4d. Royalty 2019


Prince Harry jokes troops are ‘weirdos’ for Valentine’s Day ‘shrine’ of Meghan inside igloo

The Duke of Sussex visited Exercise Clockwork in Bardufoss, Norway

The Duke of Sussex has celebrated Valentine’s Day 200 miles inside the Arctic Circle, in an igloo decorated with photographs from his wedding. The Duke, who made a flying visit to Bardufoss in north Norway without the Duchess, was greeted with candles, mood music and pictures of his May ceremony as he was shown around a snug snow shelter used by the military to survive in the extreme cold. Checking that the British troops stationed at the base had remembered to send cards and flowers to their wives at home, he teased them about getting into trouble as he reminisced about his days as a pilot. In a three hour visit, in his role as Captain General Royal Marines, he admitted he misses his days as an Apache helicopter pilot as he was shown Commando Helicopter Force train to survive in the extreme cold weather. For 50 years, the Navy, Army and Air force have been undertaking training in Bardufoss to provide aviation support to those who operate and fight in temperatures as low as -30C in what is known as Exercise Clockwork. The Duke landed in a charter plane flown directly from the UK in temperatures of around -10C, greeted by Richard Wood, the British ambassador in Norway, Lt Col Dave West, officer commanding Exercise Clockwork, Lt Col Andy Walker, the UK defence attache, and Col Eirik Stueland, Bardufoss station commander. Taken inside immediately for a briefing, he met senior personnel from the base before sitting down for a lesson in the history of Exercise Clockwork and a video of the The Duke of Sussex in the igloomodern day training programme. It included footage of servicemen undergoing their grueling ice water plunge, which sees them drop through a hole in the ice into freezing water to learn how to climb out again. Afterwards, the Duke joined the troops for a hot buffet lunch in the mess, away from the cameras so he could meet men and women of all ranks to speak frankly. As the snow fell, he was then invited to inspect the four-man, ten-man and 16-man tents used during training, with avalanche rescue gear and a 45kg Bergen backpack ready for inspection. Spotting Chris Anderson, a corporal in the RAF, dressed in a white, snow-camoflaged suit over his uniform with a mask, the Duke joked: “You look as though you’re loving it.”  Inside a tent, he was invited to lift the heavy bag containing rations, emergency clothing, snow shovel, survival knives, hot flask, cooking equipment and sleeping bags, torch, goggles and gloves. “I’d like to but I’m not sure…” he said, making a quick attempt before dropping it. “When you’re out here, what do you guys look forward to the most?” he asked, quizzing servicemen on how long they had served and how long they are based in Norway. “Look after yourself,” he told them. “How’s morale been?” he asked, before indulging in some military banter as Captain General Royal Marines by joking: “The RAF guys will be struggling the most, will they?” Referring to his own time in the army, where he served as an Apache pilot, he empathised with the need to constantly update their training, usually waiting until it was down to the last moment to do so.

The Duke was then invited inside the Quincey Shelter, a version of an igloo dug out and used in emergencies to stay alive in the snow. This time, the shelter had been decked out to welcome Prince Harry, with pictures of the Royal Wedding printed out and pinned on the walls, candles and ambient mood music. Spotting the photographs, the Duke laughed: “You weirdos! Nice. It’s very kind of you to invite into your The picture of the Duke and his wife on his wedding day inside the iglooprivate, err, shrine,” he added, proclaiming it “romantic”. “Homely in there isn’t it,” he said, as he stepped out into the fresh air. “It starts to get a little bit weird after a while.” “They’re not always that comfortable,” he was told. Sergeant Ads Lesley said the Duke had asked some practical questions about the shelters, before moving on to personal questions about the troops’ welfare. “He was really keen to engage,” he said. “He asked if they had got their girlfriends or wives or partners flowers for Valentine’s Day – he was keen to make sure no-one was in trouble. “He liked to compare what we’re doing out here, how amazing it is, with what we’re doing back in the UK. He was really happy that we’re in a beautiful environment and to see how happy we are. “There was a little light humour: he saw people in sleeping bags and said ‘oh, have you just woken up?” In the shelter, Sgt Lesley said, “he had a smile on his face. We had some chill-out music on, just to show how creative you can be.” The wedding photo decorations, he said, seemed “almost a bit of a shock” for the Duke, who “had a chuckle to himself”. Moving into a large hanger, where the Wildcat and Apache helicopters were on show alongside their pilots, the Duke confessed: “I miss my pilot days.” “How is it?” he asked young pilots, noticing they were reticent. “You can be honest with me. I’m not going to get anything out of you, am I? Guys, well done. Make the most of it.”

