The baby Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are expecting this spring will be born with a silver spoon in his or her mouth, and maybe a fist thrust in the air, wailing for gender equality.
From Princess Diana’s AIDS awareness campaign to Markle’s women’s rights advocacy and Harry’s wildlife conservation efforts, the newest royal comes from a family devoted to benevolent causes and is being born at a time when it seems you’re never too young to champion social consciousness.
A pregnant Markle, speaking in March on an International Women’s Day panel at King’s College, London, addressed the likelihood that gender equality will be as much a part of the child’s life as the ABCs.
“I’d seen this documentary on Netflix about feminism and one of the things they said during pregnancy was ‘I feel the embryonic kicking of feminism’,” Markle said. “I love that. So boy or girl or whatever it is, we hope that that’s the case, with our little bump.”
The royal family for years has backed charities with social causes, and Queen Elizabeth has been patron or president of more than 600 charities, ranging from wildlife groups and sporting bodies to military organizations.
Royals experts say Meghan may risk the Queen’s ire if she stays the social advocacy course she set long ago. While royal family members are ostensibly allowed to champion causes, a deeper dive into activism hazards crossing the line from benignity to politics – and crossing swords with Queen Elizabeth.
Still, it’s doubtful Meghan will muzzle herself when it comes to her most impassioned causes or slow her drive even while pushing a pram.
Harry and his elder brother William have followed in the footsteps of their mother Diana, whose work with AIDS and HIV patients and tackling landmines won global attention. In 2017, the princes led a campaign to erase the stigma of mental health illness and spoke of their personal struggle following their mother’s death in a Paris car crash in 1997.
“It has even been quoted reportedly as saying, you know, he does it to make his mom proud,” said New York based child, adolescent, and adult psychiatrist and emotional wellness educational program developer and consultant, Dr. Byron Young.
“I think having the exposure the socialization the kind of modeling from your parents to do that, kids are paying attention, kids are, you know, are kind of absorbing that in and they see what you take a delight in and often want to take delight in that same thing,” Dr. Young added.
The foundation, which the princes run with their wives, advocates for combating cyber bullying, helping young people, wildlife conservation, supporting the military and other causes.
Experts say it’s likely their child will follow in their charitable footsteps.
“You’ve got to knight your kids with responsibility. What does it mean to be compassionate and considerate? What does it mean to be empathetic? What does it mean to share your toys. All of those things are the building blocks for how we exist in the world tomorrow and as adults. You have a lot of adults who did not have to share their toys and it shows,” said Mahogany Browne, a Brooklyn-based poet and author of “Woke Baby,” a baby board book encouraging the littlest progressives to toddle in pursuit of social justice.
A key to raising a righteous royal is ensuring that charity is undertaken for genuinely philanthropic reasons rather than for propping up an ego.
“You want to fight against authenticity,” said Browne.
“We want people to work as a global citizen not because it’s an obligation, but because it’s right, because it’s just, because it’s fair. And if we are always working in that vein then there’s never a moment where we feel like we’re giving up something. Where we’re sacrificing our happiness for someone else’s happiness. It just is a part of our growth and it’s a part of our legacy.”