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Harry and Meghan’s baby will have freedom but still face scrutiny over behaviour

The duke and duchess’s youngster, due this month, will be the child of a second-born royal son – just like the Queen.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex (Dominic Lipinski/PA)
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s child will enjoy a more “normal” life, but will still face pressure to conform to royal standards, a historian has suggested.

Dr Jonathan Spangler, of Manchester Metropolitan University, argued that the baby’s position as the offspring of a second-born royal son will offer him or her greater freedom than the Cambridges’ children.

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Brothers the Duke of Cambridge and the Duke of Sussex with the Duchess of Sussex and the Prince of Wales in Westminster Abbey (Richard Pohle/The Times/PA)

But Baby Sussex, who is due this month, will, just like Harry did, face scrutiny over their behaviour as they grow up as part of the Windsor family.

Dr Spangler, who specialises on the institution of monarchy, said: “There are three Cambridge children and maybe there will be a fourth.

“There will be plenty of royal duties for them to do, and less and less for Harry’s child to do.

“But Harry and Meghan’s child will still be expected to live up to a certain standard.

“You can see that problem with Harry’s life as well. He was held up to a much higher scrutiny than his friends.”

The duke, born a spare to an heir and the second son of the Prince and Princess of Wales, used to be known for his scuffles, scrapes and scandals.

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Twenty-year-old Prince Harry in 2005 (Barry Batchelor/PA)

In his youth, William’s impulsive younger brother brawled with a paparazzi photographer, dabbled with cannabis and sparked worldwide outrage by dressing up as a Nazi for a fancy dress party.

He even confessed in 2017 that he once “wanted out” of the royal family, but said he “decided to stay in and work out a role for myself”.

Dr Spangler added: “The people Harry went to Eton with went off to parties, got drunk and nobody published their pictures in the newspaper.

“He had this double standard always – he was expected to be a teenager but not allowed to be one.

“That problem will recur again in the next generation.”

Unless the Queen intervenes, Baby Sussex will not be an HRH because George V limited titles within the royal family during the First World War.

“People who are not HRHs are free to go off and start business ventures and companies and whatever they like,” the historian said.

“Harry and Meghan’s baby could grow up to be a bit more normal, or as normal as they can be in this media-centred world.”

This royal baby is not expected to ever become monarch, but it is not unheard of for children of second-born royal sons to become king or queen.

The Queen was, like Baby Sussex, the child of a second-born royal son – George VI – and Princess Elizabeth was never thought likely to be a sovereign when she was born.

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Princess Elizabeth, right, and Princess Margaret in 1933 before Elizabeth became the heiress presumptive (PA)

When Edward VIII abdicated and had no heirs, his younger brother the Duke of York was forced to become king as George VI, eventually paving the way for the princess to reign as Elizabeth II.

Queen Anne – depicted by Oscar-winning actress Olivia Colman in The Favourite – was also the second daughter, and fourth child, of a second son – James II – who was a brother of Charles II.

Harry and Meghan’s offspring, who will be seventh in line, will not wear the crown unless there is a “twist of dynastic fate”, Dr Spangler said.

This is unlikely, given that the Duke of Cambridge has three children – future king Prince George, and two spares Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis.

Dr Spangler said: “It is possible through the twists of dynastic fate, although much less likely given we have modern medical practice and science.

“An entire (side of the royal) family won’t be wiped out from smallpox like it would in the 17th century.

“I’m sure (royal babies) are taught from the very moment they’re breathing that this is a potentiality and that even if you do pursue a normal life, there’s still some inkling of a future, more prominent, role.”

The public’s affection for Harry will also raise the profile of this royal youngster, the senior lecturer on early modern European history suggested.

“Harry is so popular, now more popular than William. By default, the child will be very much in the public eye,” he said.

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