To think that last week royal watchers were distracted by her hair.
Note: This article is from the Guardian.
To think that last week royal watchers were distracted by her fringe. The Duchess of Cambridge had unveiled a slightly shorter haircut a few days earlier, but it was during a trip, fittingly, to Cambridge last Wednesday that she was first enticed into comment. She wasn’t sure about it, she told a member of the public who complimented her on the new style. “Duchess of Cambridge: I’m not sure about new hair” read the Daily Telegraph headline.
And yet it seems that beneath the long fringe so reminiscent, according to those royal watchers, of the style favoured by her husband’s late mother, the broad smile concealed a genuine secret. A little distance away in the crowd, Prince William responded to being handed a babygro by a member of the crowd with a teasing: “I’ll keep that!”
Speculation about the future occupancy of Kate Middleton’s uterus began almost as soon as she first emerged as a serious girlfriend of the young prince. Since the pair married in April 2011 it had reached an intensity not seen since Charles and Diana’s wedding. Diana at least did the decent thing by becoming pregnant within weeks of being married; it was not until many years later that she would speak about being so unhappy during that pregnancy that she had flung herself down the stairs at Sandringham.
By definition, however, it is the lot of a royal consort to provide a nation with a next-in-line, and, depressing as it may be, neither William nor Catherine can claim to have been unprepared for what was to come. For the former Ms Middleton that has meant 20 months in which every morsel to cross her lips, every polite response offered to impertinent questions about her fertility and sex life has been scrutinised by the tabloid press at home and overseas for signs of an imminent heir.
Wished good luck in starting a family when on her first royal tour to Canada, she responded: “Yes, I hope to.” Royal precedence, observers noted, meant she’d be knocked up within the year.
A polite refusal during a trip to Copenhagen of some proffered peanut paste – designed as emergency food for famine victims – was clearly a sign that something was up. “The duchess does not have a nut allergy, nor is it like her to appear rude,” an “onlooker” helpfully told the Sun. “The only explanation is that she is pregnant and has been told – like many expectant mothers – to avoid nuts.”
In November 2011 the duchess “fuelled rumours that she may be pregnant” by “repeatedly touching her stomach”. Moving to a bigger apartment in Kensington Palace last year was a clear sign children were imminent. Her 30th birthday in January led to barely concealed mutterings that she had better get on with it.
Meanwhile, those who cared filled time with wringing their hands. “Is Kate too thin to get pregnant?” asked the People. Doctors were pressed to offer their opinions. Columnists offered advice on how best to eat to “prepare for an heir”.
Others, denied an official announcement, simply did the job themselves. A company that makes commemorative dolls started making pregnant versions of its bestselling “Princess Kate” dolls a year ago in response, it said, to demand. In the US, People magazine published a cover story declaring the start of “Princess Bumpwatch 2012”. A US supermarket tabloid has declared the duchess pregnant at least four times in the past 18 months: “Pregnant Kate collapses”, “Pregnant Bride! … If it’s a girl they’ll name her Diana”, “Kate 95lbs and having a baby!”.
If it has put a strain on the royal couple, they have borne it gamely enough in public. Asked by a schoolgirl in Singapore in September how many children he would like, the prince replied, we were told, that “he was thinking about having two”. Learning that her “favourite bodyguard” was pregnant, Kate was said to have joked: “You beat me to it.”
Certainly the speculation must have seemed negligible compared to being photographed by a long-lens paparazzo while sunbathing in a private garden. Happily, the US magazine Star was able to offer the royal couple some comfort. “Scandal turns to joy: it’s twins!”; “Pregnant Kate gets thrilling news amid nude-photo uproar”. The article was accompanied by what appeared to be a digitally doctored photograph to make the duchess’s belly appear rounder.
The future that awaits their still unborn offspring seems depressingly assured.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010