The Duchess of Cambridge’s pregnancy has been hailed as a “new beginning” for the royal family with the baby due to eventually reign as monarch, regardless of whether it is a boy or a girl.
Congratulations for the royal couple were delivered from across the world after St James’s Palace confirmed the pregnancy. The news broke after the Duchess was taken to hospital with hyperemesis gravidarum – acute morning sickness.
It is believed Catherine, 30, is less than 12 weeks pregnant.
The Duke remained by her side at the King George VII hospital in London last night until 8.20pm. He made no comment as he left.
The baby will be third in line to the throne when it is born in the summer.
Due to a proposed radical shake-up of the monarchy’s rules of succession, the sex of the royal infant will not determine whether he or she wears the crown.
Ingrid Seward, editor-in-chief of Majesty magazine, said : “It’s very important for the monarchy. This is the way forward. This is the first child who will be an heir to the throne whatever sex they are. It’s a new beginning.”
In October 2011, David Cameron announced that the 16 Commonwealth countries where the Queen is head of state had agreed to give female royals the same rights of succession as their brothers.
St James’s Palace would not say when the royal couple became aware of the pregnancy, only saying “recently”.
A statement 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.”
Hyperemesis gravidarum is a rare condition which causes severe vomiting during pregnancy. The severity of the vomiting can cause dehydration, weight loss and a build-up of toxins in the blood or urine called ketosis. The condition is treated by giving women fluids intravenously and by anti-sickness tablets.
It affects 3.5 per 1000 pregnant women and can cause women to vomit blood. The condition is thought to be caused by elevated levels of human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG) hormone produced after conception.
It usually continues past the first three months of pregnancy and can end by week 21.
A Scots mother last night said she almost died as a result of hyperemesis gravidarum as her blood was not clotting.
Natalie Robb, of Perthshire, has launched a petition at the Scottish Parliament, calling for specialist nurses in Scotland to deal with the condition. Ms Robb, a nurse, who was vomiting around 40 times a day, said: “I fell pregnant at 22 expecting a normal pregnancy as I was young and healthy.
“I got a shock when I began being severely sick at just six weeks, which continued my whole pregnancy.”
Bookmaker William Hill said it will pay out a “small five-figure sum” after many people had bet on a 2013 royal baby. Frances and John are joint favourites in the baby name stakes, at 9/1. Charles, Victoria and George are 10/1.
Changing the law on succession will involve amending some key constitutional documents, such as the Bill of Rights and Coronation Oath Act of 1688, the 1701 Act of Settlement and the 1706 Act of Union with Scotland.