Yesterday’s Royal announcement that the Duchess of Cambridge is pregnant had Fleet Street’s finest scrambling for an angle. On the face of it you might have thought it was hard to do much with “Kate Pregnant”. It’s Kate. She’s pregnant. What more is there to say?

Charlie's been waiting a long time, then there's William…

Day One of the yarn is a bit early yet for “Kate’s baby scare”, even for the British newspapers, and there’s nothing to suggest the Duke of Cambridge isn’t responsible for her condition, so no dice there either.

So congratulations to the London Daily Telegraph for being the first to grasp the implications of her hospitalisation with morning sickness, asking “Could it be twins for the Duchess?”

“Mothers-to-be who suffer from the condition,” the paper explained “are three times more likely to have a multiple birth than other women.”

Modern medicine being what it is, the expectant parents will soon know if twins are indeed in their future, if they don’t know already, though they might choose to keep the news to themselves.

There is of course no point in talking about fairness when it comes to monarchy. Nothing about the institution is fair. Indeed, you could argue its randomness is rather the point. But even so, there could be no better demonstration of the capricious nature of fate than to have one’s whole life mapped by whether one was first or second into the world.

It may not even come down to that given how many twins these days are born by caesarean. Imagine the awesome responsibility of being the attending doctor. The first one out of the sun roof will be in line to be King or Queen of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Jamaica, Barbados, the Bahamas, Grenada, Papua New Guinea, Belize, the Solomon Islands, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Antigua and Barbuda and Saint Kitts and Nevis, not to mention Tuvalu - though it is up to them if they are still monarchies by the time the royal child ascend the throne. And in Tuvalu’s case, it might not be an island, more a spot on the map of the Pacific marking where a island used to be.

With prizes such as those, it is tempting to see this baby as the winner of life’s lottery, whereas the second place-getter will get ... what? Lower expectations for a start, which, as I have never tired of pointing out to my own younger brother, is to be counted among life blessings.

What else? A spell in the armed forces is likely to feature, probably followed by a lot of golf. Perhaps the odd to trip to Vegas unwinding with plenty of new friends. Perhaps in this case, if you could give advice in utero it would be “hang back”.

Especially as whether boy or girl, the third in line to the throne is likely to have a while to wait.

If Prince William makes it to 80 - the life-expectancy of a British male - he or she will be 50 before they get a crack at the top job.

But, given his family history, the chances are the Duke of Cambridge will make it long past 80, as long as he stays off the fags. Prince William’s grandmother, the Queen, is still going strong on the throne at 86, as is her husband the Duke of Edinburgh, 91. His father, the Prince of Wales, is a very fit 64-year old non-smoker who drinks moderately and has been living on organic food for at least the past 30 years. His great grandmother, the Queen Mother made it to 101. So 50 years might be a conservative estimate of how long the new edition has to wait to fulfil his or her destiny.

It is tempting to speculate about how different the world will be when that day dawns. Predicting the future is a mug’s game of course, but I’d be prepared to bet - a bet I am unlikely to be around to collect - that the prospects for Wills and Kate’s baby are unlikely to change as much as Prince Charles’s have over the course of his life.

When Charles was born in 1948, India, Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) and Pakistan (East and West) were still monarchies, having only just ceased being ruled from Britain. In that year Britain still ruled all of its African colonies, as well as Malaysia and Singapore.

Looking at the list of countries reigned over by our present Queen, it’s hard to see any of them dropping off the list by the time her grandson pops his clogs with the exception of likely-to-be submerged, Tuvalu.

Canada? Not going to happen. They’ve got enough constitutional tensions without worrying about who their head of state of is. New Zealand? I’ve never met a Kiwi who doesn’t still have a British passport in their sock drawer. They’re not going anywhere. Of course you can’t rule out one or two kingdoms dropping off in the Caribbean, but otherwise I think the kid’s inheritance is looking good.

Australia is certainly not going anywhere either. Indeed as the 1999 referendum recedes into the distances, it looks more and more as though the republican fever is passing. Certainly recent polls on the subject suggest so.

The best barometer of republican sentiment here, however, is the number and frequency of royal visits. In the 1990s, when Paul Keating loomed large in the land, they almost stopped coming altogether. But when the old gargoyle popped up last month to declare we still needed to become a republic, one was reminded that we see a lot more of the royals these days than we do of him.

Indeed who can be sure Kate and Wills didn’t put their three-hour stopover in Brisbane in September to good use and that our next sovereign but two was not conceived at Brisbane Airport?

