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Why People Are Talking About Prince Harry, Meghan Markle, and Zika Right Now

Town and Country logo Town and Country 9/13/2018 Caroline Hallemann

a man in a suit talking to a woman: Concern over Meghan and Harry's upcoming royal tour of the Oceania region, specifically how the trip could impact their future children, arose on Twitter. The royals' itinerary includes stops in both Fiji and Tonga, two countries which UK health authorities have classified as having "a risk of Zika virus transmission." © Karwai Tang - Getty Images Concern over Meghan and Harry's upcoming royal tour of the Oceania region, specifically how the trip could impact their future children, arose on Twitter. The royals' itinerary includes stops in both Fiji and Tonga, two countries which UK health authorities have classified as having "a risk of Zika virus transmission." The mosquito-transmitted illness is a risk in both Tonga and Fiji, where the royals are headed on tour next month.

The speculation about Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's plans to start a family began almost as soon as their relationship went public. They even addressed it in their first joint interview, when they sat down for the BBC on the day of their engagement. At the time, Harry said "hopefully we’ll start a family in the near future."

And while any couple in their mid-thirties might recognize this as similar to the pressure they feel from from loving-if overbearing-relatives, the public guessing game has reached a fever pitch in the months following their wedding and the beginning of the Duchess of Sussex's public life as a royal.

This week, the speculation turned to Harry and Meghan's upcoming royal tour of the Oceania region, as people looked for clues in their itinerary that might indicate something about the timing of their plans to start a family.

Richard Palmer, the royal correspondent for the Daily Express, reported that a British bookmaker had reduced the odds of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's first child being born in 2019 to 1-4. He also said, "I believe women visiting areas affected by Zika are advised to wait up to six months before trying to get pregnant. That may be an issue in Fiji and Tonga."

The royals' itinerary includes stops in both Fiji and Tonga, two countries which UK health authorities have classified as having "a risk of Zika virus transmission."

For those unfamiliar with the mosquito-borne illness, Zika virus can cause microcephaly and other congenital anomalies in children when contracted by pregnant women, women trying to get pregnant, and their sexual partners. There is no vaccine for the illness, and no other preventative medicine.

The National Travel Health Network and Centre, a group set up by the British Department of Health, recommends that pregnant women should avoid traveling to regions where Zika transmission is a risk, and couples who have traveled to said regions should "avoid conception while traveling and for up to 6 months on return."

The CDC is slightly less severe in its advice, recommending that the couple wait three months before trying to conceive.

Palmer's tweet echoed the issues raised by ITV's royal editor Chris Ship in a late August article titled "Why Harry and Meghan's big tour may affect the couple's plans to start a family."

Both Palmer and Ship make sound, factual observations about the risk of infection, but many on social media felt their posts went to far in drawing conclusions about Meghan's reproductive choices. Simply put, Meghan's plans regarding when or if she might try to conceive aren't anyone's business but hers and her husband's.

"I hope that this isn’t what yourself & other reporters choose to focus on for this tour," wrote a fan account titled "Meghan and Her Prince." "Can we please step out of Meghan’s uterus? It’s really not our business."

The handle @geekygirl500005 also weighed in saying, "Chris wrote an article about the Zika virus and now everyone feels they have an opinion on Meghan’s uterus."

It's likely the conversation both about the risk of Zika in Fiji and Tonga and whether it is an appropriate topic for royal reporters to cover will continue in the weeks leading up to the royal tour.

Meghan and Harry fly to Australia on Tuesday October 16, and then make their way to Fiji, Tonga, and New Zealand, before heading back to the UK on October 31. The trip was scheduled to coincide with the 2018 Invictus Games in Sydney.

See the full schedule below:

Video: 1 In 7 Babies Born To Women Exposed To Zika Had A Birth Defect

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