With a new royal baby set to arrive as soon as this month, intrigue over how Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex will handle parenthood is piquing. And arguably the most persistent question on people’s minds is whether Harry plans to take paternity leave once baby Sussex makes his or her debut. While the royal family hasn’t issued an official statement on the matter at this point, highly-respected royal correspondent Katie Nicholl has offered up a bit of insider insight.
In an article for Time published April 3, Nicholl — author of Harry and Meghan: Life, Loss, and Love — explains that it is customary among royals for the father of a new child to take a traditional two-week break from his royal responsibilities. “It is quite normal for royal fathers to take paternity leave,” Nicholl told Time, adding, “Certainly with the modern royals, it is just very much something they do.”
While it may not be common in the US for fathers to receive any time off in the wake of a baby being born, it’s standard in the UK. According to Gov.uk, fathers are eligible for one or two weeks of paid paternity leave, during which time their employment rights must be protected. The duration can differ depending on employer, and it stands to reason the royal family has more flexibility than most. “We don’t know how long he’s going to take, whether it will just be the standard two weeks or possibly longer,” Nicholl acknowledged. “But certainly, he will be taking paternity leave.”
Looking at big brother Prince William’s history of parental leave can offer additional insight. The Duke of Cambridge took two weeks following Prince George’s birth in 2013; six weeks after Princess Charlotte’s birth in 2015; and barely any time off after Prince Louis’ birth in 2018.
Naturally, Harry will spend whatever amount of time he takes with new mom Meghan, who is reportedly on the same schedule Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge followed after Prince Louis’ birth last year — so, roughly six months of maternity leave. In the UK, women must take two weeks off following the birth of a child, but in total, they can take up to 52 weeks of maternity leave, per Gov.uk. The first 26 weeks are considered “ordinary maternity leave,” with the second half being designated as “additional maternity leave.”
A newborn is a lot of work, so it makes sense for the Meghan and Harry to adopt an all-hands-on-deck mentality in the months after bringing the baby home, even with all the child care they’re going to have. The soon-to-be parents, maybe even more so than any royals before them, certainly seem as though they intend to be hands-on parents.