Major Huw Raikes, from the Army Air Corps, said the Duke had spoken of how he misses flying the aircraft. “It was a fun period for him,” he said. “He misses the experience he had flying it, he misses the brotherhood. It’s quite poignant to have him here, he’s got a very special relationship with the Army Air Corps.” Offered a chance to get in, the Duke resigned himself to patting the Apache fondly before moving on to meet the teams with the Wildcat and, back outside in the snow, the Merlin. “Did you all get your other halves a card and some flowers?” Duke of Sussex speaks with British and Norwegian troops Prince Harry checked, as he was introduced to a group of Royal Navy and Royal Marine personnel. Mock-grimacing, he added: “There were a few guys out there who said they don’t bother any more…” Before leaving, the Duke was asked to cut a cake celebrating the 50th anniversary of Exercise Clockwork, which featured a helicopter made from rice crispies and marshmallows. Quizzing Leading Chef Matt Roberts, he learned the troops in Bardufoss had a larger daily food budget to account for the extra calories they need in the cold, joking: “No wonder you’re all so happy.” Wielding a sword, he ceremonially cut the cake, shouting “Happy Birthday” to dozens of men and women gathered in the hanger.”It’s really nice to see you all and know that you’re having a good time out here,” he told them. “Use every single day as an experience, and bring that back. I hope you can make the most of it. “I know lots of you have left your families at home to be out here. It’s hugely appreciated. And you still have a smile on your face.  Congratulations on your 50th anniversary.” After the three hour visit, the Duke climbed back into the small charter plane to fly home: back at Kensington Palace in time for the Valentine’s dinner. Prince Harry’s trip marked the 50th anniversary of Commando Helicopter Force and Joint Helicopter Command deploying to the remote base, where military personnel are taught how to survive, operate and fight in the sub-zero conditions, as well as gaining experience of operating aircraft in severe cold weather and mountainous environments. The multinational exercise, hosted by the Norwegian Armed Forces, comprises environmental flying qualifications, cold weather survival, and snow and ice driving courses. The Duke was appointed Captain General Royal Marines in December 2017, taking over the role from his grandfather the Duke of Edinburgh, who held the appointment for 64 years.

Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex (left) during a visit to Exercise Clockwork in Bardufoss, NorwayThe Duke already has experience of colder climates, facing temperatures as low as -35C on charity expeditions to the North Pole in 2011 and South Pole in 2013 with Walking With The Wounded. Lieutenant Colonel David West, Officer Commanding Exercise Clockwork, said: “We are celebrating 50 years of Exercise Clockwork today and are honoured to be able to welcome the Captain General of the Royal Marines to Bardufoss to mark the occasion. “Clockwork continues to deliver vital training for our people. It provides essential experience in flying and surviving in the extreme cold hundreds of miles inside the Arctic Circle. “For 50 years Commando Helicopter Force and its predecessors have operated in this region and the skills learnt here are more relevant than ever.”


