Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, aka the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, debuted their son, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor, today at Windsor Castle. The couple had previously announced that they would be forgoing the traditional royal baby unveiling—a maternity-ward photo opp—and instead introduced him two days after his birth.
In addition to bucking the usual debut—an event that has been criticized for the unreasonable strain it puts on a new mother but has remained customary for the last four decades—the royal parents made another significant public choice: Prince Harry was holding the newborn, rather than Markle. Also worth noting is Markle’s clothing choice, a blazer dress by female menswear designer Grace Wales Bonner. It prominently showcases her post-birth baby bump, something that royal mothers have historically disguised with a billowy material.
The culmination of these decisions, while trivial in most other contexts, are unprecedented for a royal baby debut in the British monarchy. They’re deliberate, public choices that highlight Markle’s own feminist principles and the couple’s uniquely progressive position in what is an otherwise deeply conservative—and socially restrictive—monarchy.
For her part, Markle has a long history of activism that pre-dates her royal life: At age 11, she notoriously took on Procter & Gamble for a sexist advertising campaign that the conglomerate ultimately changed. She’s a women’s advocate for the United Nations and a global ambassador for World Vision Canada, and is the only royal to identify as a feminist in a substantive way, such as on the monarchy’s official website, and by speaking on the topic on various panels and on international tours.
Markle, a former actress, is by no means a radical activist, and as a member of the royal family she’s restricted in how she can behave. She is expected to steer clear of party politics and has already been hauled over the coals by a racist and misogynistic British press for doing virtually nothing inappropriate or graceless in the first year of her marriage. In spite of these circumstances, she continues to signal her progressive principles in small but significant ways. The manner is which she introduced Archie was yet another of these.