Inside the World Meghan Markle & Prince Harry Created for Son Archie

Meghan Markle Reveals What Archie WON’T Be Getting for Christmas

At 5 years old, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor is leading quite the normal life.

For your basic celebrity kid, that is.

He’s seen three continents and lived in three countries. Oprah Winfrey and Rob Lowe are among his neighbors. His vicarious social media presence is sparse and carefully curated. His first public words came on a podcast. And he has already inspired a children’s book

A book he loved, according to the author, his mom.

But while this existence is what Archie knows, having settled in Southern California with his parents when he was barely 9 months old, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry upended their lives to get their family to this place, both geographically and existentially.

So, if one day he’s ever especially curious about his earliest years, before he started having memories, let’s just say they’re well-documented.

Born May 6, 2019, less than two weeks shy of his parents’ first wedding anniversary, at Portland Hospital in London, the infant then only publicly known as Baby Sussex appeared in his first news footage when he was 2 days old, cradled in his dad’s arms outside Windsor Castle.

theroyalfamily via Instagram

Soon his full name would be revealed, along with a photo of Queen Elizabeth II meeting her seventh great-grandchild. It was widely assumed at the time that Meghan and Harry were the ones who decided to pass on their son having a royal title at birth, preferring a semblance of normalcy to fancy honorifics.

“It’s magic,” Meghan said about becoming a mum. “It’s pretty amazing and, I mean, I have the two best guys in the world, so I’m really happy.”

Behind closed doors, at least, life with Archie at Frogmore Cottage, near Windsor Castle, was delightful. “He has the sweetest temperament, he’s really calm,” Meghan told reporters when introducing her son to the world. Added Harry, holding what was widely agreed to be his mini-me in his arms, “His looks are changing every single day.”

So far, parenting was “amazing,” he continued. “We’ve only been at it two and a half, three days, but we’re just so thrilled to have our own little bundle of joy, to be able to spend some precious times with him as he slowly starts to grow up.” As they slightly angled Archie so the photographers could get a clearer glimpse, Harry quipped, “He’s already got a little bit of facial hair as well.” 

His first public Dad joke.

Archie became a big brother on June 4, 2021, when his sister Lilibet Diana was born at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital in California, her arrival coming long after the Duke and Duchess of Sussex realized being working royals just wasn’t working out for them.

When journalist Tom Bradby checked in with Harry and Meghan during their September 2019 trip to Africa with then-5-month-old Archie, “happy” wasn’t the word anyone would use to describe the couple.

In what turned out to be their first unprecedentedly raw interview, Meghan talked about how the pressure she felt amid the relentless media scrutiny of every move she made had affected her physical and mental health.

“I would say—look, any woman, especially when they’re pregnant, you’re really vulnerable and…so that was made really challenging,” she said. “And then when you have a newborn…” She sighed out a laugh. “You know.”

Asked if it would be fair to say she’d been struggling, she replied, “Yes.”


The chat, part of the ITV special Harry & Meghan: An African Journey, got even more intense when Harry admitted that seeing a horde of camera flashes couldn’t help but still remind him of his own mother, Princess Diana, who was hounded by the press from the moment she entered the royal realm as then-Prince Charles‘ 19-year-old fiancée until she died in 1997.

When Meghan told Bradby that she had brushed aside her friends’ warnings that the British tabloids would “destroy [her] life” if she got involved with the U.K.’s most eligible bachelor, her regular critics (and some new ones who didn’t like being lumped in with the repeat offenders) had a field day explaining all the ways she had flubbed being a royal and was dragging Harry down with her.

And while there were plenty of defenders who championed Meghan’s decision to speak so candidly about what it was like as a new mom living the fishbowl existence, it was the beginning of the end of their attempt to go with the working-royal flow. 


Harry and Meghan kicked off 2020 by announcing they planned to become financially independent from the crown and start splitting their time between the U.K. and North America, destination unknown at the time. 

