LONDON — Months after Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, welcomed their newborn son, the prince, one of the most prominent young fathers in Britain, again had some baby news. It’s not what you might expect. In an interview published this week, he made it clear that he and his wife plan to have no more than two children, a decision that he appeared to link to a greater consideration for the planet.
“Two maximum!” he said in a conversation with Jane Goodall, the famed British primatologist, that appeared online on Tuesday and will be published in British Vogue’s September issue. “We are the one species on this planet that seems to think that this place belongs to us, and only us,” Prince Harry said, reflecting on humans’ impact on the Earth.
“Surely, being as intelligent as we all are, or as evolved as we all are supposed to be, we should be able to leave something better behind for the next generation,” the prince said. Prince Harry’s wedding to the duchess in the spring of 2018 was seen by some as a symbol of change in the British monarchy. Since then, the couple has disregarded royal protocol and tradition more than once, including for the birth of their son, Archie.
They declined a popular photo opportunity to present him to the media outside a hospital in the heart of London, where other royal births have been eagerly awaited. Similarly, the new parents broke from tradition for Archie’s christening ceremony by not allowing photographers to document those arriving to the private event.
Prince Harry also took a rare step in publicly defending the duchess, an American whose mother is black, by condemning in a public statement the “racial undertone” and sexism inherent in the media’s coverage of their relationship.
He again touched on the issue of race during his discussion with Dr. Goodall, discussing behaviors passed down from parents to children. “Just as stigma is handed down from generation to generation, your perspective on the world and on life and on people is something that is taught to you,” the prince said.
For centuries, having many several children meant that royals could ensure a steady line of succession. Queen Victoria had nine children, although her successors didn’t quite follow suit. Queen Elizabeth II had four, and each of her children had two of their own. Prince William and Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, have three children — who are, among the queen’s great-grandchildren, highest in the line of succession.
Prince Harry’s statement about his own plans for children and his candid statement about racism are likely to agitate British tabloids, which scrutinize even the smallest details of royal family life.
“Is this the same Harry who uses helicopters to go from London to Birmingham & whose wife uses celebrity mates’ private jets to cross the Atlantic?” Piers Morgan, a tabloid writer and broadcaster, wrote on Twitter on Wednesday in response to the news.
Alison Phillips, the editor of The Daily Mirror, a tabloid, weighed in by saying that “many people won’t like this from Prince Harry but no doubt this is the conversation our children and grandchildren will be having in future.”
Last month, the Sun newspaper published a list of rules that it said the couple’s staff had distributed to their neighbors in Windsor, offering guidance on interacting with the Sussexes and their child.
In an emailed statement at the time, a spokeswoman for Buckingham Palace said, “The Duke and Duchess didn’t request this, didn’t know about it, and had nothing to do with the content or guidance offered.”