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he happy news that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are expecting their second child came as a complete surprise to those outside the family. On 8 September they were forced to make a sudden announcement after 32-year-old Kate had to pull out of a visit to Oxford with her husband because she was unwell.

   Apparently the Duchess had the same degree of morning sickness as she did when admitted to King Edward VII Hospital in central London in late 2012 after discovering she was pregnant for the first time. Then, as now, it was revealed that she was suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum, an acute form of the sickness.

   William admitted his wife’s condition had been ‘tricky’ for ‘a week or so’ but hoped things would settle down. Kate meanwhile was confined to Kensington Palace, where she was monitored by a medical team headed by Alan Farthing, Surgeon-Gynaecologist to the Royal Household.

   The child, regardless of gender, will be fourth in the line of succession, pushing Prince Harry down to fifth and the Duke of York to sixth. Andrew’s daughters, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, will therefore be seventh and eighth respectively. The new baby Cambridge will be the Queen and Prince Philip’s fourth great-grandchild.

   Prince Harry, who was promoting his inaugural Invictus Games at the time of the announcement, said he hoped his brother and sister-in-law would be granted a bit of peace and quiet by the press, which I rather doubt will happen. When questioned on whether or not he minded about being pushed down the line of succession – thus reducing his chances of ever becoming King – ‘Great!’ was his response, with a big grin.

   ‘I think George will be over the moon,’ Harry added. ‘He will be thrilled to have a younger brother or sister.’

   I remember Diana, Princess of Wales telling me that Harry hated being the younger son and was always badgering her to have another baby, which sadly wasn’t to be.

   The last time a younger brother became King was when George VI acceded to the throne in December 1936, after Edward VIII abdicated to marry Wallis Simpson.

   The ‘spare to the heir’ does not always have an easy time within the royal family. Princess Margaret failed to carve out a happy life for herself under the intense scrutiny of being the Queen’s younger sister. Prince Andrew, second in line from 1960 to 1982, is still trying to find a successful independent role since leaving the Royal Navy in the late Nineties. His recent charm offensive on television in the USA may have won him some fans as he talked about his new role supporting young people, but it is nothing less than the royal family are expected to do.

   Andrew’s most positive attribute has been his enduring loyalty to his former wife, Sarah. He has supported her through all the public mishaps of their life, together and apart, which is a compliment to them both.


 
 
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