“It was never walking away—it was stepping back, rather than stepping down,” Harry clarified to pal James Corden when he joined the Late Late Show host for a bit featuring the British transplants touring L.A. (and failing to enjoy high tea) aboard a double-decker bus. “It was a really difficult environment, as I think a lot of people saw. We all know what the British press can be like, and it was destroying my mental health.

“I was like, This is toxic. So I did what any husband and what any father would do, is like, I need to get my family out of here.”

Which most people—some approving, some viciously disapproving—interpreted as stepping down.

His grandmother, father and brother Prince William had been aware that Harry was increasingly unhappy—though, according to Harry’s 2023 memoir Spare, they didn’t particularly understand why—but the couple’s announcement came before all the details of their exit had been hashed out.


Harry and Meghan spent New Year’s Eve of 2019 with Archie in a massive waterfront estate on Vancouver Island, Canada having been Meghan’s adopted home while she filmed six seasons of the USA drama Suits. That’s where Meghan stayed with Archie as talks began between Harry, William, Charles and the queen about what, exactly, this break from the Firm would really look like. And it’s where Archie stayed when Meghan flew back to England to participate in her last handful of engagements as a senior royal.

As it turned out, there was no such thing as part-time. Instead it was decided that as of March 31, 2020, they would sponge the term “royal” from their future business and charitable endeavors, and would not lose but could no longer use their HRH titles or present themselves as (or directly profit from being) the Duke and Duchess of Sussex in public life.

They were back in California by the onset of the pandemic and settled into a $14.7 million gated home in Montecito that August after riding out the first few months of quarantine at Tyler Perry‘s house in Beverly Hills, the Atlanta-based actor and studio head offering the space to ease their transition into their new lives.

Meghan and Harry also established their charitable organization, Archewell, the Greek word Arche meaning “sources of action.” And the name, which they also use for their media projects, obviously reminded them of Archie.

Harry wouldn’t return to England until April 2021, for his grandfather Prince Philip‘s funeral. (Meghan, pregnant with Lili and advised not to fly, stayed at home with Archie.)

Though cousin Peter Phillips walked between William and Harry in the funeral procession to St. George’s Chapel, Harry organically gravitated toward William and Kate after the service, what was widely viewed as a welcome thaw between the brothers after months of tension, including the royal family’s strong reaction to Harry and Meghan’s bombshell sit-down with Oprah.

Harry recalled in Spare hoping that he and his father and brother could really have a conversation, finally, about everything that had gone down before he and Meghan left. But neither Charles nor William seemed to think there was anything to talk about, according to the spare heir.

The Duke of Sussex/@SaveChildrenUK

All the while, he and Meghan—who already had ticked off royal watchers by not allowing any media access to Archie’s christening and not publicly naming his godparents (we now know Perry is one of them)—had been doing royal parenthood differently on their opposing side of the pond.

They released a rare video of Archie for his first birthday, so it seemed like perhaps they’d fall into the traditional line at least as far as marking family milestones with new photographs, but they don’t keep a set schedule.

“Even after lockdown is lifted they plan to keep [Archie] away from the cameras,” a source told royal biographer Katie Nicholl at the time. “They want him to have an ordinary childhood away from the cameras.”

Which didn’t mean his public presence wasn’t being carefully curated. Case in point: the Rockwellian rendering of the family that was featured on their 2020 Christmas card, after which he was heard speaking for the first time on the first (and last) episode of their Spotify podcast Archewell Audio, when Meghan asked her little boy, “Archie, is it fun?”

“Fun?” he echoed.

She should have brought up reptiles, “crocodile” having been Archie’s first word according to Harry, who told Corden, “He’s already putting three, four words together. He’s already singing songs.”

