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15 October 2018

All the sexist headlines we can expect now that Meghan Markle is pregnant

“Meghan Markle is pregnant with Prince Harry’s first child” is just the start. 

By Glosswitch

Rejoice! The latest vessel for the Royal seed has not been found wanting or, as the Telegraph puts it, “Meghan Markle is pregnant with Prince Harry’s first child”.

Like many, I’m finding this an enormous relief. There are only so many headlines about charity cookbooks a loyal subject can take. Finally, five months since the pair got married and a full half year since the Duchess of Cambridge gave birth to her third, we can get back to the news that really matters: sexist royal pregnancy updates.

The Telegraph has made a strong start on this, with its boldly Aristotelian take on the mechanics of royal reproduction. Meanwhile the Sun is eager to remind us of “the royal pregnancy rules Meghan Markle will have to follow” (no travelling or baby showers, but midwives galore).

Hello! has chosen to regale us with “all the signs that hinted at Duchess Meghan’s pregnancy – from her outfits to her body language”. That’s right, ladies: no wearing of baggy dresses or maintaining of that “signature California-girl glow”, lest anyone should think you’re up the duff. And yes, it may be a mere 17 days since we were all worrying about “the incredible shrinking duchess”, but turns out that’s just what happens when you’re “discreetly using [your] body language to hide any sign of a bump”.

Obviously it’s early days, so there’ll be plenty more where this comes from. There’s nothing like a royal pregnancy to remind women of just how close our status remains to that of brood mare. We’ll be treated to countless analyses of just how well the current gold star uterus is performing. If, however, you just can’t wait, I’ve provided a sneak preview of what’s to come.

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1. Bump watch

Is Meghan too fat? Too thin? Does it depend on whether it’s an odd- or even-numbered day of the month? Kate Middleton, you will recall, was deemed insufficiently bumpy. Then again, the minute George was born, there were complaints that she hadn’t become instantly flat. Let’s hope Markle can overcome basic human biology and do better than her shamefully non-elastic sister-in-law.

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2. Birth plan watch

According to an insider, Meghan hopes to emulate Kate by giving birth naturally and without pain relief. According to another insider, Meghan is going to rip up the royal rule book and use her feminist sass to demand every drug going. I happen to be both these insiders and made up both things just now. I shall be following up both views with op-eds stating that Markle is implicitly judging all mothers who don’t give birth the same way she does, regardless of which way it is.

3. Having-it-all watch

It’s a dilemma all pregnant women face: do I carry on working after having my baby? Admittedly, it’s not that much of a dilemma if you can’t afford not to work/can’t afford childcare/have got the sack for being pregnant anyhow. But let’s at least pretend it’s something all women face, and that we think what royals – but not mothers – do constitutes “a job”. And let’s also pretend the “when shall I go back to work?” dilemma for Meghan could be decided by when her statutory maternity pay runs out, and that employing one nanny rather than, say, seven, constitutes slumming it. Pretend all that and basically Meghan Markle is just like you and me. So prepare for the complex economics of female reproductive labour to be reduced to “what should women do when money is no object” for the next nine months.

4. Pink or blue watch

The Sun has already told us that revealing the sex of the royal foetus is not the done thing. This will not prevent headline writers from transforming themselves into wizened crones proclaiming that this baby will be a girl because the latest turnip crop failed/the sky over Chipping Norton looks ominous/Meghan Markle might have worn something pink on a Tuesday in 2013. This will lead to musings over whether Harry would prefer a chip off the old block to kick around the park or whatever it is you do with sons when you’re posh. The baby will then be a boy or a girl and everyone will say they called it first.

5. Age watch 

Did you know that Meghan Markle is 37? 37! Cutting it a little fine, don’t you think? Luckily for her crossing the boundary from fresh-faced young womanhood into dried-up middle-age hasn’t meant abandoning her dreams of motherhood. Rest assured, though, that we shall see a slew of articles reminding the rest of us not to go getting any ideas that we, too, may have phenomenally successful acting careers and leave it till we’re pushing 40 before marrying princes and gestating the seventh in line to the throne. Such things are best done around the age of 25 and three quarters. Don’t leave it too late!

6. Looking better than other pregnant women watch

How does Meghan Markle do it? Just past her first trimester and looking like a Hollywood star! What’s her secret? And no, it’s not “already being a Hollywood star before she got pregnant”. It’s having the grit and determination not to use being pregnant as some flimsy excuse not look 100 per cent perfect all the time. Hopefully we’ll see lots of pieces recommending which products to use in order to emulate such perfection: £60 seaweed-infused stretch mark creams called Scrummy Yummy Mummy Tummy and the like. No one will have any idea whether Markle actually uses them, but any woman who doesn’t has only herself to blame for her repulsiveness.

7. Wicked female relative watch 

Apparently Sarah Ferguson is peeved that Meghan and Harry’s pregnancy announcement has drawn attention away from daughter Eugenie’s wedding. At some point next month Kate Middleton will be peeved that Meghan is stealing all her breeder thunder. In three months’ time, Diana’s ghost will get in on the act, either approving or not approving of the royal pregnancy depending on which reporter is channelling her spirit. Throughout it all, the Queen will remain scarily aloof.

All these things, and more, shall come to pass. Then there will be the obligatory “blaming feminists for not being sufficiently joyful about the wonder of new life, as though they’re dead inside or something”. These are the rules and far be it from me to question them.

Now let’s get watching that bump.