How Prince Philip reacted to crash – before ending a lifelong passion

It was a surreal moment by royal standards, made even odder by the events that followed. Strolling into the office of the Queen’s private secretary, Edward Young, Prince Philip appeared uncharacteristically unsettled. “Have you got a plaster?” asked the 97-year-old Duke. “I’ve cut my hand”. Swiftly dispatching the former naval officer with a Band Aid, it was not until later that Young apparently discovered the cause of HRH’s injury. Until that point, the Iron Duke had not deemed it pertinent to mention that he had just been pulled out of his overturned Land Rover and was lucky to be alive. Almost a month on from those extraordinary events of February 17, a revealing picture emerges of the House of Windsor’s resident ‘Duke of Hazard’, who yesterday learned he will not face prosecution over the crash near the Sandringham estate. It came after the great-grandfather voluntarily gave up his driving licence following a collision between his Freelander and a Kia on the A149 at Prince Philip car crash scene near Sandringham. The Telegraph has since learned that despite narrowly escaping serious injury, the Duke genuinely had no idea who was in the other car, or whether anyone had been hurt until the press later reported that passenger Emma Fairweather had broken her wrist. As he later explained in his apologetic letter to the 46-year-old from Norfolk, admitting that he had been blinded by the sunlight: “As a crowd was beginning to gather, I was advised to return to Sandringham House by a local police officer.” Yet it appears it was some time before palace aides or the press office became aware of the true extent of the crash, which was only briefed out after members of the public sent images to the media. The official statement simply read: “The Duke of Edinburgh was involved in a road traffic accident with another vehicle this afternoon. The Duke was not injured. The accident took place close to the Sandringham Estate. Local police attended the scene.” As one source put it: “They played it down because the Duke played it down.” According to veteran royal reporter Phil Dampier, author of Prince Philip: A Lifetime of Wit and Wisdom: “Had the crash had occurred on a lonely country road and no footage emerged, we’d probably never have found out about it.” Not that Philip wasn’t contrite. On the contrary, as well as being “genuinely shaken up” by the crash – he was also “furious with himself”, according to insiders. Determined not to lose his cherished independence – he took to the wheel the very next day – without wearing a seatbelt – in a bid to prove that he was still up to it – despite his hip replacement, spectacles and hearing aid. Land Rover keep “spare” royal cars in case of accidents and break-downs, which is why he ended up back behind the wheel so quickly. “It wasn’t defiance,” said one onlooker. “It was more an act of determination.” So cross was Philip with himself that it is understood his concerned children and grandchildren were warned not to make a fuss, which perhaps explains why Princess Anne said she had “no idea” how her father was when she was asked at a royal engagement two days later. Nor were they to even entertain the idea of the nonagenarian giving up his licence “for fear it might make him dig in his heels even more”, according to a source. The Queen – who after 71 years of marriage has grown well used to her husband’s stubborn streak – also knew better than to press the issue. The royal author Sarah Bradford once gave an insight into who has really been in the driving seat throughout their marriage when she described an occasion when Philip was driving the Queen through Cowdray Park in West Sussex for a polo match with his uncle Lord Mountbatten in the back. Bradford said: “The Queen complained about him driving too fast and and he turned to her and said: ‘If you complain once more I will put you out of the car.’ “The Queen said nothing and when the journey came to an end Mountbatten said: ‘You’re the Queen, why did you let him talk to you like that? “She replied : ‘Oh you heard what he said and he would have done it!’” In the end, the Duke’s reluctant mind was made up following advice from the police suggesting that surrendering his licence was the best way to avoid prosecution. Until the crash happened, it’s fair to say that HM’s “strength and stay” had had a rather cavalier attitude to motoring. On the eve of his wedding to the beautiful young Princess Elizabeth in 1947 he was stopped for speeding on Constitution Hill just beside Buckingham Palace. “Sorry, but I’ve got an appointment with the Archbishop of Canterbury” he told the incredulous policeman, who let him off with a warning. During the two years they lived in Malta, he would roar around the narrow lanes of the Mediterranean Island in a sporty MG with the top down. Such was his love of driving that he insisted on driving US President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle  from their helicopter to Windsor Castle when they came to visit in 2016. The Obamas secret service minders were said to be “terrified” when a then 94-year-old Philip took the wheel but Obama said later : “I have to say I have never been driven by a Duke of Edinburgh before, but I can report it was very smooth.” The Duke’s crash last month was also not his first. He left sales director Pat Daynes with whiplash after his Range Rover went into the back of a Mercedes at a zebra crossing in Brandon, Suffolk, in January 1996. But he has also been a knight in shining armour at the road-side. In the early 1970s he was on holiday at a remote cottage near the Inverpolly Nature Reserve 80 miles from Inverness in Scotland. He was driving on a lonely road with local naturalist Rob Tweddle when they came across a Morris Minor stuck in a ditch. Two astonished female teachers looked on as Philip and Mr Tweddle lifted the car back onto the road. Mr Tweddle recalled in a 2011 article: “Philip told them ‘Now don’t do that again’ before we drove off, leaving them open-mouthed.” Although he may have come to the end of the road as a motorist, sources insist Philip will continue to ride carriages and spent his summers waist-high in freezing water fishing for salmon in the River Dee. Dampier added: “I honestly think that the hip operation -which enabled him to attend both Harry and Meghan’s wedding and that of Princess Eugenie to Jack Brooksbank last year – might mean he lives to 100. When he went home from hospital I know he was walking up and down stairs and doing exercises to regain his fitness. He has always been a fitness fanatic, doing exercise daily devised by the Canadian Air Force. His figure is the same as it’s always been – meaning he has some trousers fifty years old! He might have given up driving – but the Duke of Hazard will never give up doing things his way.”