The toddler was also well-versed in breakfast, Harry explaining, “Meg makes up a beautiful organic mix, in the waffle maker, flip it, out it comes. He loves it. And now I have waffles for breakfast, bit of yogurt, bit of jam on top—I don’t know if that’s the right thing to do—bit of berries maybe, a little honey, maybe some syrup. Archie wakes up in the morning, and he just goes, ‘Waffle?'”

Overall, his son was “hysterical,” with “the most amazing personality.”

In a chat with members of the Rugby Football League, Harry mentioned that he couldn’t find child-size rugby balls anywhere, but he definitely hoped his son would be a fan of the sport, which is especially popular in the U.K. and Australia. “So, I need to get him playing some Rugby League.”

Handout/Chris Jackson/Invictus Games Foundation via Getty Images

 When Lili was still on the way, Harry told Oprah, “We’ve got our family. We’ve got, you know, the four of us and our two dogs, and it’s great.”

He was “just grateful, like, to have any child, any one or any two would have been amazing. But to have a boy and then a girl, you know, what more can you ask for?”

Bittersweetly, both of their kids now have titles and are known on the royal family website as Prince Archie of Sussex and Princess Lilibet of Sussex, sixth and seventh in line to the throne, the elevation coming after the Sept. 8, 2022, death of their great-grandmother Queen Elizabeth II—which made them grandchildren of the reigning monarch, King Charles III.

And kids in that position get titles, unless their parents expressly say no, as Charles’ sister Princess Anne did for son Peter and daughter Zara Tindall (née Phillips) when they were born.

But the Sussex kids’ subtle promotion within the family didn’t make Harry and Meghan more inclined to stop doing what they were already doing. Which was continue to shake things up.

The smash-hit Netflix docuseries Harry & Meghan—which came out in November 2022—featured their side of the story of how the schism between Harry and the rest of his immediate family came about, and included a host of family photos and home movies.

Then Spare came out the following January, and the world found out that the rift with his brother hadn’t healed at all between the time Harry left the U.K. and more than two years later, when he and Meghan reunite with William and Kate Middleton to go through the rituals of mourning the late queen.

“I’ve said before that I’ve wanted a family, not an institution—so of course, I would love nothing more than for our children to have relationships with members of my family,” he told People in an interview timed to the book’s release. “And they do with some, which brings me great joy.

Unsurprisingly, Harry flew solo to England for his father’s May 6 coronation, then jetted right back to California to reunite with his family for Archie’s fourth birthday that same day. A bicycle shop owned by a fellow Brit not far from the family’s home in Montecito, Calif., presented the littlest prince in their midst with some new wheels for the occasion.

But while Harry and Meghan have done some serious airing of their own feelings, they’re doing parenting extremely close to the vest.

“The kids are doing great,” he told Good Morning America on Feb. 16, sharing a rare update on his family world after he made a quick visit to the U.K. to see his dad after Charles shared he’d been diagnosed with cancer. “The kids are growing up like all kids do—very, very fast.”

Harry added, “They both have got an incredible sense of humor and make us laugh and keep us grounded every single day like most kids do. I’m just very grateful to be a dad.”

And they’re all still members of royalty, so keep reading to get caught up on the family’s news so far in 2024:

Handout/Millie Pilkington/Buckingham Palace via Getty Images

Returning to Public Duties

On April 26, nearly three months after sharing his cancer diagnosis, Buckingham Palace announced that Charles will return to public-facing duties

Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Queen Camilla Attends Royal Maundy Service

The queen consort attended the Royal Maundy Service on March 28 in place of King Charles III, making her the first spouse of the Monarch to continue the ancient tradition.

BBC Studios

Kate Middleton Shares Cancer Diagnosis

In a March 22 video message, the Princess of Wales shared that she’d been diagnosed with cancer after undergoing abdominal surgery in January.

“It was thought that my condition was non-cancerous. The surgery was successful,” she said before noting that tests after the operation found cancer had been present. “My medical team therefore advised that I should undergo a course of preventative chemotherapy and I am now in the early stages of that treatment.”

