The unborn child might be third in line to the throne but first and foremost it is William and Kate’s darling baby
8:30PM GMT 05 Dec 2012
Is it a girl? Is it a boy? Is it a hockey-playing helicopter pilot with blue eyes and lustrous locks? Is it identical twins who can do the first monarchy job-share, taking it in turns to cut the ribbons and doze through the Royal Variety Performance?
No, it’s an early pregnancy, as fraught with risk as any other. The foetus currently measures about an inch and its feet are starting to lose their webbed appearance. Now the miracle of becoming human can begin. In the brain, nerve cells sprout branches and join up to make miniature trees where, one day, thoughts and feelings will blossom. The textbooks tell us that the hands can now bend at the wrist, though, obviously, it will be many years before the little prince or princess gets the hang of that weird, window-cleaning Royal Wave. Give it time.
But the world is impatient, ravenous for information about the royal baby, which isn’t really a baby. Not yet. At just a few weeks’ gestation, it should be a tremulous secret that the smiling mother clutches to herself, sharing the news only with the father, and maybe her own parents, until it’s safe to tell the world. Judging by the champagne bottles in the bin outside the Middletons’ house, that’s what Kate and William were doing in Berkshire at the weekend, letting Michael and Carole know that they were going to be grandparents. Then Kate was suddenly taken ill and a statement rushed out. The couple didn’t plan on making the pregnancy public until Christmas, when they could have had a scan and been pretty confident that all was well.
No chance of that now. Not when the tiny creature, oblivious in its amniotic pool, is already declared third in line to the throne, and historians on the radio speculate as to how old he or she will be when they finally inherit the Crown. Maybe 70, or even 80, if the Windsor longevity continues, they say.
And it’s at this point that you yell at the radio and tell the historians to shut up. Because, frankly, they have no business speculating about the unborn child’s old age when the hormones from the placenta have only just kicked in and poor mum is sick as a dog. Or, rather, she has hyperemesis gravidarum, a dreadful condition about which we all suddenly have far too much information.
A friend who had hyperemesis gravidarum compared it to being on a cross-Channel ferry in a gale-force wind. Except the seasickness doesn’t abate and dry land is six months away. The friend spent 16 weeks in hospital on a drip. So might poor Kate.
If you were her, still in that anxious first trimester and in hospital with your head stuck in a grey cardboard vomit carton and your arm hooked up to fluids, how much would you want millions of people speculating about your insides and choosing your baby’s name for you? Me neither.
Readers of Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall will know that fine novel records the obsession with the contents of Anne Boleyn’s uterus. Over the past four feverish days, I’ve found myself wondering how far we’ve come from Tudor England as proper concern for the privacy and fears of a very sick Kate are swept aside in hot pursuit of something called Royal Baby Joy. The 30-year-old Duchess lying in a bed in London’s King Edward VII Hospital is not just some carrier of a being who will guarantee the future of the monarchy, but a bright, caring woman with strong feelings about how her children will be raised. This is not some Windsor brood mare; it’s a womb with a view.
Unlike the wife of Henry VIII, the former Miss Middleton’s lovely head will not be on the block if she fails to produce a son. Among the blessings she has already given to her country, this is by far the most significant: henceforth, a first-born daughter will be the rightful heir and not in danger of being dethroned by a pesky little brother. It’s not just an important step for equality but a tribute to Elizabeth II, who only knew for certain that she would be queen when a male heir failed to materialise. After 60 years in the job, the girl seems to be working out pretty well.
Of course I share the excitement at the prospect of a royal baby, but every single mother I have spoken to this week has said that her main reaction has been one of anxiety for Kate. No normal woman wants her pregnancy discussed before the 12-week scan. The people who are already dishing out advice on how Kate should avoid looking frumpy during her pregnancy (“mumsy” is a no-no for mums-to-be, apparently) should remember how fragile a state she and her baby are in right now.
In his address at the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales, Earl Spencer said that his sister “was the most hunted person of the modern age”. Prince William loathes the media for what it did to his mother. He has vowed to friends that he will not let his wife be dehumanised and harassed as Diana was. Nor will he allow his and Kate’s happiness to be jeopardised by unfeeling intrusion. Any extra stress at this difficult time for his wife and her pregnancy could affect William’s already ambivalent attitude to his own future as king.
So back off, people. The unborn child, already in the international spotlight before its eyes have been formed, may be third in line to the throne, but first and foremost it is the darling baby of Mr and Mrs Wales. We would do well to remember that, and wish Diana/Dorothy/Philip/Michael/Elizabeth/Squeak and his/her parents all the luck in the world.
Kate – who is in the “very early stages” of her pregnancy, according to the Palace – has been diagnosed with hyperemesis gravidarum, characterized by severe and persistent nausea and vomiting during pregnancy.
Wearing a grey sweater, William is seen exiting the hospital and heading toward a waiting vehicle.
While a source at St. James’s Palace tells PEOPLE that the couple decided to “be open” about Kate’s pregnancy because she was admitted to the hospital, Kate, 30, and William, 30, “aren’t going into detail about the pregnancy itself.”
The Palace announced the Duchess’s pregnancy earlier Monday in a statement. “Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are very pleased to announce that The Duchess of Cambridge is expecting a baby,” it said. “The Queen, The Duke of Edinburgh, The Prince of Wales, The Duchess of Cornwall and Prince Harry and members of both families are delighted with the news.”
Later on Monday, Prime Minister David Cameron congratulated the couple, saying “I’m delighted by the news that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are expecting a baby. They will make wonderful parents.”