By royal appointment? Prince Harry and the rise of jewellery for men

The Duke of Sussex wearing a chunky ring and bracelet

The roving Eye of Sauron that lasers in on the Duchess of Sussexand every nuance of her style rarely comes to rest on her beau, a certain chap who’s sixth in line to the throne. This is partly because Prince Harry – as with most men of the royal household – toes the path classic and familiar with regards to his style. Which is as it should be; no-one expects the Duke of Sussex to embrace Gucci’s directional new florals. But there’s one glitch in the matrix with Prince Harry – aside the classic Savile Row tailoring when on duty and standard shirts and chinos on his down-time, he likes a touch of jewellery. Attending the Commonwealth Youth Roundtable last night at Pall Mall’s Lancaster House, the Duke opted for a striking black and gold bracelet, as well as a black ring on his right hand. This ring has been something of a feature in the past – it’s been reported it’s a sleep tracker by wellness brand Oura – and acts as a counterbalance to his wedding band, a minimalist platinum design by court jewelers Cleave & Company. The bracelet has been a feature of his wardrobe since his days at Eton, cropping up at the polo as a late teen and in Africa in his 20s. It’s all the more telling that the Duke opts to wear these decorative pieces in a formal set up, with an elegant black suit and ice blue. Granted, his jewellery clearly has meaning for him – he has long worn beaded bracelets that signify his love of Africa – while his father has been known to wear the same signet ring for decades. Which – as a glut of male contestants arrive for Tom Wood new series of Shipwrecked decked in cork necklaces – begs the question; should men’s jewellery be entering your wardrobe any time soon? For the naysayers – and I put myself front and foremost of that crowd  – it’s worth considering that men’s jewellery is historically the most aristocratic and establishment type of dress. Signet rings were an integral part of noble lineage long before men’s jewellery became synonymous with Boogie Nights and, later, the cool young waifs of east London. Perhaps to tackle it best is to take it back to those more stately examples. A host of brands now create signet rings in minimalist, pared-back designs instead of the florid and ornate versions of old. That less-is-more approach should parlay into bracelets too. Invest in masculine and discreet versions in sleek steel or rhodium that will complement slate-shaded suits, as opposed to beaded numbers that make you look as if you’ve just landed from your gap year (sorry, your Royal Highness). And that should be the extent of your jewellery drawer – necklaces dangling across tropical print shirts, earrings at Coachella and ankle bracelets should be kept firmly for the millennials and their #summerstyle.


