birth at one of London’s poshest hospitals.
With no actual Meghan news to cover, British tabloid The Sun claimed the Duchess of Sussex “has opted” not to welcome her first child later this month at the Lindo Wing of St Mary’s Hospital.
Princess Diana gave birth to princes William and Harry at the $10,982-a-night private maternity unit in Paddington, and Princess Anne had Peter and Zara Phillips there in the 1970s.
Kate Middleton did stylised post-delivery photo calls outside after the arrivals of Prince George, 5, Princess Charlotte, 3, and Prince Louis, 11 months.
Kensington Palace has not commented on the story, headlined ‘Meghan snubs Kate & Di hospital’ and quoting an unnamed source as saying, “The child will not be born at the Lindo”.
The source claimed the Sussexes want Meghan “to recover somewhere more private”.
Meghan wants “to bond with her baby, without being primped and blow-dried to within an inch of her life just for the pictures,” the source said.
But, reading the tea leaves differently, The Telegraph reported on March 29 staff at the Lindo Wing have been asked not to take holiday in April.
“Everyone thinks it’s got something to do with the royal baby, but no one is confirming anything,” a source said.
If Meghan does shun the luxe Lindo – which offers a la carte menus and massages – where will Baby Sussex be born?
“Until they make an announcement, we don’t know,” royals correspondent Victoria Murphy told Town & Country magazine.
“What the palace officials have to take into consideration is [the danger of] disrupting day-to-day services of hospitals and maternity wards.”
Given that, Murphy thinks the tried-and-tested Lindo is the most likely option: “The royals have recently had three births there, and the logistics with the public and the media and everything have gone smoothly.”
Rumours have swirled since Meghan announced her pregnancy in October, including that she plans to give birth as a public patient under the National Health Service.
Other stories claim she is “dedicated” to “New Age” techniques including chanting and “sound therapy”, and will use them during labour.
Vanity Fair reported in November that Meghan (who at 37 is considered a ‘geriatric’ mum) wants a home birth, like generations of royal mothers including Queen Elizabeth.
“Why not? It’s 2019. Obviously if she had a home birth, a team will arrive, and she’ll be in safe hands,” Harry’s biographer Duncan Larcombe said.
Another mooted option is public Frimley Park Hospital in Surrey, which coped with the Countess of Wessex’s 2003 emergency caesarean section.
The hospital offers birth pools, mood-changing lighting and “midwife-led birth centres” according to its website.
It’s 11 kilometres closer than the Lindo Wing to Harry and Meghan’s soon-to-be new home, Frogmore Cottage at Windsor.
But Meghan may have to pare back her luggage.
“In order to keep your bed area as uncluttered as possible please only bring essential requirements,” instructs the Frimley site.
“Car seats and outdoor clothes are not needed until the day you go home.”
If the duchess decides on fancy over no frills, another choice is London’s Portland Hospital for Women, an expensive celebrity favourite where the Duchess of York, Victoria Beckham and Jools Oliver gave birth.