Britain delights in birth of Meghan's royal boy

Delighted Britons bet on baby names and dusted off their Union Jack costumes after Prince Harry and Meghan welcomed the royal family's first known mixed-race child. Ending days of suspense, a visibly relived Harry, 34, announced Monday the arrival of the couple's firstborn -- a son who will be seventh in the long line to the British throne. It was a rare piece of good news for a nation exhausted by its endless fight over Brexit, a chance to celebrate royal traditions -- this time with a young American twist. "I want to see how he'll look. As Meghan is mixed race, I'm curious", said Zahra Kibue, 34, who lived in Kenya before moving to England a few years ago. "It's very important," said Kibue. "The monarchy is saying, the door is open, anybody could be of royal kinship." The royal couple are due to show off their son to the world's media and announce his name on Wednesday. It is not known whether the child will be given a royal title but it is highly likely. Meghan Markle, a 37-year-old former TV star who studied in the suburbs of Chicago and has an African American mother, has created a fresh buzz around the century-old House of Windsor. The American duchess made waves by closing her own car door -- a task usually performed by aides. The couple announced the birth of the seven-pound, three-ounce (3.26-kilogramme) baby -- "It's a BOY!" -- to their 6.5 million followers on Instagram. Perhaps most notably, Meghan decided to ignore past practice by keeping the birth private and well away from the prying media's eyes. "Congratulations. Another great grandchild!" Britain's Press Association quoted a guest as telling the queen as she posed for a group photo at Windsor Castle. "I know," the 93-year-old monarch said. It was her eighth, as she herself pointed out. - 'Sleep deprivation society' - Most UK media assumed that Meghan had opted for a home delivery. But not The Daily Mail, which breathlessly reported that "overdue Meghan's home birth dream was dashed as she was secretly whisked to a London hospital on Sunday by Harry and his Scotland Yard security team". The Sun, a competing tabloid, said Meghan ended up being secretly rushed to a £15,000-a-night ($20,000, 17,500-euro) London hospital before giving birth "at exactly sunrise". The Daily Mail claimed that the birth came precisely three minutes later than that. Either way, Harry's brother William, two years his senior and with three kids of his own, warned the happy couple that they were in for some long nights. "I'm very pleased and glad to welcome my brother to the sleep deprivation society that is parenting," William said with a grin. - 'UNUSUAL name' - Britain has a long and proud history of betting on just about everything, and the royal baby had the bookies busy for months before the birth. "It's been crazy," Amy Jones, a spokeswoman for Paddy Power bookmakers, told AFP. "Now that the baby has arrived, everyone is backing the name Alexander." UK royal names are normally chosen from a relatively restricted pool of those used by past kings and queens. But Meghan and Harry, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, are anything but normal royals. "Meghan Markle and Prince Harry to choose UNUSUAL name for baby that UNIFIES the US and UK," The Daily Express wrote, sparking a wild guessing game on Twitter filled with puns and jokes. - 'Broken families' - Perhaps only half in jest, bookies were offering 250-1 odds on the boy being named Donald, in honour of US President Trump. As the BBC noted, this seemed "unlikely". Although the couple received congratulations from former US first lady Michelle Obama, the White House remained silent, sparking speculation that Trump was still smarting over not being invited to the wedding. Meghan's estranged father Thomas did not attend either, creating a lingering scandal. "All newborn babies bring entire families happiness and joy -- they can even bring broken families back together again," Thomas told The Sun.

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