The Duke of Sussex pips the Queen to take ‘Most Popular Royal’ crown, according to survey

Prince Harry at a dedication of the Colo-i-Suva forest to the Queen's Commonwealth Canopy in SuvaPrince Harry is the most popular royal, according to a new You Gov survey. The Duke of Sussex beats the Queen to first place, with 77 per cent of the public having a positive opinion about the father-to-be, ahead of 74 per cent for the monarch. Prince William is in third place with 73 per cent. The Duchess of Cambridge is the second most popular woman in the Royal Family, with 64 per cent, while the Duchess of Sussex came sixth with an approval rating of 55 per cent – a percentage point less than 97-year-old Prince Philip, in fifth. Kate proved more popular with both men and woman than Meghan, with 72 per cent of women and 55 per cent of men approving compared to 61 per cent and 50 per cent for the former American actress. Baby boomers prefer Princess Anne to both of the younger Duchesses, with 68 per cent of over 55s approving compared to 64 per cent for Kate and 51 per cent for Meghan. While William’s wife may be more popular than Harry’s, the brothers’ own popularity is not based on their rank in the royal pecking order with the Duke of Sussex proving more popular than his older brother. Eighty six per cent of women and 69 per cent of men approved of Harry, with just seven per cent of The Duchess of Sussex and Queen Elizabeth II laugh during their first engagement together in June, where they attended a ceremony to open the new Mersey Gateway bridge. having a negative opinion of either Harry or William, compared to nine per cent who disapproved of the Queen and Kate, and 10 per cent who didn’t like Meghan. While Harry was the most popular royal among women, the Queen was the most popular among men, with 71 per cent approving. Both princes were much more popular than their father, Prince Charles, who marks his 70th birthday on Wednesday. Almost half of the nation (48 per cent) said they had a positive opinion of the heir to the throne, putting him in seventh place overall. A further 20 per cent have a negative view of him, while 30 per cent have a neutral view. Charles’s wife Camilla is far less popular than he is. Only 29 per cent of Brits have a favourable view of the Duchess of Cornwall, putting her 10th on the list of 15. The 36 per cent of people who say they dislike her is the joint-highest of any member of the royal family – putting her popularity on a par with her brother in law, Prince Andrew. Princess Anne came eighth on 47 per cent, followed by her daughter Zara Phillips on  43 per cent. The Countess of Wessex came 11th in the popularity poll on 28 per cent followed by her husband Prince Edward on 27 per cent. Sophie Wessex proved to be the least famous royal with only 74 per cent of the public having heard of her compared to 99 per cent who recognised Prince William – regarded as the “most famous” royal of all. Princess Beatrice proved slightly more popular than her younger sister Princess Eugenie on 25 per cent and 24 per cent respectively while the Duke of York came bottom of the league in 15th place with an approval rating of 22 per cent.


