LONDON, Dec 3 (Reuters) - Britain's Prince William and his
wife Catherine are expecting a baby, destined to be the
country's future monarch, although the mother-to-be is in
hospital with a type of very acute morning sickness that
sometimes indicates twins.
"Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge
are very pleased to announce that The Duchess of Cambridge is
expecting a baby," the prince's office said in a statement on
Monday, adding that Queen Elizabeth and the royal family were
The couple, officially known as the Duke and Duchess of
Cambridge, married in April last year, amid a global media
frenzy and there has been much speculation, particularly in U.S.
gossip magazines, about a possible pregnancy.
"It's only been a matter of time. Everyone has been waiting
for Kate to announce that she was pregnant," Claudia Joseph, who
has written a biography of the duchess, told Reuters.
A spokeswoman for the couple said 30-year-old Catherine,
widely known as Kate, was in the King Edward VII Hospital in
central London suffering from Hyperemesis Gravidarum, an acute
morning sickness which causes severe nausea and vomiting and
requires supplementary hydration and nutrients.
Britain's National Health Service website said the condition
was common in the early weeks of pregnancy but did not put the
baby at any increased risk.
Professor Tim Draycott, a consultant obstetrician at the
University of Bristol, told Reuters that the condition may
indicate more than one royal baby may be in the offing.
"Hyperemesis is slightly more common with twins " Draycott
William, a Royal Air Force helicopter pilot, was at her side
and she is likely to remain in hospital for several days. There
was no detail about when the baby was due, although the prince's
spokesman said she was less than 12 weeks pregnant.
"I'm delighted by the news that the Duke and Duchess of
Cambridge are expecting a baby," Prime Minister David Cameron
said on his Twitter website. "They will make wonderful parents."
BABY WILL BE KING, OR QUEEN
William, Queen Elizabeth's 30-year-old grandson, is second
in line to the British throne, and their first child will become
the third in succession when he or she is born.
Last year Britain and other Commonwealth countries which
have the queen as their monarch agreed to change the rules of
royal succession so that males would no longer have precedence
as heir, regardless of age.
The agreement also means an end to a ban on a future monarch
marrying a Catholic, a stipulation dating back some 300 years.
Britain's royal family are currently riding the crest of
popularity on the back of William and Kate's wedding and the
queen's diamond jubilee this year which has witnessed nationwide
The young royal couple have become global stars after some
two billion people tuned in to watch their glittering marriage
ceremony and the sumptuous display of pageantry that accompanied
it, and barely a day goes by without a picture of Catherine
appearing in the pages of Britain's royalty-obsessed newspapers.
The duchess, the first "commoner" to marry a prince in close
proximity to the throne in more than 350 years, is now a fashion
icon, with her attire scrutinised every time she steps out in
public and followed by legions of women around the world.
That has also brought unwanted attention and there was anger
in Britain when topless photos of Kate relaxing on holiday were
published in a French magazine in September.
The pictures rekindled memories of the media pursuit of
William's mother, Princess Diana, who was killed in a car crash
in Paris in 1997 while being chased by paparazzi.
"I will be very surprised if this isn't handled with the
utmost tact and sensitivity," said media commentator Steve
Hewlett. "Newspapers realise there's a huge amount of goodwill
towards Will and Kate, and they take their cue from their
"DADDY'S LITTLE CO-PILOT"
Kate made her last public appearance on Friday when she
returned to her old school - a minor event that nonetheless
generated live television coverage on news channels - when she
looked healthy and joined in a game of hockey with pupils.
Earlier in the week William had hinted at a pregnancy during
a visit to Cambridge in central England when they were given a
home-made baby suit emblazoned with the words "Daddy's little
co-pilot", a reference to William's job.
"When I gave it to him he said 'I'll keep that', and handed
it to his aide," said Samantha Hill.
Joseph, author of "Kate: The Making of a Princess", said she
believed the couple, who currently live in north Wales where the
prince is based as a search and rescue pilot, had been waiting
for the right moment to have a baby.
"My feeling has always been that they were not going to take
the spotlight away from the queen in her Jubilee. But now 2013
is going to be William and Kate's year," she said, adding the
couple would make wonderful parents.
"We have seen her with children and she is lovely with them,
she's got the natural touch, and her parents run a party
business and she has spent a lot of time with children," Joseph
said. "(William) he has always talked about wanting children, so
I am sure he is delighted."