The Duchess of Sussex has described experiencing an “almost unbearable grief” after losing her second child in a miscarriage.
In a deeply personal article for the New York Times, Meghan wrote how she lost her unborn baby in July in California – a moment that left husband Harry holding the “shattered pieces” of her heart.
The duchess has been widely praised by charities for sending a “powerful message” to others who have lived through the same trauma by speaking about the issue.
A source said there is “understandable sadness” within the royal family at the disclosure.
In the article, Meghan says: “Losing a child means carrying an almost unbearable grief, experienced by many but talked about by few.
“In the pain of our loss, my husband and I discovered that in a room of 100 women, 10 to 20 of them will have suffered from miscarriage.
“Yet despite the staggering commonality of this pain, the conversation remains taboo, riddled with (unwarranted) shame, and perpetuating a cycle of solitary mourning.”
Other royal women have experienced the loss of an unborn baby, with the Countess of Wessex losing her first baby in December 2001 when she was airlifted to hospital after suffering a potentially life-threatening ectopic pregnancy.
The Queen’s granddaughter Zara Tindall suffered two miscarriages before having her second child and spoke in detail about her experience in a newspaper interview.
An estimated one in four pregnancies ends in a miscarriage, according to the charity Tommy’s, which funds research into miscarriages, stillbirths and premature births, with most women losing their babies during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
Sophie King, a midwife from Tommy’s, said miscarriage is a “real taboo in society, so mothers like Meghan sharing their stories is a vital step in breaking down that stigma and shame”.
She added: “Her honesty and openness today send a powerful message to anyone who loses a baby: this may feel incredibly lonely, but you are not alone.”
The duchess began her article by describing a typical morning getting up and looking after her son Archie: “After changing his diaper, I felt a sharp cramp.
“I dropped to the floor with him in my arms, humming a lullaby to keep us both calm, the cheerful tune a stark contrast to my sense that something was not right.
“I knew, as I clutched my firstborn child, that I was losing my second.
“Hours later, I lay in a hospital bed, holding my husband’s hand. I felt the clamminess of his palm and kissed his knuckles, wet from both our tears.
“Staring at the cold white walls, my eyes glazed over. I tried to imagine how we’d heal.”
Meghan also wrote: “Sitting in a hospital bed, watching my husband’s heart break as he tried to hold the shattered pieces of mine, I realised that the only way to begin to heal is to first ask, ‘Are you OK?’”
Harry’s uncle Earl Spencer offered his sympathy to his nephew and his wife during an appearance on the ITV show Lorraine.
He told the host: “I can’t imagine the agony for any couple of losing a child in this way. It’s so very, very sad. And of course, I totally agree with you, all thoughts with them today.”
The duchess suffered her miscarriage in July during a busy period in her legal battle with Associated Newspapers Ltd (ANL).
Meghan is suing ANL, publisher of the Mail on Sunday and MailOnline, over an article which reproduced parts of the handwritten letter sent to her estranged father Thomas Markle in August 2018.
The court case, which was due to start on January 11 next year, has been postponed until autumn 2021 for a “confidential” reason.
A Buckingham Palace spokesman said about Meghan’s miscarriage: “It’s a deeply personal matter we would not comment on.”
The couple stepped down as working royals for financial freedom in March and have been busy establishing their new lives in America – signing a lucrative Netflix deal, buying a £11 million property in Santa Barbara and setting up their charitable organisation Archewell.
Clea Harmer, chief executive of stillbirth and neonatal death charity Sands, said many people do not know what to say after the death of a baby, and added: “But we can all make a difference simply by asking, as Meghan suggests, if someone we know is OK and by saying how sorry we are.
“The other person may not want to talk but they will know you care, and if they do want to talk it may be the start of a journey through their grief.”
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