Archie is here. Prince Harry’s son Harrison – Archie Harrison Mountbatten Windsor to be precise – was born on May 6. Seventh in line to the British throne. First bi-racial individual to be so. Though we have seen only a teeny portion of his forehead so far and do not know his birth details – was he born at home or hospital? – the sight of him bundled in cashmere in his father’s arms got us all choked.
The world had whipped itself into a frenzy throughout Meghan Markle’s pregnancy. We, who hadn’t been this curious about our own baby, held our breath when she hadn’t delivered by due date! And then it happened, the birth. The most famous fetus is now the most famous baby.
Was it a normal delivery? Was it induced? Was it C-section? No details of the actual birth have emerged, so we are content with praising her post-partum bump, the one she proudly displayed in a belted dress. The colour of her dress – white – is another factor to admire. How brave, how bold to wear white immediately after giving birth, went the chorus. The fact that Harry and Meghan made ‘intense’ eye contact while presenting baby to public is also being noted. They are not just about the baby, they are about being a couple.
Body language experts have weighed in: Meghan was nervous, Meghan was protective, Meghan was content, Meghan was lost… We got all views, all perspectives. Harry of course made dad jokes, and was forgiven like all dads are.
Right from the start, from the moment he defended Meghan’s right to privacy and was laughed at for being too much in love or under her thumb, public opinion swung from ‘henpecked’ to ‘feminist’ when it came to describing him. There is no doubt the prince is besotted.
Her belly was watched like a hawk, the bump even called fake by some. Her high heels through the nine months came in for a good deal of criticism. Meghan herself must have caught on to the fact by now that whatever she does or dons will be viewed with the entire range of emotions, from mild curiosity to heavy sneering. And she does come with enough satisfying baggage in terms of dysfunctional family, complete with an evil step-sister, for her haters.
People are divided over Meghan Markle’s poise. Too confident means unable to evoke our protectiveness, too nervous means letting us tear her into shreds. She herself is aware of the tightrope she walks, balancing the fairy tale. Presenting her firstborn, she declared, "It's magic, it's pretty amazing. I have the two best guys in the world so I'm really happy." She also called the baby ‘really calm’, kick-starting his PR.
To be Harry’s son is to be conceived, carried and born in the global gaze. Like Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Loius before him, little Archie will also be stalked and photographed eternally. Hopefully, he will get as used to being stared at as we are used to staring at him.
Shinie Antony is a writer and editor based in Bangalore. Her books include The Girl Who Couldn't Love, Barefoot and Pregnant, Planet Polygamous, and the anthologies Why We Don’t Talk, An Unsuitable Woman, Boo. Winner of the Commonwealth Short Story Asia Prize for her story A Dog’s Death in 2003, she is co-founder of the Bangalore Literature Festival and director of the Bengaluru Poetry Festival.