COLUMN: Baby joy for the Royal Family

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The world seemed to be taken by surprise last week when it was announced from Kensington Palace that the Duchess of Cambridge is expecting a baby – the couple’s third.

As with her pregnancies with Prince George and Princess Charlotte the news was announced earlier than the 12-week point, when she would have her fist scan because she is suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum – severe morning sickness – this means she has had to pull out of several public engagements.

While this will have caused some disappointment, hopefully people will understand because it is for a happy reason.

Indeed, since their wedding in 2011, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have proved very popular – something which has only increased with the arrival of their children. Anyone who has been to an occasion such as Trooping the Colour will have witnessed the affection for the young family when they have appeared together on the balcony of Buckingham Palace.

Another reason for the surprise was because it had been thought that the Duchess would increase the number of engagements she carries out as her elder children grew older and more duties were delegated to younger members of the Royal Family.

The Duchess was also forced to miss a milestone point in the family – Prince George’s first day at school – something I’m sure she will not have done lightly.

When the news was announced, I was asked in a radio interview if this is surprising and if there is protocol around the number of children the family are allowed to have.

The answer is that there is not. Although they may have felt under a degree of pressure to have a first child as the future heir to the throne, the number of children they choose to have is down to their personal choice as it would be for many other families.

Indeed, it is said the Queen had always wanted four children and the ten year gap between Princess Anne and Prince Andrew was down to the pressures of becoming Queen at the age of 25.

Each of the Queen’s children had two children of their own and of her other grandchildren: Peter Phillips has two and Zara Tindall has one. It seems to me no more than they had decided they would like another child and are now expecting one.

I’ve already been asked to speculate on names – something I am not keen to do because I’m nearly always proved wrong. If it is a boy, Philip would be a fitting tribute to Prince Philip now he has retired from solo engagements – but we have months to wait before we’ll find out.

Whatever the name, the new baby will be fifth in line to the throne after his/her grandfather, the Prince of Wales’ father, the Duke of Cambridge and elder siblings. One thing is for certain, it will make no difference if it is a boy or a girl.

Now the rules of succession have been changed to give females equal rights – there will not be a repeat of the situation with the Princess Royal, who is lower in the line of succession to the throne than both her younger brothers and their families.

I hope that the Duchess gets over her current indisposition quickly and we are able to welcome a healthy, happy addition to the Royal Family when the time comes.