CANBERRA, Australia — Prince Harry and his wife, the Duchess of Sussex, are expecting their first child in the spring, Kensington Palace said Monday.
The announcement came hours after Harry and the former Meghan Markle arrived in Sydney at the start of a 16-day visit to Australia, Fiji, Tonga and New Zealand. Hundreds of people gathered to catch a glimpse of the couple after they landed.
“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,” the palace said in a statement.
After their arrival in Sydney, the prince and the former American actress held hands and walked out an airport rear entrance and into a car. Meghan, wearing skinny black pants and a black, burgundy trimmed coat, was smiling and clutching folders, while Harry gave a thumbs up to bystanders.
The announcement of the pregnancy confirms weeks of speculation from royal watchers about why Meghan was not joining Harry on his Sydney Harbour Bridge climb set for Friday.
Harry and Meghan — along with Prince William and his wife, Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge — have stepped to the fore in the last year as Queen Elizabeth II, 92, slightly reduces her public schedule.
Monday’s announcement is welcome news in Britain, where Meghan has won many hearts since her engagement to Harry was announced last December.
British Prime Minister Theresa May offered her “warmest congratulations” on the news, which provided a bit of relief from concerns about the stalled Brexit negotiations. “Wishing them all the best,” May tweeted.
The royal couple started dating in July 2016 after they were introduced by friends, and Harry courted Meghan on a trip to Africa shortly afterward. They kept their relationship secret for several months but word eventually leaked to the British press.
They were married in May in a spectacular ceremony on the grounds of Windsor Castle that drew tens of thousands of people to Windsor and was watched by a global TV audience.
Harry has become immensely popular in Britain, in part because of his military service and tireless work on behalf of wounded soldiers, and he has spoken often in recent years of his desire to settle down and start a family.
When the couple got engaged, Harry was asked about plans for children.
“You know, I think one step at a time, and hopefully we’ll start a family in the near future,” he said.
He said in 2015, before he met Meghan, that he would “love to have kids right now.”
Meghan has also talked about wanting to have children.
She said in a 2016 interview that becoming a mother was on her “bucket list.” She was still acting in “Suits” at the time.
“I can’t wait to start a family, but in due time,” she said.
Meghan, with her American roots and successful acting career, has been seen as a modernizing influence on the sometimes stodgy royal family, and she is credited by many for bringing happiness to Harry, who has long struggled to cope with the early death of his mother, Princess Diana.
Harry has broken new ground by talking openly about his mental health issues related to the death of his mother when he was only 12, and that candidness, which is part of a royal campaign to raise awareness about mental illness and end the stigma surrounding it, has brought the royals increased public backing.
The royal couple reportedly held announcing the pregnancy to avoid upstaging the wedding of royal cousin Princess Eugenie this weekend as she tied the knot in a lavish ceremony in Windsor.
However the baby born to Prince Harry and Meghan, would be in front of Princess Eugenie in the line of succession to the British throne when it is born next spring. Here is the current line of succession to the British throne upon of the death of 92-year-old Queen Elizabeth II:
- Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, eldest child of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip
- Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, eldest child of Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana.
- Prince George, oldest child of Prince William and Kate, the duchess of Cambridge.
- Princess Charlotte, middle child of William and Kate
- Prince Louis, youngest child of William and Kate
- Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex, youngest child of Charles and Diana
- Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, second son of the queen and Philip
- Princess Beatrice, oldest child of Prince Andrew and his ex-wife Sarah Ferguson
- Princess Eugenie, youngest child of Andrew and Ferguson
- Prince Edward, the Earl of Wessex, youngest son of the queen and Philip
U.S. President Donald Trump’s representative in Britain, Ambassador Woody Johnson, commented on the announcement, tweeting: “Happy news to wake up to on a Monday morning — congratulations to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex!!”