And so we finally have it, the most talked about piece of paper in the land. Since the moment his birth was announced, the registration of Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor has got everyone very excited indeed. Much of that eagerness to see the record has come from the fact that the location of his birth hadn’t been formally announced. But the place (the Portland Hospital in London) is there for all to see now as this very royal record is made public.
It was always going to be. A birth registration is a public record and so anyone can get a copy of it once it’s been recorded. We saw the details of all three of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s children’s birth registrations and now we’re seeing the first legal document belonging to their cousin, Archie.
There is one difference between the records we saw for George, Charlotte and Louis and that shared today for Archie. The Cambridges released a photo of the birth register page while the Press Association has obtained a copy of Archie’s birth certificate. A certificate is a copy of the birth register page and that’s why Harry’s signature, and that of the registrar who recorded the baby’s birth, is typed on Archie’s record.
The register page will have been filled out when Harry recorded his son’s arrival and he will have checked and signed that piece of paper then he will have been asked to sign his usual signature in box 14. It’s the only time he will have signed during the registration process. The signature is then typed on to a computerised record and all subsequent certificates are produced from that. In the good old days, before computers, a registrar would have written in the signatures when they issued a copy certificate. All very normal procedure as is the registrar who issued the copy certificate we see today signing at the bottom – they are confirming that the record is a true representation of what is in the register itself.
So let’s get down to detail. There is very little on here, apart from Archie’s place of birth, that we didn’t know already. His full name is recorded as is his date of birth and, as he isn’t part of a multiple delivery, there is no note of his time of arrival. His parents’ full, legal names are stated hence the appearance of Meghan’s first name, Rachel, and Henry in the box for Dad. Their places of birth are also recorded – important to note as all babies born in England after 1983 can claim British citizenship from their parents’ place of birth meaning Archie’s UK status comes from box 5 stating where Harry made his debut.
And then there are the occupation boxes. Women have only been able to add their job to a birth registration since 1984 meaning this new generation of Windsors are the first to come under scrutiny. There were some raised eyebrows when the Duchess of Cambridge was recorded as a ‘Princess of the United Kingdom’, even though that is what she and Meghan are, but things seem to be calmer now. It’s worth noting that this box, and that recording the occupation of a baby’s father, doesn’t actually have to be filled in, it’s really for family history purposes and we’re guessing Archie has a pretty solid idea of his family tree already.
Proud Dad Harry did the honours – when a couple is married at the time their baby is born, only one parent can sign the register and, let’s face it, the Duke of Sussex has been so proud of his little boy since the moment he arrived that he was never going to give that pen up to anyone. The other interesting part is how quickly this certificate was obtained. The registration took place today and the copy certificate (which will have cost £11) was issued on the same day.
And then we come to Place of Birth, the box that caused so much excitement. As had been widely speculated, Meghan had her baby at the Portland Hospital in London, the same place that the Yorks welcomed their two girls over thirty years ago. It’s one of London’s top hospitals and sits at the top of Great Portland Street, about five minutes walk away from the BBC’s New Broadcasting House.
And so with that, we can all breathe easy. Archie’s parents, like all others in the country, will have to keep their copies of the birth certificate safe as they’ll need to produce it quite a lot in the coming years as it’s now a vital document for a whole range of parts of Archie’s future as well as being another chapter in the royal story of the Windsors.