MEGHAN Markle and Prince Harry beamed with delight as the royal couple were handed a toy kangaroo on their first appearance since their pregnancy announcement.
Mum-to-be Meghan looked thrilled as she clutched a cuddly toy Joey given to the royal couple by Australia’s Governor-general Sir Peter Cosgrove in Sydney today.
The Duchess of Sussex exclaimed: “Our first baby gift!” as she cuddled the Joey, while her husband Prince Harry was handed a pair of tiny baby Ugg boots, which he called “awesome”.
The gifts came just hours after Kensington Palace announced the Duchess of Sussex was pregnant.
Harry and Meghan were greeted at Admiralty House by flag-bearing representatives from the 18 countries who will be competing at the Invictus Games in the city.
Several of them congratulated the couple on their baby news, with Meghan replying: “Thank you so much. We are very excited.”
An excited Meghan looks thrilled to accept a cuddly toy Joey
The dignitaries also presented Harry and Meghan with the Akubras – traditional wide-brimmed Australian hats – which were gifted to them for their wedding in May.
Koalas and joeys are next on the itinerary as the couple visit Taronga Zoo before a walkabout on the forecourt of the iconic Sydney Opera House.
Today’s appearance marks the start of the couple’s 16-day tour Down Under.
Despite her news a svelte-looking Meghan showed little signs of a bump as she stunned in a stylish frock by Australian designer, Karen Gee, during the event at Admiralty House.
According to the royal sources, the Duke and Duchess had shared their happy news with the “delighted” Queen and other members of the Royal Family before their departure, at Princess Eugenie’s wedding on Friday.
Speculation about the pregnancy had reached fever pitch earlier after Meghan was seen clutching a number of purple folders to her stomach in Sydney in an apparent bid to disguise her baby bump.
Kensington Palace swiftly confirmed these rumours on Twitter this morning, writing: “Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are very pleased to announce that The Duchess of Sussex is expecting a baby in the Spring of 2019.”
They added: “Their Royal Highnesses have appreciated all of the support they have received from people around the world since their wedding in May and are delighted to be able to share this happy news with the public.”
Their news came nearly five months to the day that they were married in a lavish ceremony at St George’s Chapel in Windsor.
Just last week rumours circulated that Meghan was pregnant after she appeared at Princess Eugenie’s wedding wearing a long, loose-fitting coat.
The pregnancy announcement five months after their big day has sparked speculation that the royal tot was conceived on their mini-moon to Dublin – or even at a pal’s wedding.
It’s thought the seventh in line to the throne could be traced back to Harry’s best friend Charlie Van Straubenzee’s nuptials on August 4, when the couple were spotted looking loved up and celebrating her 37th birthday.
Others have speculated that the tot could have been conceived during their royal tour to Dublin in July, their first trip together as a married couple.
The Duchess of Sussex was seen enjoying a glass of champagne during the British Ambassador’s annual summer party at Glencairn House, suggesting she was not pregnant or didn’t know she was at that point.
Prince Harry was even asked on the trip if he and Meghan were trying for a baby when one woman said: “My husband also has red hair and he gave me five children – when are you and Meghan going to get going?’ – to which he replied: “Five children? Too many”.
Meghan, who found fame playing Rachel Zane in the US drama Suits, has had a successful 12-week scan, meaning her baby could be due in late April, possibly around St George’s Day on April 23.
This morning the pair held hands and smiled as they arrived in Australia, accompanied by a ten-man entourage for their first international tour as a couple.
The mum-to-be was wreathed in smiles as she and Harry were greeted by excited fans as they stepped off the plane.
And they were seen enjoying a tender moment together as they strolled through the gardens of Admiralty House, moments before the announcement.
The Duke and Duchess are embarking on a packed tour around Australia, Fiji, Tong and New Zealand as their exciting news ricochets around the world.
They will take on 76 engagements over just 16 days, including the Invictus Games in Sydney.
The sporting event founded by Harry in 2014 gives sick and injured military personnel and veterans the opportunity to compete in sports.
But aspects of the itinerary have sparked concern, given the Foreign Commonwealth Office classify both Fiji and Tonga as “having a risk of Zika virus transmission”.
Both countries are listed as “moderate” risk, but pregnant women are recommended not to travel to areas affected by the Zika epidemic unless absolutely essential.
The latest royal could even end up sharing a birthday with their great-grandmother, the Queen, who celebrates hers on April 21.
And if she’s overdue, the newborn could share a birthday with their cousin, Princess Charlotte, who was born on May 2.
Harry and Meghan’s baby will be a first cousin of Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis – but will not be a prince or princess themselves unless the Queen steps in ahead of the birth.
Meghan’s mum Doria Ragland, 62, is expected to fly over for the birth and has been mooted as the nanny for the infant after she seen taking baby-care classes in Pasadena, California, earlier this year.
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In a statement issued through Kensington Palace, Ms Ragland said she was “very happy at this lovely news and is looking forward to welcoming her first grandchild”.
But the Palace refused to say whether Meghan’s dad Thomas, 74, had been told about the baby news.
Despite their ongoing rift, Thomas told ITV’s Good Morning Britain a month after his daughter’s wedding: “She’s wanted children for a long time and when she met Harry and she spoke about how much she loves him, there’s got to be a child in the making, somewhere soon.”
Thomas was unable to attend Meghan’s big day citing ill health and has since made a series of ill-advised blunders, apparently courting publicity generated by his royal daughter.
A LOVE STORY: How the whirlwind romance of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle unfolded
July 2016: Meghan Markle and Prince Harry met through friends, becoming an item
November 2016: Prince Harry confirms the couple’s relationship, condeming the “abuse” of his girlfriend
May 7 2017: The couple were snapped kissing in public for the first time
September 2017: Meghan Markle gave an insight into the couple’s relationship, saying they were “two people who are really happy and in love”
November 27 2017: The couple’s engagement was announced, with it revealed Prince Harry proposed over a roast chicken dinner
March 23 2018: On a trip to Belfast, Meghan jokes when shown baby products “I’m sure at some point we’ll need the whole (lot)”.
May 17: Drama around the wedding unfolds, with Meghan’s father revealed to have been involved in staging paparazzi photos
May 19: The couple are married at St George’s chapel, Windsor Castle and become the Duke and Duchess of Sussex
June 14: Meghan undertakes her first joint engagement with the Queen on a day trip to Cheshire, and body language experts say the pair got on famously
October 12: Harry and Meghan return to St George’s Chapel for Princess Eugenie’s wedding to Jack Brooksbank just five months after they pledged their love for one another in the same Windsor Castle venue.
October 15: The duke and duchess touch down in Australia ahead of their first royal tour as a married couple
October 15: The duke and duchess are “very pleased” that Meghan is expecting a baby in the spring of 2019, Kensington Palace announces.
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