Prince Harry and I have quite a lot in common. We’re both ginger, we’re both married to American women vastly better-looking than us and neither of us is very good at fancy dress. We’re both the youngest sibling, nobody quite understands what either of us do for a living, and we’ve both occasionally embarrassed our families by being way, way too pissed.
I’m about a year-and-a-half older than he is, but my baby is also about a year-and-a-half older than his will be. Whoah! We’re basically the same person, but time-shifted by 18 months and a family net worth of 88 billion pounds. That’s a tiny difference though, we’re pretty much identical.
As long as nobody was paying too much attention – and very little attention is paid to me, so we’re halfway there – we could do a Prince and Pauper thing and switch places. He’s about five inches taller, so I’d have to invest in some stilts, and he’d have to keep his beard grown out and get some glasses.
Other than that, peas in a pod. With that in mind, nobody is better qualified to walk through what Harry’s experience of early fatherhood will be like than me.
Sleep (Or The Lack Of It)
The lack of sleep when you have a new baby can be a real killer. The notion of a full night’s sleep basically goes completely out of the window. Thing is, the other two people in the room have just given birth or been given birth to, so figuring out how to at least put a few meals together when you’re so sleepy you don’t know your name suddenly becomes a valuable skill.
Harry might have a bit of a head start here. He’s bound to be good at dealing with jetlag after a lifetime of traveling all over the world, and his experiences in the Armed Forces probably mean he’s fairly good at getting by on not much sleep. Plus he doesn’t have a job, of course, which is bound to be pretty conducive to the occasional lie-in on a golden bed of swan feathers.
There’s probably usually someone around to make him a coffee, and all, so he won’t get all confused like I did once and pour milk into the kettle from being so knackered, or start crying in Tesco because it all feels like too much.
There’s pretty much no limit to how much you can end up spending when you have a child on the way – by the time you’ve shelled out for a pram, car seat, side-sleeper, crib, clothes, bibs, toys, books and the rest, you’ve spend a small fortune.
Luckily, Harry’s brother has had kids, so probably has a bunch of second-hand stuff he can hand down, and while there might be some things he wants to buy new, for a lot of what you need you can find some great stuff on eBay. Hang on, whoops, forgot for a second there – yep, they’re impossibly wealthy, aren’t they, they’re fine.
Weird Existential Dread
Having a child is mad – a person suddenly exists that is entirely dependent on you and your partner. Looking at a little face staring up at you (or sometimes sort of at nothing because, especially at the beginning, babies aren’t that bright), a face that looks like both you and the person you fell in love with, except more, and perfect, and so unimaginably beautiful that the world at once makes sense and becomes more confusing, because suddenly you care more than you ever cared before, and love more than you ever loved before, and realise that your life is not your own anymore because you exist to make this person happy and keep them safe, and that you know less than you thought you knew, but know so certainly that you will do anything for this tiny person, anything they need, and you will shelter them and feed them and protect them and teach them and love them, sure is nuts!
But, Harry comes from a family that literally owns the country they (and we) live in, which is completely absurd – so maybe he’s used to big ideas.
The royals do a lot of travelling, so Harry and Meghan are going to want to get their baby’s passport sorted pretty swiftly. Luckily, the family are handily located for it. If they wander up the road a bit from Kate and Will’s at Kensington Palace, they can hop on the 702 to Victoria (or Great-Great-Great-Grandmother, as they probably call it).
Manoeuvering a pram on to a bus can be a bit fiddly the first first few times, but you get used to it. The passport office is pretty nice – Harry’s gran might have reopened it a few years ago, thinking about it – and there’s a pretty nice pub around the corner if they fancy a pint afterwards.
Better go to Snappy Snaps for passport photos on the way. I think there’s a booth there, but (a) babies are pretty much horizontal so getting someone to take the picture top-down will get a better result, and (b) you know what these places are like, they know they’ve got you trapped, they’ll fleece ya.
They might want to get dual citizenship, given Markle’s Americanness, in which case a visit to the US Embassy is in order. I might be misremembering this, but I think phone reception in there is really crap, so it’s worth sticking a book in the nappy bag before leaving the palace, or pick up Viz on the way.
When they go on holiday, Meghan has a US passport and Harry is British, so sometimes at the airport it can be tricky knowing which queue to join, the UK/EU one or the Rest Of the World one. Pro tip: while your baby is little and cute, just join the shorter one, it’ll be fine – they’ll smile and allow it, unless it’s that one guy in Stansted who was really mean to me.
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Statutory paternity leave maxes out at two weeks and £290 (another money thing to think about and plan for), and then it’s back to the grindstone. I took two weeks of holiday as well, which depending on whether Harry and Meghan have any trips booked, they might want to do. Going back to work afterwards is strange and horrible. You feel guilty about leaving your baby, but also secretly relieved, but then guilty about that relief, plus so tired you don’t really know what’s going on. It’ll vary from job to job of course. I was working at a media company that made me redundant four months later, and Harry is... oh yeah. He doesn’t need to worry about this.
Maybe we’re slightly more different than I thought.