Stephen Pond/Getty Images

Kate Middleton Apologizes for Edited Family Photo Controversy

After photo agencies pulled the picture Kensington Palace shared of Kate since having her abdominal surgery on March 10, the Princess of Wales addressed claims the photo was doctored. 

“Like many amateur photographers, I do occasionally experiment with editing,” she tweeted on March 11. “I wanted to express my apologies for any confusion the family photograph we shared yesterday caused. I hope everyone celebrating had a very happy Mother’s Day. C.”

Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images

Lady Kitty Spencer Privately Welcomes Baby

Princess Diana‘s niece celebrated Mother’s Day in the U.K. by sharing she and her husband Michael Lewis privately welcomed their first baby.

“It’s the joy of my life to be your mummy, little one. I love you unconditionally,” she captioned her March 10 Instagram post. “Happy Mother’s Day to those who celebrate today.”

Arthur Edwards – WPA Pool/Getty Images

Queen Camilla Takes a Break

After keeping up her full slate of engagements in the wake of her husband’s cancer diagnosis, the palace cleared Camilla’s schedule.

The Times pointed out March 2 that the 76-year-old didn’t have any engagements on her calendar until March 11, when she’d be due at Westminster Abbey to observe Commonwealth Day.

Chris Jackson – WPA Pool/Getty Images

Thomas Kensington Dies at 45

The husband of Lady Gabriella Windsor and ex-boyfriend of Pippa Middleton, was found dead Feb. 25. Days later, a coroner’s inquest found that he died by suicide.

Chris Jackson/Getty Images

King Charles Diagnosed With Cancer

While King Charles III was in the hospital for his benign prostate enlargement procedure, the royal family member was diagnosed with cancer.

“His Majesty has today commenced a schedule of regular treatments, during which time he has been advised by doctors to postpone public-facing duties,” Buckingham Palace said Feb. 5. “Throughout this period, His Majesty will continue to undertake State business and official paperwork as usual.The King is grateful to his medical team for their swift intervention, which was made possible thanks to his recent hospital procedure. He remains wholly positive about his treatment and looks forward to returning to full public duty as soon as possible.”

Stephen Pond/Getty Images

Sarah Ferguson Is Diagnosed With a Second Type of Cancer

The Duchess of York’s rep said in a statement on Jan. 21 that Sarah was recently diagnosed with malignant melanoma, an aggressive form of skin cancer. Several months prior, she underwent a single mastectomy to treat breast cancer.

KELD NAVNTOFT/Ritzau Scanpix/AFP via Getty Images

Queen Margrethe II of Denmark Abdicates the Throne

On Jan. 14, Queen Margrethe II of Denmark made history as she officially abdicated the throne, handing the crown over to her son, now known as King Frederik the 10th

Samir Hussein/WireImage

Kate Middleton Is Hospitalized

Kensington Palace announced on Jan. 17 that Kate Middleton underwent planned abdominal surgery and was set to remain in the hospital for 10 to 14 days.

“Based on the current medical advice,” the Palace said, “she is unlikely to return to public duties until after Easter.”

Joe Giddens/PA Images via Getty Images

Prince William Adjusting His Schedule

Amid Kate’s recovery, Prince William postponed a number of engagements as he supported his family, including the couple’s three children, Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis.

WPA Pool / Pool (Getty)

King Charles III Undergoing Treatment

Shortly after Kate’s hospitalization was made public, Buckingham Palace shared that Charles “has sought treatment for an enlarged prostate.”

“His Majesty’s condition is benign and he will attend hospital next week for a corrective procedure,” the statement added. “The King’s public engagements will be postponed for a short period of recuperation.”

Arnold Jerocki/WireImage

Luxembourg Welcomes a New Baby

Princess Claire and Prince Felix of Luxembourg welcomed son Balthazar Felix Karl on Jan. 7, the first royal baby of the New Year!

(This story was originally published Tuesday, May 2, 2020, at 11 p.m. PT)

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