Why We'll (Probably) See Meghan Markle Before the End of Her Maternity Leave

Here's everything we know.

The royal baby is due any day now, and not only are we anxiously awaiting his or her arrival — we're also counting down to the next time we can expect to see Meghan Markle out and about again.

It was previously reported that the Duchess of Sussex's maternity leave could end sometime in October, but now, a royal source is telling Town and Country that we could expect to see her make an appearance even sooner than that.

The source told the magazine that her maternity leave is “likely to be longer” than three months, but that "She may make some official appearances during this time."

In other words, she could show up at some official events, like Queen Elizabeth's birthday parade, Trooping the Colour, on June 8 (which she attended last year). Prince Harry, meanwhile, is expected to return to royal duties sooner, and could be fulfilling some commitments mid-May.

The Duke And Duchess Of Sussex Attend A Commonwealth Day Youth Event At Canada House
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Here's everything we know.

When we last saw her:

Meghan's last big public appearance was during Commonwealth Day, though she also made a surprise appearance alongside Prince Harry to honor victims of the shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Her next scheduled appearance:

Even before giving birth, the duchess was already planning her post-baby return, with a scheduled appearance at the annual summit for the charity One Young World, which takes place in October in London.

Meghan and Prince Harry are also reportedly going on an official tour of Africa with Baby Sussex sometime this fall, most likely in October. However, that remains unconfirmed, and a royal source told the Sunday Times that they "hope to take the baby with them but will make a decision nearer the time."

Why she might make a few official appearances despite technically being on leave:

Last month, it was speculated that Meghan had already begun her maternity leave sometime in mid-March, though People noted at the time that since she was still taking private meetings, she wasn't technically off-duty just yet. But even though she'll now be off-duty for her maternity leave, she may still be making official appearances, as Town and Country's source says.

It's not uncommon for that to happen — Kate Middleton made public appearances while on maternity leave after giving birth to Prince Louis. However, those were pretty special circumstances: She first made an appearance honoring the royal tradition of a hospital-side photo call with her newborn (something Meghan and Harry have opted not to do), and then attended Prince Harry's wedding to Meghan (how often does your brother-in-law get married?).

Meghan Markle Prince Harry - Lead
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For what it's worth, Kate gave birth in April and officially ended her maternity leave in early October last year, which is roughly the same timeline we're looking at for Meghan so far. And as for public appearances for special circumstances, the Queen's birthday sounds like something Meghan might try to attend if she's able to.

Alexandra Messervy, a royal etiquette expert and founder of The English Manner, told InStyle last year that maternity leave in the country lasts up to a year, but added that it didn't seem likely that Meghan (especially with her strong work ethic) would be taking time off for that long.

What the private birth plan might signal about Baby Sussex's future in the spotlight:

Instead of a hospital-side photo call at the Lindo Wing (a royal tradition that's been in place since Princess Anne gave birth to her first child in 1977), Meghan and Harry plan to do a photocall at Windsor Castle, and are planning to announce the birth when they've had a chance to celebrate the news privately. That means we might not get an announcement until days after Baby Sussex is born, and it definitely sounds like they're setting a new precedent that gives them a little more control over just how public they want their child to be.

Despite what British tabloids may think, the soon-to-be parents deserve a little breathing room when it comes to sharing their child with the media.

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