Let's All Stop The Speculation About Meghan Markle's Womb, Shall We?

Let's All Stop The Speculation About Meghan Markle's Womb, Shall We?

By Katie Rosseinsky Posted on 14 Sep 2018

It’s the day of Princess Eugenie‘s royal wedding, and headlines are screaming one question: Is Meghan Markle pregnant? The reasoning behind this line of enquiry (other than the fact that it’s apparently fair game to speculate on the status of a royal woman’s womb - see also Kate Middleton) is that Meghan’s wedding outfit features a silhouette that differs from her usual style. The occasion-appropriate Givenchy coat dress in navy blue, which the Duchess paired with complementary accessories from Noel Stewart, was buttoned at the top but was left open at the waist - prompting a slew of comments about how the outfit would be ‘perfect for hiding a baby bump.’ Sigh.

So many women in their thirties will have had to grin and bear it while they face down awkward questions from well-meaning family members, over-solicitous acquaintances and even complete strangers: have you thought about having children? And might there be a baby on the way soon? It’s a line of interrogation that often intensifies just after a wedding – and, following her high-profile nuptials back in May, the Duchess of Sussex is experiencing this scrutiny on a major scale.

Prior to the royal wedding, past interviews and the couple’s post-engagement conversation with the BBC’s Mishal Husain were analysed and then analysed again for hints that they’d be keen to soon start a family (and thus provide the world with some heart-warming royal baby #content from the steps of the Lindo Wing ASAP); a former colleague of Meghan’s made headlines when she recalled the new Duchess saying that she ‘would absolutely love to have children, and] [can’t wait to be a mother.’ Since then, the slightest bunching of fabric around the stomach area - or conversely, if the Duchess chooses an outfit that’s less than body-conscious, like her autumn wedding ensemble - has been enough to prompt a slew of articles questioning whether there’s a ‘baby on the way?’ for the Sussexes. It’s all a little wearying – a constant reminder that, for many, Meghan won’t appear to be doing her job ‘properly’ if she doesn’t produce a royal heir, and that, by extension, all women are good for is carrying children.

Thanks to the impending royal tour of Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Tonga, there’s been even further, more invasive speculation. Last month, Daily Express reporter Richard Palmer noted on Twitter that British bookmakers Coral had slashed the odds on Harry and Meghan’s first child being born next year to 1-4. The fact that a woman’s uterus is the subject of betting nationwide would be grim enough, but the discussion didn’t end there, with Palmer noting ‘I believe women visiting areas affected by Zika are advised to wait up to six months before trying to get pregnant.’ As Fiji and Tonga are currently risk areas for the mosquito-borne virus, which can cause problems such as microcephaly in children when contracted by pregnant women, the implication is that the Sussexes would have to wait a while after their trip before attempting to conceive safely, thus throwing Coral’s bets off course and making a 2019 baby rather unlikely.

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Of course, Palmer’s point is a factually accurate one (though some health guidelines have recently taken the incubation period down to three months) - it may well be the case that this is something that the couple have had to consider. But this overly detailed speculation about Meghan and Harry’s personal choices, counting down to a potential date when the Duchess might be able to fulfil the role of royal mother, certainly leaves an unpleasant taste.

At this stage, Meghan is one of the most famous women in the world, as well as one who is regularly cited as a role model for young women thanks to her high-profile advocacy and charity work. Seeing the conversation around her reduced to the question of ‘baby or no baby?’ is particularly depressing as it merely re-emphasises how motherhood is still seen as a woman’s crowning achievement, whatever their other accomplishments. It’d be a shame to see Eugenie’s wedding and the Sussexes’ first international tour overshadowed by constant discussion of the Duchess’s uterus: while we praise Meghan and Harry for their more modern approach to royalty, surely we should stop taking such a medieval attitude to one woman’s fertility.

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