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Why Prince Harry taking paternity leave is a big deal

Harry and Meghan Markle welcomed their daughter, Lilibet “Lili” Diana, on June 4.
/ Source: TODAY

Prince Harry has announced that he will be out of the office for the next few months, following the birth of his second child.

The Duke of Sussex and his wife, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, welcomed daughter Lilibet “Lili” Diana on June 4. The couple are also parents of 2-year-old son Archie.

Harry shared the news of his paternity leave through a statement on the Archewell Foundation website. Employees at Archewell, the nonprofit which Harry runs with Meghan, are offered up to 20 weeks of parental leave.

Prince Harry posed with wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, and their son, Archie, in 2019.
Prince Harry posed with wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, and their son, Archie, in 2019. Toby Melville / Pool via Reuters

In the United Kingdom, new dads can take up to two weeks of paternity leave. But when Archie was born in 2019, Harry, who was still a working member of the royal family, kept up his normal schedule and continued carrying out official engagements.

Harry’s brother, Prince William, was back at work shortly after he and the Duchess of Cambridge welcomed their third child, Prince Louis, in 2018.

NBC royal commentator Daisy McAndrew told TODAY Parents that Harry and Meghan are sending a message that they are a team. McAndrew said she believes Harry also is using his platform to encourage other men to do the same and take their full parental leave if it is offered.

“By Harry taking parental leave with Meghan they’re showing that child care is a joint responsibility,” McAndrew explained. “They’re a modern family.”

Though Harry and Meghan stepped down as working members of the royal family and moved to the United States to start a new life in California, both Archie and Lili, as well as Harry himself, remain in the line of succession to the British throne.