The Palace has described the Duchess of Cambridge’s morning sickness as “acute” and she is at King Edward VII Hospital in Central London, joined by her husband, Prince William. According to a source at St James’s Palace, Kate arrived at the hospital from her parents’ new home in Bucklebury.
The source adds that the couple decided to “be open” about Kate’s pregnancy because she was admitted to the hospital. But, since it’s so early, “we aren’t going into detail about the pregnancy itself,” the source says.
Kate, 30, also has canceled her next three official engagements.
According to the Palace, Kate is suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum, characterized by severe and persistent nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. If untreated, the patient can suffer dehydration and dangerous weight loss.
This is the first child for the royal couple, who wed in April 2011.
Click here for photos of Kate through the years. “As the pregnancy is in its very early stages, Her Royal Highness is expected to stay in hospital for several days and will require a period of rest thereafter,” the statement said. The royal family was clearly delighted with the news.
“Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are very pleased to announce that The Duchess of Cambridge is expecting a baby,” the palace said in a statement today. “The Queen, The Duke of Edinburgh, The Prince of Wales, The Duchess of Cornwall and Prince Harry and members of both families are delighted with the news.”
The baby will be the queen’s third great-grandchild.
Robert Lacey, author of the definitive book “Majesty” said, “The British public and indeed the whole world will be delighted for the same, it keeps the monarchy going. The royal wedding brought a magic back to the monarchy and people are fascinated by William and Catherine.”
The announcement follows relentless public and media speculation about when Prince William and his wife would have an heir. The guessing game began almost immediately after the couple said, “I do.”
VOTE: What Should They Name the Baby?
Tabloids began snapping close-ups of Middleton’s stomach for any indication of a baby bump. Baby rumors abounded when the duchess held a baby at a press event and when she declined peanut butter at another event. British physicians are known to warn women against eating peanuts during pregnancy. When the couple got a dog, Lupo, headlines wondered if they were practicing for another addition to the family.
The palace, which rarely comments on speculation, took the unusual step of saying, “We would be the ones to make the announcement, not Hollywood.”
“It is quite strange reading about it, but I try not to let it bother me,” Prince William said in an interview with ABC News’ Katie Couric in May 2012. “I’m just very keen to have a family and both Catherine and I are looking forward to having a family in the future.”
Asked by Couric if there was anything else he wanted to share, he coyly answered, “You won’t get anything out of me. Tight lipped.”
Due to a dramatic change in the rules of succession, the royal couple’s first-born will likely be the heir to the throne, regardless of the baby’s gender.
Last year, the heads of 16 Commonwealth countries agreed to a change in the rules of succession so that first-born children of either gender can take the throne. Queen Elizabeth II was only eligible to be monarch because her father had no male children. The British Parliament must still amend existing law to make the succession change official.
“Put simply, if the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were to have a little girl, that girl would one day be our queen,” British Prime Minister David Cameron told reporters in 2011.
Royal babies have typically been born within one year of marriage. Princess Diana gave birth to William just 11 months after her wedding and the queen gave birth to Prince Charles six days before her first wedding anniversary.
PHOTOS: Royal Heirs Around the World
Click here for an interactive look at William and Kate’s love story.
William, who has long been known for making privacy a priority, will now be faced with the inevitable fascination with his first child. And the scrutiny will doubtless be familiar to him.
From his infant trip to Australia with his mother to his graduation from St. Andrews University, William’s life was filled with photo ops.
“We have a paradox here. William loathes the press and exposure to the publicity. On the other hand, Diana exposed both sons at an early age. They are immensely assured young men,” Lacey said. “While he may want to keep his children out the limelight, as a modern monarch he knows he has to deal with the media.” PHOTOS: William and Kate: The College Years
Now, the name guessing game begins.
“They’ll stick to traditional names,” Lacey predicts. “William has a great sense of history from working with his grandmother. The queen would have him over for tea to teach him about history and the workings of the monarchy.”
It’s typical for royals to have three or four names. Prince William’s full name is William Arthur Philip Louis.
“If it’s a girl it’s not likely to be called Diana,” Lacey said. “But you’re very likely to see Diana in one of the middle names. You might very likely get Elizabeth Diana something. It shows the bravery with which he’s kept his mother’s memory alive, right down to the ring on Kate’s finger.”
BREAKING NEWS: Duke and Duchess of Cambridge ‘delighted’ as they announce they are expecting their first baby
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are having a baby, it was announced today.
Catherine. 30, has been taken to King Edward VII Hospital in London with acute morning sickness is expected to stay in hospital for several days.
In a statement on the couple’s website, the couple said they were ‘delighted with the news’.
The Queen, Prince Philip and other members of the royal family are ‘delighted’.
Prime Minister David Cameron said on Twitter: ‘I’m delighted by the news that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are expecting a baby.’
In a statement on the couple’s website, they said: ‘Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are very pleased to announce that The Duchess of Cambridge is expecting a baby.
‘The Queen, The Duke of Edinburgh, The Prince of Wales, The Duchess of Cornwall and Prince Harry and members of both families are delighted with the news.
‘The Duchess was admitted this afternoon to King Edward VII Hospital in Central London with Hyperemesis Gravidarum.
‘As the pregnancy is in its very early stages, Her Royal Highness is expected to stay in hospital for several days and will require a period of rest thereafter.’
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s baby will be born third in line to the throne and a great grandchild to the Queen.
The last time a still-serving monarch got to meet a great grandchild born in direct succession to the crown was nearly 120 years ago.