Duchess of Sussex writes messages of support on bananas for sex workers

Messages of support written by the Duchess of Sussex 

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex also visited the Old Vic theatreThe Duchess of Sussex has written personal messages of empowerment and support for vulnerable sex workers on a series of bananas to be delivered to them on the streets. The Duchess, who visited a charity which helps women break free from sex work, homelessness and addiction, resolved to send a personal, handwritten message to those in need. During a tour of the kitchen at One25, a charity in Bristol, she was seized with inspiration, asking for a felt tipped pen to draw hearts and notes, including the words: “You are strong”, “You are loved”, “You are brave”, “You are special”. The fruit, which is part of a food parcel for sex workers, was due to be delivered by van, along with blankets, condoms, hot water bottles and advice from the charity’s experts, to women on the streets. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex visited the charity during a day-long outing to a snowy Bristol, in which they delivered a series of heartfelt messages on subjects form the arts to mental health and grief. At One25, who had asked for the visit to be kept a secret until after the royal couple had left to protect the vulnerable women, they met volunteers, donors, service users and were given a tour of an outreach van which tours the red light district five nights a week. In the kitchen, as they were shown the food bags being prepared, the Duchess said: “Oh actually do you have a Sharpie marker? I have Duchess of Sussex prepares food parcels to go in the charity outreach van and writes personalised messages on fruit in the charity kitchenan idea. “I saw this project this woman had started somewhere in the States on a school lunch programme. On each of the bananas she wrote an affirmation, to make the kids feel really, like, empowered. It was the most incredible idea – this small gesture.” Declaring “I am in charge of the banana messaging!”, she wrote a series of short phrases and decorated the fruit with hearts. It is not the first time the duchess has used bananas to send a message.  Shortly after she began dating Prince Harry’s, she uploaded a photograph of two bananas ‘spooning’, and more recently baked banana bread for farmers during a tour of Australia. One charity volunteer called Sam, who is a former sex worker, said: “I can imagine being on the van, and [ hearing] ‘Meghan wrote this thing, and what?’ I think they might not eat it. I think that banana would be at home until it is rotten. Because I would do the same.” Anna Smith, the charity’s chief executive, told the couple: “The The Duke of Sussex at the Bristol boxing club of our women is often very much misunderstood, and they are stigmatised and hidden from the world.” As she spoke, the duchess spotted that Sam was looking nervous at the prospect of having to talk to the group. She told her: “Sometimes it is the lead-up that makes it more nerve-racking. You go first! It’s like ripping a bandaid off.” Prince Harry, speaking of how vulnerable women can be coerced, said: “When you were being groomed at such a young age, and this is the only thing you know, you completely lose faith in society. You lose trust in every man, and probably everyone else around you. From a mental health perspective you are broken.” They were not the only words of comfort offered by the Duke. In a separate charity visit to Empire Fighting Chance, a boxing club which helps vulnerable youngsters, he cleared a room to comfort a teenage boy who became emotional talking about the death of his father. The Duke of Sussex, who lost his own mother when he was 12 and he previously spoken of how boxing helped his mental health, spent 10 minutes talking privately to 15-year-old Iestyn about processing his grief, telling him: “The same thing happened to me.” The day was completed with a trip to refurbished Bristol Old Vic, where the Duchess made a heartfelt plea for the creative arts. “There’s so much of the emphasis in after school clubs on sport,” she said. “Channeling the energy you have into the creative arts and theatre and all of that is equally as important. “Sport isn’t for everyone, just as theatre isn’t for everyone. “You can know that there’s a place [here] where you can find community, and sort of explore self discovery and other things you might be thinking about.” The Duke told youngsters of drama: “It’s more than a hobby isn’t it? It runs in your blood.” The Duke and Duchess traveled by train, and undertook a walkabout despite the snow-lined streets. Meeting nursery school children, they appeared to be preparing for their impending parenthood as the Duke asked a woman supervising toddlers: “How do you keep them under control?”


The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have arrived in a snow covered Bristol for a day of royal engagements which will begin with the couple meeting the public in the heart of the city.

The royal couple will also tour the Bristol Old Vic theatre and travel to the Empire Fighting Chance, a charity using boxing to support children failing at school. There were fears the visit may be called off because of the Arctic conditions, but organisers of the couple’s first engagement – a visit to the Old Vic, which is undergoing a multimillion-pound restoration – said they were still expecting the duke and duchess. A Bristol Old Vic spokeswoman said: “We are still going ahead so far, there have been no messages to say otherwise.” The Duke and Duchess will be taken on a guided tour of the revamped theatre, which has been entertaining audiences for more than 250 years. During the day the couple will also meet well-wishers on a walkabout and travel to Empire Fighting Chance, a charity using boxing to support children failing at school and in danger of drifting into a life of unemployment or even crime. The Bristol Old Vic was built in 1766 and has a unique place in British theatre history, having nurtured the talents of countless famous actors from Daniel Day-Lewis and Greta Scacchi to Peter O’Toole and Jeremy Irons. Stirling Prize-Duchess of Sussex arrives in Bristol as the snow continues to fallwinning architects Haworth Tompkins led the theatre’s redesign, which includes a full-height timber and glass-fronted foyer that reveals the original auditorium facade to the street for the first time. The internal layout has been transformed, with the restoration of the Georgian Coopers’ Hall, a new studio theatre created in the old barrel vaults and mezzanine galleries. The project is the second stage of a 10-year, £26 million programme to completely overhaul and safeguard the future of the theatre. During the visit, the duke and duchess will drop in on a workshop attended by local schoolchildren, which is part of Bristol Old Vic’s outreach .


