A Future Heir: Great Expectations for William and Kate

Prince William leaving King Edward VII hospital this afternoon after spending the day with Kate.

Prince William leaving King Edward VII hospital this afternoon after spending the day with Kate.

Since their wedding almost two years ago, there has been much speculation about when the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge would announce that they are expecting their first child. This happy revelation came yesterday, tempered by the accompanying announcement that the Duchess would be hospitalized for several days due to extreme morning sickness.

Kate’s condition was diagnosed as hyperemesis gravidarum, which affects one in 200 pregnancies and causes severe nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. While some in the press have grumbled that Kate is receiving special treatment due to her position and that she should just soldier on through the morning sickness like every other woman, the truth is that hyperemesis gravidarum is a serious medical condition that may require multiple hospitalizations during a pregnancy. Dehydration is the most serious danger since the severe nausea and vomiting make it difficult to keep enough fluid in the body, and can ultimately result in weight loss for the mother and a low birth weight for the baby.

While Kate seemed in good health during her last engagement on Friday, severe morning sickness can set in without warning.

While Kate seemed in good health during her last engagement on Friday, severe morning sickness can set in without warning.

After spending her second day in the hospital, St. James’ Palace announced that the Duchess is much improved today and will continue to receive treatment, for several more days. After spending two days at his wife’s bedside, Prince William emerged this evening looking in to be in considerably better spirits, even giving a brief smile to the assembled press corps across from the King Edward VII hospital in central London.

As soon as the announcement was made, speculation immediately began about the baby’s gender, possible names and whether Kate is carrying twins. The news that William and Kate are expecting also puts pressure on Parliament to change the succession law to ensure William and Kate’s first born, whether a boy or a girl, will become the future monarch. This bill would end primogeniture, the determination of royal succession by gender. This means that if William and Kate’s first child is female, she will ultimately become Queen and no subsequent male heir could succeed to the throne before her. Remarkably, progress is already being made when all Commonwealth realms agreed today that discrimination against women in the succession should be changed. The next step is for a bill to be introduced and voted on by Parliament.

I say that we should worry less about when the law will be changed or the odds on possible baby names, but instead take this amusing Royal Baby Quiz sponsored by The Guardian.

Congratulations to Duke and Duchess and best wishes to Kate that she is feeling better soon!

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