It was an announcement which caused an outpouring of joy across the world, but the young couple at the centre of it all, Prince William and his beloved “Princess Ordinary”, have asked that coverage of her pregnancy should not be intrusive.
As one of our most senior royal correspondents, I shall of course be respecting those wishes while providing little-known background information to this happiest of royal events.
1. The young couple have been “holding back” so far as starting a family is concerned until the Queen’s Jubilee year was well advanced. “Her Majesty is surprisingly competitive when it comes to press coverage,” a senior equerry told me. “The memory of Diana’s extraordinary popularity has take time to fade.”
2. Because the British love a royal flutter, leading bookmakers are offering odds on the name of the baby. Palace-watchers can also take a punt on the length of labour, the weight of the baby, the identity of the gynaecologist, and the type of delivery.
3. The Queen dislikes the word “pregnant”, finding it vulgar and excessively graphic. Visitors to the palace are encouraged to use the expression “in the family way”.
4. When the announcement first came through, journalists at the Daily Mail spontaneously stood up and applauded. Royal enthusiast Quentin Letts was said to be openly weeping.
5. The baby will be the first truly classless infant to be born into the Royal Family. “The Middletons are perfect in-laws,” according to a family friend. “Respectable, well off, slightly dull, and with a few ‘colourful’ members of the family to keep the press happy.”
6. Clear leader among projects being pitched to royal-hungry publishers is Pippa’s Baby Book by Pippa Middleton. Said to include practical, down-to-earth tips for mums and dads, it includes such advice as “When you have a baby, you will sooner or later need to buy a ‘cot’ – that is, a very small bed with sides to stop your baby falling out! Dangly coloured things – what we call ‘mobiles’ – can be a nice added touch.”
7. Prince Charles has confided to close friends that he prefers “sprogs” when they are old enough to go out shooting with him.
8. Carefree Kate is much more relaxed with the Palace press corps than royals of the older generation. She has asked her favourite scribe – modesty forbids me to mention his name! – to organise a baby shower to which journalists including Hugo Vickers, Dickie Arbiter and Ingrid Seward will be invited to bring presents. Nicholas “The Creepy Butler” Witchell is unlikely to be there.
9. When the royal couple move to Kensington Palace, their staff will include a full-time nanny who, it is planned, will belong to an ethnic minority. “Inclusivity is the name of the game,” a royal aide tells me.
10. In the unlikely event of mum-to-be Kate having twins, the Lord Chief Justice must by constitutional law be present at the birth to witness which is the older twin for reasons of succession.