COMMENT:

Let's all spare a thought for a man named Chris Jackson right now. As Getty's longtime royal photographer, he would usually, in the countdown to the imminent arrival of a royal baby, be preparing to stake out the Lindo Wing of St Mary's Hospital in London.

But the Duchess of Sussex is a very different royal and this is a very different pregnancy. We don't know where or when she is likely to go into labour or what might happen after that. Will it be a home birth? A water birth? Will she be in London or Windsor? Just what is Chris Jackson meant to do with himself?

As the world waits with bated breath, the only thing we can say with any certainty is Harry and Meghan want the press and the public nowhere near any of it. They have gone to unprecedented lengths to deny the media any skerrick of information about what they have planned or what might come to pass.

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Meghan and Harry will welcome their first baby any day now. Photo / AP
Meghan and Harry will welcome their first baby any day now. Photo / AP

On some level, this is understandable. Harry and Meghan want to get to enjoy their first hours as a family without the trauma of a 1001 flashes going off and without contending with the mania of the flock of hardcore royalists dressed entirely in Union Jack outfits who linger outside the Lindo Wing.

The best guess anyone can make right now is that Harry and Meghan will release the first image of their bubba via their hotly watched Instagram — #Family #Blessed.

However, totally refusing to let the media play any role or the public to have any access during their baby's arrival is a grave miscalculation.

For one thing, their current policy of zero information and no planned photocalls just means the media will stake out more royal residences, hospitals, doula collectives and aromatherapy studios in the hope of staying on top of Meghan's movements before and after the birth.

Secondly, by keeping people in the dark, Meghan and Harry are actually stoking public curiosity.

Ironically their strategy to minimise intrusion might actually do the exact opposite and only amplify the press and public interest.

The family photo outside the hospital has become a tradition. Photo / Getty Images
The family photo outside the hospital has become a tradition. Photo / Getty Images

If Meghan and Harry are in any doubt, they need look no further than their good mates George and Amal Clooney.

When Amal gave birth to twins Ella and Alexander in 2017, the couple didn't release an official shot.

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Did that result in the press giving them privacy and leaving them alone? Nope — in fact, the paparazzi were so desperate to get a shot, several of them scaled the wall of the Clooney's Lake Como palazzo and took unauthorised snaps of the six-week old babies in their parents' arms.

George and Amal Clooney tried a similar tactic and it backfired spectacularly. Photo / Getty Images
George and Amal Clooney tried a similar tactic and it backfired spectacularly. Photo / Getty Images

Now let me be clear — the Amal situation was a breach of privacy and the new parents were totally in the right to protect their twin babies. But it does illustrate that extreme lengths that photographers will go to get THE shot.

That hunger is only going to be greater in Harry and Meghan's case.

By denying the media the chance to take a snap in an orderly, structured way, Harry and Meghan are unwittingly giving them license to rampage across Windsor, doing anything and everything possible to try and secure an image. Can you imagine the drones, long lenses and CIA-worthy technology that is going to be employed in the race to secure the first photo of the bub?

Cast your mind back to the three times that Kate, blow-dried to within an inch of her life, fronted the media with Wills after the arrivals of each of her tots. She was most likely wearing gauze underpants under those lovely frocks and still in some pain however I am starting to think these photo calls were a media masterstroke rather than sheer madness.

Firstly, she gave the press and the people what they wanted. A lovely look at her lovely baby! It might be uncomfortable to admit but the British people do have some claim to royal babies — they are possessive of the newest arrivals and desperately want to be a part of the glorious event.

Wills and Kate posed for the press after all three of their kids. Photo / Getty Images
Wills and Kate posed for the press after all three of their kids. Photo / Getty Images

Secondly, by satiating the media, she denied them any leeway to hound the new family afterwards. If the media had followed the Cambridges once they had taken their baby home the public would have excoriated them.

Whether it was a conscious bargain or simply a courtesy, in the weeks and months after that first photocall, the Cambridges got a significant reprieve from media coverage.

Harry and Meghan might be desperate for solitude and peace as they become parents for the first time but I fear their blackout strategy is going to dramatically misfire. Just let Chris Jackson do his job — it will be much easier in the long run.

Daniela Elser is a royal expert and freelance writer.