(MCT) — LONDON — It may be the most acclaimed case of morning sickness in British history.
Buckingham Palace announced Monday that Prince William and his wife, Kate Middleton, are expecting their first child, who made his or her presence publicly known when the mother-to-be was admitted to King Edward VII Hospital in central London suffering from acute morning sickness.
The palace offered assurances that the condition, known to many an expectant mother, was not serious, although it added that Middleton was “expected to stay in hospital for several days.” The hospital was quickly and predictably besieged by photographers and video crews, who set up camp outside the front doors.
A royal pregnancy is big news in Britain, and there is an unprecedented element to this one. A change in the act of succession last October means that the child will have an eventual claim to the throne, regardless of his or her sex. Previously, the line of succession fell to the first-born male; girls became queen only in the absence of a brother.
The announcement on the Buckingham Palace website said Queen Elizabeth II and members of both families “are delighted with the news.”
Prime Minister David Cameron echoed their words in a Twitter feed. “I’m delighted by the news that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are expecting a baby,” he said. “They will make wonderful parents.”
Not to be outdone, the head of the opposition Labor Party, Ed Miliband, tweeted: “Fantastic news for Kate, William and the country. A royal baby is something the whole nation will celebrate.”
Speculation about when the couple might have a child has been rampant since their internationally televised wedding in April 2011. Some Britons have been less than coy about their desire for a new heir to the throne: When the duke and duchess made their first visit together to Cambridge last week, a woman handed them a homemade baby outfit emblazoned with the words, “Daddy’s little co-pilot.”
William is a helicopter pilot for the Royal Air Force. The couple live in north Wales.
Middleton was reported to be in the very early stages of pregnancy. She showed no signs of it last Friday, when she visited her old school in Berkshire and engaged in some impromptu field hockey practice, bounding about the field in calf-length, high-heeled boots.
(Stobart is a news assistant in the Los Angeles Times’ London bureau.)