How much maternity leave royal women take, as Duchess of Cambridge returns to work

Francesca Specter
Yahoo Style UK deputy editor
Kate Middleton took less than six months off after giving birth to Prince Louis. [Photo: Getty]

Kate Middleton returns to work today, with her first official public engagement since giving birth to Prince Louis on 23 April 2018. 

The Duchess of Cambridge will visit the Sayers Croft Forest School and the Wildlife Garden at Paddington Recreation Ground. Her last engagement, prior to maternity leave, was a SportsAid event at the Olympic Stadium in London on 22 March.

Although the Duchess’ six-month maternity leave stint might not sound like much time, it’s actually more time than the 36-year-old took following the births of George and Charlotte. 

Kate took just five weeks off after giving birth to Prince George in 2013 and four months off after Princess Charlotte was born in 2015.

So how does this compare to other royals?

The Queen

Queen Elizabeth took six months of maternity leave after the birth of Prince Charles, who was born on 14 November 1948.

She returned to work with the inspection of the Guard of Honour of King’s Scouts on 1 May 1949. 

She took even less after the birth of Princess Anne on 15 August 1950, emerging just months later for a performance at the London Palladium the following November.

Prince Andrew was born on 19 February 1960, and Queen Elizabeth was back to public duty on a visit to Newton Aycliffe on 28 May that year.

She took an even shorter maternity leave after the birth of Prince Edward on 10 March 1964, hosting General Ibrahim Abboud, President of the Sudan, at Buckingham Palace the following May – just two months after giving birth.

The Queen also took six months off after giving birth to Prince Charles in 1948. [Photo: Getty]

Princess Anne

Princess Anne was present for the state visit of Sir Seretse Khama, President of Botswana, in May 1978, having given birth to her son Peter Phillips in November the previous year – this works out to around six months maternity leave.

She later gave birth to Zara Tindall, born Zara Phillips, in May 1981, and took a little longer for her maternity leave with her second child.

She attended a ceremony for her election as Chancellor of the University of London in March 1982, her first public engagement after giving birth – meaning her maternity leave lasted 10 months.

Princess Diana

The late Princess Diana gave birth to Prince William in late June 1982, and embarked upon a royal tour with Prince Charles eight months later.

Prince Harry was born on 15 September 1984, and Princess Diana visited the Dr Barnardo’s head office the following year on February 5 – just six months after giving birth.

Sophie of Wessex

Countess Sophie of Wessex took around eight months off after she gave birth to her eldest child, Lady Louise Windsor.

She gave birth on 8 November 2003, and returned from maternity leave on 4 May 2004 to open the new emergency department at the John Radcliffe hospital.

Zara Tindall

Zara Tindall, Princess Anne’s daughter, gave birth to her first child, Mia Tindall, on 17 January 2014. She was pictured out and about competing in the Barbury International Horse Trials the following April – a speedy return to her sporting endeavours only three months after giving birth.

She gave birth to her second daughter, Lena Tindall, on 18 June 2018.

She has not yet returned to royal engagements, having giving birth less than four months ago. 

In the UK, pregnant women are entitled to up to a year off after having a baby.

The NHS’ guidelines read: “All employed pregnant women are entitled to 52 weeks (1 year) of maternity leave, no matter how long they’ve worked for their employer.

“This is made up of 26 weeks of ordinary maternity leave and 26 weeks of additional maternity leave.”

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