A Royal Baby: A Special Report
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As the whole world knows, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge (née Kate Middleton), is pregnant. And it’s about damn time. At the time of the announcement, Kate was hospitalized for acute morning sickness and remained there for several days with William by her side before going home to Kensington Palace to rest.

By the by, supposedly William and Kate were planning to announce the pregnancy at Christmas, but the cat was let out of the bag early when the Queen and Prince Charles were told of the baby news by a quick phone call when Kate was on her way to the hospital. Prince Harry got an email in Afghanistan informing him of the event -- and the fact that he will soon no longer be third in line for the throne. It was then decided that the news would be made public.

The first of the Royals to comment on the good news were the Earl and Countess of Wessex -- Edward and Sophie. The Countess was “absolutely thrilled,” while Edward said he had “deep, deep sympathy” for Kate and her morning sickness. Wait. Shouldn’t this be the other way around? What would Edward know about having his head in the loo every morning? Prince Charles, too, is said to be “thrilled,” and added, “It’s a very nice thought to become a grandfather in my old age, if I can say so.” Getting older and not being king is grating on Charles a bit, I think.

Well, one thing is for sure. William and Kate are going to have to move out of that hut they’re living in in Wales. Why, as I write this, Apartment 1A at Kensington Palace (Princess Margaret’s old digs) is being renovated for them to be ready in the summer, coinciding with the expected birth of the baby and the end of William’s term of duty with Royal Air Force search and rescue. And so they’ll go from the old farmhouse in Anglesey, where they do their own laundry and cooking, to a 21-room palace apartment complete with a nursery and staff quarters for their official private staff. No word on household staff yet, like whether they plan to have housekeepers or nannies. (Oh, come on, now. Do we look stupid?)

And, of course, everyone has advice for the new parents-to-be, including Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi of Jersey Shore fame. Snooki tells Kate, “It’s hard, but don’t stress out!” Uh, Snooki, Kate can’t stop throwing up. “Enjoy your pregnancy and be excited!” Snooki says. Uh, Snooki, Kate can’t stop throwing up.

Former Oasis guitarist Noel Gallagher says William should rejoin the army if he wants to get any sleep. “He’d have a “quieter life.” Nice. How many times did you make Father of the Year, Noel? Oh, and by the by, Noel, William’s in the RAF.

I, of course, have my own advice, but we’ll save that for another time.

So now the media frenzy begins. Palace or hospital birth? What will they name the kid? Where will the kid go to school? Forensic artists have even rendered images on what the royal baby might look like. Jeez, is nothing sacred? One article even referred to the pregnancy as “Middleton’s crumpet in the oven.” And the £19.99 commemorative mugs are already on their way to the kiln.

In a bit of a bizarre turn, while Kate was hospitalized, an Australian radio show made a hoax call to King Edward VII hospital pretending to the be Queen asking to speak to Kate -- and the hospital fell for it, despite the outrageously bad accents of the actors portraying the Queen and Prince Charles. The story line consisted of the Queen calling to speak to her “granddaughter” to find out how her “little tummy bug was going” while fake corgis barked in the background, a bogus Charles calling, “Mummy! Mummy!” The ersatz Queen was then heard asking, “When are you going to walk those bloody corgis?” and “Charles” responding, “Mummy, I’ll go and take the dogs outside.” Details of the Duchess’s condition were given to the hoaxers.

The radio station says it didn’t mean any harm; they were quite surprised they were put through and not hung up on, given the lousy accents. The station apologized, the hospital was reviewing its telephone protocol, and then, sadly – even though the Palace has said that at no time did it complain to the hospital about the incident – the nurse who put the call through to the ward apparently committed suicide, although as of this writing the police are calling her death “unexplained.”

I don’t know what to say about this, but I think Dr. Peter Carter, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, summed it up best when he said, “It is deeply saddening that a simple human error due to a cruel hoax could lead to the death of a dedicated and caring member of the nursing profession.”

You just never know, do you? This has put a damper on some happy news – and this column. And that upsets me.

Stay tuned.

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