Comments on this post will close at 8pm AEDT.

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31 comments

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    • KimL says:

      02:45pm | 05/12/12

      Time for a Republic, nice they are having a baby but with 7 billion people on the planet its hardly a novelty.. they need to move here to get the baby bonus

    • Anjuli says:

      01:01pm | 05/12/12

      I am so over celebrity pregnancies ,you would think no one else had a baby.
      As for succession to the throne I think it is to be ratified next week.
      It will not make any difference to my life so why get all excited about it all.

    • Robert S McCormick says:

      12:50pm | 05/12/12

      As we all know Katie is the First Woman Ever to Have A Baby!
      She is the First Woman Ever to Have Endured Morning Sickness.
      It has been suggested that she became pregnant just 2 months ago (at the beginning of October)
      You do realise, don’t you, that we will have to put up with all the crap about the progress of this pampered, spoilt woman’s pregnancy until, at least June 2013?
      Millions of women around the world have had millions of babies. Some have had pregnancies which they sailed through. Some have had mild Morning Sickness, some have had a terrible time with it. Millions of women have not had the extreme luxury of a battalion of Specialists, doctors, midwives to take care of them. Millions have not even had any medical attention at all.
      What about the extraordinary emotional pain which ordinary Mums & Dads go through when they lose a baby?
      What about the all those millions of women who go through the agony of labour without any medication to relieve the pain of actual birthing their children?
      Let’s not get our knickers in a knot over Katie & her pregnancy. She will have the best possible care & attention money can buy.
      The trashy “Women’s Magazines” (What an insult they all are to Women) will make a fortune out of this so-called “Event”.
      What absolute nonsense to have the head-lines in the papers screaming:
      “World awauts rare Royal heir”.
      Rare? No it’s bloody well not! There’s Charles, then Willy, then Harry, and a whole bloody army of Royal parasites who are waiting in line behind them just in case!
      The Adelaide Advertiser wasted the Front page & then 5 full pages on this nonsense.

    • Ben says:

      04:39pm | 05/12/12

      >As we all know Katie is the First Woman Ever to Have A Baby!

      Jee-zus, doesn’t every workplace have one of those. And then when it comes time to show off their little poppet, you can guarantee every woman on the floor will be out of action for the hour.

    • Sir Viv says:

      12:33pm | 05/12/12

      “Indeed who can be sure Kate and Wills didn’t put their three-hour stopover in Brisbane in September to good use and that our next sovereign but two was not conceived at Brisbane Airport?”

      ...er and your point is? Oh, silly me, bravo. Aussie angle found! Excellent work Sir.

      *smashes head on desk*

    • Bruno says:

      11:32am | 05/12/12

      Hopefully by that time this colony will have become a nation on its own feet.

    • A Concerned Citizen says:

      05:16pm | 05/12/12

      The Republic will never get through because supporters of a Republic are divided into two camps
      -People that are terrified of practical change, and will vote for the most stringently conservative model only.
      -People that don’t care about silly symbolism, but would only support a model that brings practical benefit to the Australian political system, and vote down whatever rubbish about what name we should give our Governor-General (the single most useless and expensive person in all of Australia- ‘president’ or not).

    • Bruno says:

      03:28pm | 05/12/12

      levi - i’m not going to read all that rubbish, i read the first couple of sentences and the last. I don’t believe I mentioned anything to do with the aboriginals or the british I dont care who settled this modern colony first whether it was the mamalukes or the alaskans it would be nice to not have their flag on my own. As far as sovereignty is concerned the only thing we have done independent recently of those who for the past 200 years have forced us along to war is abstain from the recent UN vote. As far as standing on our own two feet. You and the real dave answered that the other day in your responses to what if foreigners tried to invade us. Btw did you read my responses to that. Yes you read correctly we are a colony who after 200-odd years cannot stand on its own two feet. I’m not bagging out the place, my parents have given their future generations to this country, I just wish it had more pride and respect for itself. I wish it had a go more son. I wish it showed its independant spirit abit more. I wish as a nation it behaved slightly more yobboish and boganish whilst the people were slightly better educated.

    • Levi says:

      01:08pm | 05/12/12

      Are you seriously saying that Australia is not a sovereign nation, that we don’t stand on our own feet, or that we somehow rely on the monarchy?

      That’s the problem with supporters of the republic, you can’t actually name one quantifiable benefit to getting rid of the monarchy. You just don’t like the monarchy for the sake of it.

