SARAH VINE: Duke and Duchess of Sussex – not the Palace – call the shots 

Standing in front of the stable block at Windsor Castle, with the Queen’s beloved black Fell ponies, George and Sir John, ruminating peacefully in the background, a surprisingly perky Prince Harry announced the birth of his son to the world.

He looked relaxed, happy, a little pink and giggly, clearly delighted and full of praise for his wife Meghan. In short, like any new father. Except for one thing: He knew exactly what he was doing.

He was, as he always is lately, very much in control. Even the choice of setting – in the grounds of Windsor Castle but away from the couple’s home, Frogmore Cottage – seemed calculated to offer just enough access to the happy news while at the same time keeping everyone at arm’s length.

From the start, Harry and Meghan have been determined to dance to their own tune – remember the joyous wedding that was unlike anything we’d shared with the Royal Family before?

From the start, Harry and Meghan have been determined to dance to their own tune – remember the joyous wedding that was unlike anything we’d shared with the Royal Family before?

From the start, Harry and Meghan have been determined to dance to their own tune – remember the joyous wedding that was unlike anything we’d shared with the Royal Family before?

Information was vague, details scarce. Yes, he was ‘sharing’. But not a lot. And certainly not oversharing.

From the start, Harry and Meghan have been determined to dance to their own tune – remember the joyous wedding that was unlike anything we’d shared with the Royal Family before?

The announcement of the birth of their first child is no different.

As ever, Harry was polite, engaging, charming and endearing. And as ever, he said nothing that he did not want to. Pressed on a name for his son, he pushed back gently, telling reporters all would be revealed in due course – and they would get their chance to see the child in two days… as planned.

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex is pictured with Prince Harry at Buckingham Palace in the March

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex is pictured with Prince Harry at Buckingham Palace in the March

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex is pictured with Prince Harry at Buckingham Palace in the March

‘As planned’. Having a baby is an unpredictable business at the best of times. Most of us muddle through, feeling our way into the thrilling but terrifying adventure that is parenthood. But in the world of the Sussexes, nothing is left to chance.

Everything is meticulously mapped out, thought through to the very last detail, in order to ensure they – and no one else – own the agenda.

Right down to the very modern Instagram announcement. ‘It’s a boy!’ posted beneath the elegantly intertwined H and M.

Speaking from Windsor, a visibly excited Prince Harry shared his immense pride as he joked of getting just two hours' sleep, calling the birth 'the most amazing experience I could ever have possibly imagined'

Speaking from Windsor, a visibly excited Prince Harry shared his immense pride as he joked of getting just two hours' sleep, calling the birth 'the most amazing experience I could ever have possibly imagined'

Speaking from Windsor, a visibly excited Prince Harry shared his immense pride as he joked of getting just two hours’ sleep, calling the birth ‘the most amazing experience I could ever have possibly imagined’

Once again, sharing as one must in a world that seems to be directed by social media…but just the minimum.

Don’t get me wrong: That is not a criticism. Not at all. In fact, I am in awe of the way they have, as a couple, succeeded in setting the pace for their relationship.

How they – and no one else – have shaped the public perception of who they are, what they stand for and how they want to live their lives.

From the moment we first properly met Meghan on the day of the couple’s engagement, it was clear who would be calling the shots. And the official photographs to mark the occasion – in stylish black and white taken in the grounds of her future home at Windsor instead of the usual cheesy Buckingham Palace pictures – reinforced the point.

Royal staff confirmed the news with a traditional message on an easel outside Buckingham Palace. The notice pointedly failed to name the physicians who helped with the birth, as is tradition

Royal staff confirmed the news with a traditional message on an easel outside Buckingham Palace. The notice pointedly failed to name the physicians who helped with the birth, as is tradition

Royal staff confirmed the news with a traditional message on an easel outside Buckingham Palace. The notice pointedly failed to name the physicians who helped with the birth, as is tradition

Having their first child together has changed nothing and they plan to introduce the new arrival according to their agenda, not the media’s nor anyone else’s. No standing on the steps of the Lindo Wing for Meghan, blow-dried and made-up to the eyeballs.

Truth is, these are two people who understand better than many how fame can hollow out a relationship. The scrutiny that Harry’s mother, Diana, endured during – and after – her marriage to Prince Charles all but drove her mad. Harry, certainly, believes it contributed to her death. Decades on, and the danger is amplified a thousand-fold in the digital age.

Harry, deeply scarred by his mother’s many agonies, will not countenance the risk of the same thing happening to his own family.

And so he knows he needs to balance his sense of duty towards the country with his need to protect the ones he loves. It’s not arrogance, it’s self-preservation. Both Harry and Meghan have a clear sense of their obligations as Royals. It’s just that – perhaps because both have in their own way so much experience of the limelight – they are also wise to the hazards of fame.

And they understand – more clearly than most – the need to control access. To separate the public from the personal. To take the risks seriously – and to compartmentalise those aspects of their lives that might, were they to become too intertwined, eventually damage them.

The era in which we live leaves them with little choice. It is this, perhaps more than anything, that makes them a truly modern royal couple.

Meghan has brought a kind of professionalism to the role – no doubt borne of her own experiences in Hollywood – that we’ve not really witnessed before.

Critics have accused her of creating ‘Brand Sussex’, of commercialising the business of being royal; in fact what she’s doing is establishing clear boundaries that will, in the long term, prove the key to avoiding the mistakes of the previous generation of royals.

For the old guard, this modus operandi must seem deeply frustrating. This birth announcement was a case in point: The news that the Duchess was in labour was very swiftly followed by the baby’s arrival – and then we learnt that he had actually come into the world early on Monday, at 5.26am.

Even Buckingham Palace was caught off guard: The official notice announcing the arrival of Baby Sussex didn’t go up by the gates of the Palace until over two hours after he made his appearance on Instagram. It hardly seemed worth it.

Once again, Harry and Meghan have proved that they intend to play the game very much by their own rules.

What happens next will be very much up to them. But one thing’s for sure: They won’t let the public ownership of who they are get in the way of being happy, normal human beings.

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