UPDATE 2-UK's Prince William and Kate expecting a baby

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

delighted.

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

said.

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

celebrations.

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

readers."

"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."

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