      The monarchy is purely ceremonial, they have no real power. Figureheads that remain and help us to preserve an important part of our history and maintains a tradition. At the very least it brings in tourist dollars and media attention when the Royals visit.

      One of the main gripes I have is Australian Republicans are quite often (though not always) on the left side of the political spectrum, with all that they portend with their self-hating, white-guilting, multikulti forcing agendas. They say get rid of the flag, get rid of the monarchy, then we can use the national cirriculum to enforce our own standards of historical revisionism.

      They see the monarchy as the last historical legacy of 200 years of hard work, toil, sacrifice and suffering by the early settlers, colonisers and soldiers of this land whom we all have to thank for the high standard of living in a prosperous, western, democratic, modern Australia. Yes the aborigines suffered, but thousands of ethnic groups have been on the receiving ends of invasions, EVEN THE BRITISH!! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harrying_of_the_North

    • David Morris says:

      11:19am | 05/12/12

      The most reliable recent poll was conducted by UMR with the objective question: “Do you support or oppose Australia becoming a republic?”  48% support a republic and 39% are opposed.

    • Seano says:

      10:42am | 05/12/12

      It’s sad to think that this child will almost certainly one day be king or queen of Australia having not been born here, grown up here, paid taxes here, voted here and likely spent little time here.

      I wish the kid all the best of course but I also wish he/she was not our future unelected head of state.

    • Seano says:

      12:59pm | 05/12/12

      That’s a pretty dumb comment Gregg, we’re always going to have a “head of state” name me one successful western democracy that doesn’t have one.

      The difference is that whilst many of those other countries choose who will be their head of state and what their role will be we get stuck with some privileged pom we had no choice in and who doesn’t represent us in any way.

    • Gregg says:

      12:35pm | 05/12/12

      What is sadder is that we even need a head of state at all but seeing as we have what we have, it is nothing to be sad about.

    • KH says:

      10:26am | 05/12/12

      The 1999 referendum was deliberately derailed by Howard, who nominated a means of achieving a republic with little or no debate.  Theoretically, there could actually be a majority who want to get rid of the monarchy - first we need to find that out, then debate how it might be achieved - they are two different questions, neither of which has been resolved one way or the other.  We’ll see what happens when Queen Camilla takes her throne…..........

    • Esteban says:

      06:48pm | 05/12/12

      A concerned citizen. In the context of the massive bloated beast our Government is the cost of the GG is an irrelevance.

      I think you are very wrong on the usefullness of the GG.

      You just have to look at the orderly manner a minority Government was formed at the 2010 election.

      Google up the role of the GG and the reserve powers and you will find that the GG is essential to stability rather than useless.

    • A Concerned Citizen says:

      05:08pm | 05/12/12

      Then you have people like me, who would only support a republic if it meant some practical improvement to Australia.
      I would only ever vote for a Republic if it meant at least one of the following
      -Binding CIR identical to Switzerland became a constitutional right
      -NO appointed politicians, OR Symbolic politicians, OR Governor-General-type roles, as they are completely useless and a horrible waste of taxpayer funds (so all 1999 proposals instantly lose my vote)
      -We completely abolish the parliamentary system (which is a cronyistic mess)  and replaced it with independent, directly-elected ministries (a far better system as the ministers would actually have to reflect what the people want from EACH area without contaminating other areas).
      In other words, a system that is actually better (and more democratic and transparent).

      Anything less is nothing but a feel-good gesture and a waste of my time- as such I will vote “NO” every time I am forced to go to the polls if the only proposal is a bit of symbolic fluff.

    • esteban says:

      02:04pm | 05/12/12

      KH. My negative sentiment for a directly voted president is so strong that I would vote NO in your plebiscite to avoid the possibility of that model getting up.

      Australia has a very stable democracy under the present system and we continue on with it and do very well. It is no big deal on a day to day basis.

      Change the name of the GG to President and make it an appointment of the parliament and you have got yourself a ripper of a republic.

      We carry on with our stable democracy as we have for the last 112 years.

      A Presidential election with a platform to differentiate yourself from other candidates and the resltant mandate?

      Not for me KH so to avoid that risk I am a NO vote to the plebiscite.

      It is up to the republicans who foolishly voted no at the referendum to understand the issue a bit better and vote YES to the same referendum question if we are lucky to get another try in our lifetime.

      The model must be settled first.

    • Bob from the bush says:

      01:55pm | 05/12/12

      Why would you want a republic with a president? ? Becaus it has worked sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo well in the USA, NOT! ! ! The USA has the worst president since Kennedy & the re-elected him! !

