As the world waits to get the first glimpse of Baby Sussex, attention turns to where the family could make a life together, writes Ellen Barry of the New York Times.
After the camera crews have packed up, and Baby Sussex is no longer driving the news cycle, where will we be able to find the charismatic young family?
If the British newspapers have it right, the answer is: Africa.
A series of reports last month suggested that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and their infant son may be dispatched by the palace for a stint in Africa, where they would serve as ambassadors to Britain's 53 Commonwealth nations.
The Times of London reported that the assignment might keep them away from Britain for "two or three years," but Harper's Bazaar, a few days later, dialled it down to "a few months."
Buckingham Palace has not confirmed or denied either report.
This sort of assignment has been given to royals before, and it serves two purposes: to shore up the Commonwealth, a voluntary group - including New Zealand - chiefly made up of former colonies that has been one of Queen Elizabeth's lifelong projects; and to occupy royals who want a break from the goldfish bowl of the royal palaces, or prove too attention-grabbing or too restless.
"My personal view is that anything to steer them toward Commonwealth things, as opposed to Oprah Winfrey, is a good idea," said Hugo Vickers, who has written biographies of several members of the royal family, including the queen's mother.
"If I were arranging the calendars of Prince Harry and Prince William, I would have them travelling in the Commonwealth all the time," he said. "It's not so much getting them out of the way, it's more harnessing them to something."
As Vickers suggests, the Sussexes have not slipped gracefully into a second-fiddle role behind Harry's brother, Prince William, and William's wife, the former Kate Middleton.
From bride to bump to baby: A year of Meghan, Duchess of Sussex
The Duchess of Sussex, who was known as Meghan Markle when she worked as an actress, is a megawatt celebrity in her own right, and shows no sign of embracing the "never complain, never explain" mantra favoured by the queen. Harry startled traditionalists by announcing plans to make a television documentary with Oprah Winfrey. A more disruptive factor was a rumoured feud between Harry and his older brother, which fuelled tabloid speculation for weeks.
The notion of dispatching the Sussexes as the envoys to Africa has provoked all sorts of reactions.
Trevor Phillips, co-author of "Windrush," a history of West Indian immigration to Britain, called it an "open-and-shut brilliant notion."
"More than any group or pair of individuals, they symbolise leaving behind the colonial inheritance," said Phillips, whose parents moved to Britain from British Guiana. "If you want to obliterate that history, you can't make it go away by saying, 'We're not like that anymore.' You have to create a new narrative. What the Sussexes will do is create a narrative that is about modernity and glamour and diversity."
Kehinde Andrews, a professor of black studies at Birmingham City University, was not as enthusiastic, shrugging off the Commonwealth as "just the remnants of the British Empire."
"They send her out to the dark parts of the world to shore up the Commonwealth," he said. "Using Meghan Markle as part of a PR campaign to maintain those links is the worst possible outcome."
He said most Britons have never confronted the role the African slave trade played in the empire's history, regarding slavery as "something distant, both time-wise and geographically."
"Having said that, it might actually work," he added, recalling how fond his Jamaican grandmother was of Queen Elizabeth.
The Commonwealth is a loose-knit organisation of nations that evolved out of the British Empire, and home to 2.4 billion people, mostly in Asia and Africa. While critics shrug it off as an anachronism, its supporters view it as a promising trading platform, held together by shared values, similar legal systems and the fidelity of Britain's former colonies.
The Commonwealth has particular importance for supporters of Britain's departure from the European Union, known as Brexit, who see it as a more natural set of partners than the bloc, and argue for deeper trade and immigration partnerships.
But palace officials have fretted, in recent years, that Britain's position in the group will erode after the death of Elizabeth, its leader for 60 years.
Last year, the palace pushed through a plan to make Prince Charles, the heir to the throne, her successor as its leader.
Sixteen countries in the Commonwealth are designated as realms, meaning that the queen remains the head of state. Several among them — Australia and Jamaica are two — have active republican movements that could conceivably push through referendums to phase out the monarchy.
A greater worry, Vickers said, is the withdrawal of countries from the Commonwealth.
"The queen doesn't mind not being queen of those countries," he said, "but she does mind very much if they come out of the Commonwealth."
Personal popularity can turn back the tide of republicanism, said John Warhurst, a longtime leader of the Australian Republican Movement. He said a large slice of Australia's population, perhaps as much as 10 per cent, had set aside their opposition to the monarchy because they felt such affection for Queen Elizabeth.
The visits from the younger members of the family aim, he said, to build a similar warmth.
He called Harry and Meghan "the second wave."
"We've been through the William and Kate phenomenon," he said. "We've been through a deluge of babies."
In 2014, when Prince William and his wife brought their then 8-month-old son, George, to Australia, newspapers dubbed him the "Republican Slayer," and opinion polls showed that support for the monarchy was at its highest point in 35 years.
"It's not happening spontaneously, it's happening strategically," Warhurst said. "This has been a process of selling the young royals to the colonies — the realms, whatever you call them — for a long, long time."
Written by: Ellen Barry
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