Royal baby announcement marks dramatic break with tradition
December 4, 2012 -- Updated 1353 GMT (2153 HKT)
- Palace forced to announce Duchess of Cambridge's pregnancy after hospital trip
- Unclear when senior members of royal family, including the queen, were told
- Saunders: Pregnancy could be one of most significant in the UK royal history
Editor's note: Mark Saunders is a longtime reporter on the royal family and has covered more than 200 official royal engagements. He the author of several books on the royals, including "Prince Harry: The Biography."
(CNN) -- The news the Duchess of Cambridge is expecting a child marks a dramatic departure from previous royal pregnancies. For it is believed even the queen may not have been given the happy news.
Buckingham Palace were forced to make the announcement only after Catherine was taken to hospital suffering from acute morning sickness. Usually proclamations of royal births are posted on the gates at Buckingham Palace only after the 12th week of pregnancy.
But knowing it would be impossible to keep Catherine's visit to hospital a secret, Buckingham Palace took the unusual step of pre-empting press speculation and revealing the news immediately.
The announcement is in stark contrast to Princess Diana's first pregnancy, which was announced some six weeks after the queen had been informed, and after months of intense press speculation.
With royal baby, three wait for throne
A royal baby on the way
Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, left, meets 5-month-old James William Davies as she arrives at the Guildhall during her visit to Cambridge on November 28, 2012. Prince William and his wife, Catherine, are expecting their first child, the palace announced Monday, December 3. Click through this gallery to see the her interacting with the younger generation.
Photos: Kate's love for kids
Royal advisors are being surprisingly open about Catherine's condition, despite recent intrusions into her private life, including the publication of topless photos, which were condemned by Buckingham Palace. It is believed a new spirit of openness has been embraced by William and Catherine in an attempt to prevent the massive press interest and speculation that surrounded Princess Diana.
Prince William drove his wife to hospital earlier today and spent hours by her bedside. He left tonight looking tense but happy. Catherine is expected to stay in hospital for several days.
Catherine and William baby news sparks media frenzy
Sources said the couple are "incredibly happy but nervous." In a statement on their website William and Catherine said they were "delighted with the news."
It is unclear when senior members of the royal family, including the queen, were told about the pregnancy -- but a palace insider says Catherine's parents were already aware their eldest daughter was expecting because she was taken ill whilst staying at their family home in Berkshire this weekend.
Catherine's pregnancy could turn out to be one of the most significant in the history of the British royal family, for the child will accede to the throne even if she is a girl.
The child will not be subject to the centuries old law of primogeniture, which puts male heirs ahead of women.
Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron has agreed a deal to change the rules on the royal line of succession, which means male heirs will no longer be given priority.
News of the pregnancy was met with joy throughout the UK. Within minutes of the announcement being published on the royal couple's website it had crashed under the weight of traffic.
Photos: The Duchess of Cambridge's best looks
Today's five most popular stories
Part of complete coverage on
Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge
January 14, 2013 -- Updated 1833 GMT (0233 HKT)
The first official portrait of the Duchess of Cambridge has been unveiled - to a mixed reaction from art critics.
January 7, 2013 -- Updated 2243 GMT (0643 HKT)
British Vogue Deputy Editor Emily Sheffield talks to CNN about the Duchess of Cambridge's style and brand preferences.
June 25, 2013 -- Updated 1347 GMT (2147 HKT)
Britain's Prince William and Catherine Middleton are expecting their first child after 19 months of marriage, the palace announced Monday.
December 4, 2012 -- Updated 1400 GMT (2200 HKT)
"A nation's joy, a husband's nerves," exclaimed the Daily Mail, contrasting William's anxious wait at his wife's bedside with exciting news.
December 4, 2012 -- Updated 1746 GMT (0146 HKT)
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are intensely private; they are also the most famous couple on the planet. This presents a dilemma.
December 3, 2012 -- Updated 2309 GMT (0709 HKT)
CNN's Atika Shubert reports hyperemesis gravidarum, the pregnancy-related medical condition the Duchess of Cambridge has.
June 25, 2013 -- Updated 1359 GMT (2159 HKT)
CNN's Richard Quest explains how the birth of the baby the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are expecting will affect the royal family.
June 25, 2013 -- Updated 1358 GMT (2158 HKT)
The news that William and Catherine are expecting has positive implications for the future of the British monarchy, says Andrew Roberts.
June 25, 2013 -- Updated 1407 GMT (2207 HKT)
Until 2011, any daughter born to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge would not have enjoyed an equal right to inherit the British throne.
June 25, 2013 -- Updated 1350 GMT (2150 HKT)
The Duchess of Cambridge - formerly known as Kate Middleton - is the daughter of self-made millionaires from rural England.
November 21, 2012 -- Updated 1239 GMT (2039 HKT)
Wherever she goes, the Duchess is surrounded by photographers. This time, she stayed behind the camera.
May 4, 2012 -- Updated 1734 GMT (0134 HKT)
Has Britain's royal family learned from the legacy of Diana, Princess of Wales, as they protect Kate Middleton?
May 4, 2012 -- Updated 1734 GMT (0134 HKT)
Every time Kate Middleton steps out in public, the fashion world pays attention. Whatever she wears is an instant hit.
March 19, 2012 -- Updated 1949 GMT (0349 HKT)
The Duchess of Cambridge visits and formally opens The Treehouse, a children's hospice in Ipswich, England.
January 9, 2012 -- Updated 1728 GMT (0128 HKT)
As the Duchess of Cambridge celebrates her 30th birthday, CNN takes a look back at her childhood and her royal romance.