The Duchess of Cambridge, the former Kate Middleton, and her husband Prince William are expecting their first child, who will be third in line to the British throne.
The Duchess, 30, is in the very early stages of pregnancy, their office at Clarence House in London said in a statement. She was admitted to King Edward VII Hospital in central London today with hyperemesis gravidarum, or acute morning sickness, and is expected to stay there for several days.
The child will follow Queen Elizabeth II’s son, Prince Charles, and William in the line of succession. Prime Minister David Cameron has pledged, together with the governments of the 16 other countries of which the queen is monarch, to overhaul royal succession laws to allow a first-born daughter to ascend to the throne before her younger brothers.
Current laws, including the 1700 Act of Settlement, give male heirs precedence over their older sisters. The act also excludes Roman Catholics or anyone married to a Catholic from becoming king or queen.
“I’m delighted by the news that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are expecting a baby,” Cameron said on Twitter. “They will make wonderful parents.” Opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband said in a statement: “This is wonderful news for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. The whole country will be thrilled.”
There had been speculation about a pregnancy after William last week accepted a gift of baby clothing from a well-wisher in Cambridge, England. According to today’s statement, the duchess will require a period of rest after leaving hospital, suggesting her public schedule will be scaled back.
Bets are already being placed on the name the couple will give the child. Ladbrokes Plc made Elizabeth the favorite name at 8-1, meaning a successful 1-pound ($1.6) bet would yield an 8-pound profit. John and Charles were the most popular bets for a boy’s name, offering odds of 10-1. Dublin-based Paddy Power made Mary, Victoria and John their joint favorites at 8-1, followed by Diana, the name of William’s mother, and Frances.
The duke and duchess, who started dating when they were students at St. Andrews University in Scotland, married in London’s Westminster Abbey on April 29 last year, with 1 million people lining the streets of London and millions around the world watching on television.
Kate has helped modernize the image of the royal family, living with William before their marriage and being photographed shopping in a supermarket in Anglesey, north Wales, where the couple live due to William’s job as a Royal Air Force search-and-rescue helicopter pilot.
The duchess courted controversy in September after photographs of her sunbathing topless while on holiday with her husband at a private estate in the south of France appeared in the French edition of Closer magazine. The royal family successfully sued the publication for breach of privacy.
Kate was the first woman from outside royalty or the aristocracy to marry so close to the throne for 350 years. When William becomes Britain’s monarch, she will be queen.