The Royal Baby's Birthday Would Have Been Different In California, Given The Time He Was Born
As Google Trends data for this week becomes available, I’d be willing to bet that searches for when the Royal Baby was born will be among the top results. After the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, welcomed Baby Sussex to the family on Tuesday, it’s only to be expected that those who are interested in the Royal Family would want to know precisely when the latest addition arrived. And for the curious, here’s a fun fact: Baby Sussex technically has a different birthday in California, where his mother is from. Time zones are a blast, aren’t they?
According to the official birth announcement that was posted on the easel — er, sorry, “ceremonial display” — placed outside of Buckingham Palace for the 24 hours following the baby’s arrival, Baby Sussex was born at 5:26 a.m. London time on Monday, May 6, 2019. Obviously, this time and date will forever be the Royal Baby’s official birthday; the convention, generally speaking, is to celebrate birthdays according to what day and time it was where the birthday person was actually born, no matter where or when they happen to be on each successive birthday.
However, if Baby Sussex were ever to visit Meghan’s home state and city on his birthday, he’d technically need to celebrate a little earlier in order to hit his exact birth time. Eight hours earlier, to be precise; that’s the time difference between Los Angeles and London in May. And that means he’d actually end up celebrating on a different day: If we go by California time, Baby Sussex was born at 9:26 p.m. on Sunday, May 5, 2019.
It’s also worth noting, by the way, that when we say “5:26 a.m.,” what we really mean is 5:26 a.m. British Summer Time (BST). The UK generally observes BST between the end of March and end of October each year (although, like Daylight Saving Time in the United States, the exact dates BTS begins and ends vary from year to year.) During BTS, the UK turns their clocks ahead one hour of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) — the time standard used across the globe — and Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), the UK’s official time zone. (There’s no offset between UTC and GMT, for what it’s worth.)
I bring this up because the time difference between London and Los Angeles isn’t always the same; it depends on the time of year based on whether BTS or Daylight Saving Time (DST) is in effect in each city. For example, during the brief period when DST has already ended in the United States, but BST hasn’t yet kicked in across the pond, the time difference is only seven hours. The same is true for the handful of days in the fall when BST has ended, but the United States hasn’t “fallen back” into DST yet.
Of course, if we just go by the actual time of birth, it doesn’t really matter whether the time difference between London and LA is seven hours or eight; either way, Baby Sussex was still technically born a day earlier in Meghan’s home state than he was in the Royal Family’s territory. If the baby had been born at 5:26 a.m. on, say, March 20 in London, he would have been born at 10:26 p.m. on March 19 in Los Angeles — the day before his birthday according to London’s clock and calendar.
The happy new dad.
Does any of this matter? Not really, to be honest, even if it is kind of interesting to think about as an intellectual exercise. (Time zones are cool!) However, it does become a little more relevant when you consider the question of whether Baby Sussex will have dual citizenship.
Per current UK laws, reports the Independent, “a person is considered a British citizen if at least one of their parents ‘was a British or Irish citizen’ when they were born.” As such, Baby Sussex automatically has citizenship in the UK due to the fact that his dad (who, y’know, is literal British royalty) had British citizenship at the time of his birth.
Meanwhile, per the U.S. Department of State, a “person born abroad in wedlock” to a U.S. citizen and non-citizen “acquires U.S. citizenship at birth if the U.S. citizen parent has been physically present in the United States or one of its outlying possessions prior to the person’s birth for the period required by the statue in effect when the person is born.” For births that occur or occurred on or after Nov. 14, 1986, the “period required” is “for five years to the person’s birth, at least two of which were after the age of 14.”
Given that Meghan was born and raised in Los Angeles and lived there for most of her life (the exception perhaps being the years she spent at Northwestern University in Illinois, from which she graduated in 2003 with a B.A. in theater and international studies), she definitely fits those requirements — so Baby Sussex will likely have dual citizenship, if he (when he’s old enough) and his parents want him to. (He'll also probably have to pay taxes in the United States if he becomes a dual citizen, too.)
Mum is reportedly doing well.
Interestingly, though, the United States doesn’t technically acknowledge dual citizenship. However, according to the New York Times, who spoke to former Immigration and Naturalization Service commissioner Doris Meissner, the U.S. government has “softened its stance on dual citizenship” somewhat over the years in order to accommodate Americans working abroad who become citizens of the countries in which they live and work. “Even though technically the United States doesn’t affirmatively embrace dual citizenship, it no longer objects to it,” said Meissner. “The policy for quite some years now has been basically a ‘Don’t ask don’t tell,’ policy.” (Meghan herself is currently in the process of becoming a British citizen, but it’ll probably take a while for her to complete it.)
Of course, even if Baby Sussex is “unofficially” a dual citizen, that doesn’t mean that he’ll necessarily consider California specifically his “home” state. It would be a possibility if Meghan and Harry, say, opted to split their time between Los Angeles and London; however, it’s likely that the family’s royal obligations would prevent them from doing so. As such, I wouldn’t count on it happening.
It’s still kind of amusing to think about, though. And hey, either way, happy birthday Baby Sussex! Mum and Dad must be very proud. Here’s wishing you all a long and happy life together.