It's all go when HELLO! arrives at the house of Royal Ballet leading lights Steven McRae and Elizabeth Harrod. Their four-year-old daughter Audrey is fluffing up the layers of her tutu while her brother Frederick, nearly three, spins in circles on the carpet; meanwhile, their baby sibling Rupert enjoys a nap before his close-up. "I guess they have theatrical blood in them," observes Steven, who is as adept at handling 3am feeds as he is giving dazzling performances at London's Royal Opera House.
Less than two weeks after our shoot, Steven, making a triumphant return to the stage after three operations on his foot and knee, shocked his audience by abandoning his performance in Manon after rupturing his Achilles tendon. Though 12 days late, baby Rupert made a speedy entrance at Kingston Hospital on 31 August. "We got to the hospital at 1.15am and he was born at 1.45," says virtuoso principal dancer Steven, 33, who also appears in Cats, the hotly anticipated film adaptation of the stage musical. "Liz being Liz, she was like superwoman – pushed twice and out he came." He felt "overwhelmingly protective" holding his new son for the first time.
Baby Rupert was born on 31 August
"With all three of our children I put on their first nappy and dressed them," he says. "You want to give them that instant comfort and security and can’t hold them tightly enough. You just want them to know they’re absolutely safe from the moment they take their first breath." Liz felt shell-shocked. "It’s a wonderful emotion but in that exact moment of having just given birth, I almost lose every sense of feeling and emotion. It’s so overwhelming," she says. The soloist, 34, had gone on maternity leave 12 and a half weeks into her pregnancy as she was dancing a rigorous role in a tight tutu in Don Quixote at the time.
The couple, who married in 2011, will have a live-in nanny after Liz returns to work. "I’ve always felt it’s exciting for the children to see us go off in the evening to perform. I’ve not felt any guilt or the need to step away as they’re happy and thriving," says Liz. "It’s inspiring for them," adds Steven. "I took them to watch Mumma dance the Rose Fairy in The Nutcracker last Christmas while she was pregnant with Rupert. When they’re older they’ll look back and think: ‘Wow, Mum really did that.’"
To read the full interview with Steve and Elizabeth, pick up the latest copy of HELLO! - out on Monday.