Duchess of Sussex ‘planning to give birth on Lindo Wing’ as staff are advised not to take holiday

Staff at the Lindo Wing have been advised not to take holiday in the spring, sparking speculation the Duchess of Sussex plans to have their baby there. Contrary to reports the former American actress plans to give birth on the NHS, she may instead follow in the footsteps of the Duchess of Cambridge, who had her three children at the private maternity unit at St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington. A source told the Telegraph: “Staff at the Lindo Wing have been asked not to take holiday in April. Everyone thinks it’s got something to do with the royal baby but no one is confirming anything.” Although Kensington Palace has only said the royal baby is due in the spring, six-month pregnant Meghan let slip during an engagement in Birkenhead that the baby is due at the end of April or early May. The £6,000-a-night Lindo wing offers a “five-star” birthing experience with expectant mothers accommodated in spacious private rooms with en-suite bathrooms. Patients are invited to pick their meals from lavish a la carte menus – including a wine and champagne list – and are offered a celebratory post-labour afternoon tea. William and Kate praised the staff there following the births of Prince George, 5, Princess Charlotte, 3 and nine-month-old Prince Louis. William and Harry were also born there. The first night in Lindo wing costs £5,900 for the normal delivery package and then every additional night is charged at £1,175. Patients can pay extra for a deluxe package, where the rooms are slightly bigger, which costs £6,275 for the first 24 hours and £1,550 for extra nights. In what was billed as a “snub” to Kate, it had been reported that Meghan, 37, planned to give birth on the NHS at Frimley Park Hospital in Surrey, because it is seven miles closer than the Lindo Wing to Frogmore Cottage in Windsor, where the Sussexes are due to move in the New Year. The hospital does have a royal connection – Sophie, the Countess of Wessex, gave birth to her daughter Lady Louise Windsor there in 2003 after undergoing an emergency cesarean section. Her son, James, Viscount Severn was also born there in 2007. It is not as luxurious as the Lindo Wing. The large labour ward does not offer private care for maternity patients although private postnatal rooms are available at £100-a-night, without en suite facilities. There are 14 labour rooms available on the general ward, which saw 5,350 births from April 2016 to April 2017. Alternatively Meghan could opt for one of the four birthing rooms in The Mulberry Birth Centre, which is more of a “homely environment” where the focus is on “birth without medical intervention”. The rooms have mood-changing lights and a birthing pool is available. Active birthing is encouraged, and rooms come with a bed, chair, a bean bag and an exercise ball available to assist labour. In 2014, Sophie opened the new neonatal unit at Frimley Park Hospital and welled up as she thanked staff for helping her through an ectopic pregnancy which resulted in her losing her first child in 2002. The Countess then almost died giving birth to Louise due to blood loss. Another option for Meghan is London’s Portland Hospital for Women and Children where the Duchess of York gave birth to her daughters, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie. With celebrity clients including Victoria Beckham, the Portland has gained a reputation for being a hospital for pregnant women who are “too posh to push”. The most basic maternity package there starts at £8,000. Kensington Palace declined to comment. Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, which is responsible for the Lindo Wing, did not respond to a request for comment.