LONDON — The most widely anticipated pregnancy since Princess Diana's in 1981 is official: Prince William's wife, Kate, is pregnant.
St. James's Palace announced the pregnancy Monday, saying that the Duchess of Cambridge — formerly known as Kate Middleton — has a severe form of morning sickness and is currently in a London hospital. William is at his wife's side.
The couple's first child will be third in line to take the throne — leapfrogging the gregarious Prince Harry and possibly setting up the first scenario in which a U.K. female heir could benefit from new gender rules about succession.
The palace would not say how far along the 30-year-old duchess is, only that she has not yet reached the 12-week mark.
Not only are the attractive young couple popular — with William's easy common touch reminding many of his mother, the late Diana — but their child is expected to play an important role in British national life for decades to come.
William is second in line to the throne after his father, Prince Charles, so the couple's first child would normally become a monarch — eventually.
The leaders of Britain and the 15 former colonies that have the monarch as their head of state agreed in 2011 to new rules which give females equal status with males in the order of succession.
Those changes make Kate's pregnancy all the more significant, according to Majesty magazine's Ingrid Seward.
This is the first child who will be an heir to the throne whatever sex they are, she said. It's a new beginning.