    • KH says:

      01:15pm | 05/12/12

      You don’t have a referendum to find out the first question - this could be done as a plebiscite (at the time of an election when people have to vote anyway) - the consitution simply could not be changed from that, thus there is no risk of getting something you didn’t want - it would however determine if a debate should go ahead on the subject.  The principle of wanting a republic, and the way it would be achieved are two different questions - the first one is easy - the second one is a longer debate, with any plans going through several iterations before arriving at any options - the options would then go to a referendum.  That was the issue with the 1999 vote - a lot of people didn’t agree with Howards proposal even if they were republicans - the option was put there as he is a monarchist and didn’t want it to get over the line - it muddied the waters, guaranteeing that even if the majority thought we should be a republic, they would split their vote because there had been no real debate about the method of achieving it, and the only option was half arsed.  This does not mean that in principle, the majority of people don’t think we should jettison the monarchy.

      A simple yes/no vote would determine the first question - you don’t need to know how it would be done at that stage, but you could have a serious debate about the subject knowing that the sentiment is there to change.

    • Anne71 says:

      01:01pm | 05/12/12

      I’m not a monarchist by a long shot, but at the same time, I think we have far more urgent issues to deal with at present than who should be our head of state. It would be different, of course, if the Queen or her successors had any direct influence on our affairs, but she doesn’t/ they won’t. They’re merely figureheads.

      A republic will happen eventually, though. Maybe not necessarily in our lifetime, but it will.

    • Gregg says:

      12:32pm | 05/12/12

      ” Theoretically, there could actually be a majority who want to get rid of the monarchy - first we need to find that out, then debate how it might be achieved - they are two different questions “

      You have one big problem there to resolve for yourself for I reckon you will find most other people will see the two as very related and will not be in favour of voting for something where the detail is unknown.

      Like who in their right mind would want something like the US where a President, the leader of the country is off on a limb from the legislators?
      I reckon if we have a PM you could say we hardly need a governor general or a President and do away with heaps of pomp and ceremony and the waste of $$$$$ that goes with it.

      We could probably even do away with the federal government in the form it is and have an election of state and territory governments with senators to a common standard and then X numbers of representatives from the states forming a federal executive and save heaps of $$$$$ more.

    • Esteban says:

      11:37am | 05/12/12

      The problem with what you propose KH is the many people like me.

      My first preference is for Australia to to be a republic but only in the form that we voted on in the referendum.

      My second preference is to stay with the monarch.

      Obviously my third preference is a directly elected president.

      If i was asked your question without knowing the form the republic would take then I would, with some degree of regret, be forced to vote NO.

      I will never vote for a popular election for a president or even vote yes where that outcome remains possible as per the question you propose.

      Sorry KH it was not Howard who derailed the referendum. It was the republicans who voted No at the referendum.

      I acknowledge it is more comfortable to many people to blame Howard rather than themselves for being duped.

    • Media Watch says:

      10:20am | 05/12/12

      I like, the Australian media, who say let’s find out the medical term for morning sickness and then have a Doctor appear on the television explaining that the medical term means morning sickness!  Now THAT’s television.

    • JoniM says:

      03:29pm | 05/12/12

      Well Tory preferred the medical term…........“copped a dodgy prawn !”
      At least that is more descriptive of the symptoms !

    • John says:

      09:28am | 05/12/12

      “The first one out of the sun roof will be in line to be King or Queen”

      If the twins are a boy and a girl, then the boy gets to be King regardless of who gets out first.

      But what if they are Siamese twins? We could have a two headed King (or Queen). That would be good for Tasmania.

    • JoniM says:

      03:25pm | 05/12/12

      Love your work, Kika !

      My only query is the usual monarchy one…...who is the father ?

    • Kika says:

      01:24pm | 05/12/12

      What if it’s a hermaphrodite?  Then it would have to be a Quing

    • gobsmack says:

      10:33am | 05/12/12

      “But what if they are Siamese twins?”

      They’d need another set of crown jewels.

    • KH says:

      10:24am | 05/12/12

      Jay - wrong.  The law has not changed yet - an agreement was reached to change it, retrospective to 2011, but it actually hasn’t been done - in this country, I think all the states have to change their laws first, then the federal govt can change it or some crazy thing, opening the door for states to extort stuff from the government in exchange for the rule change, probably….............

    • Mahhrat says:

      09:59am | 05/12/12

      As a Tasmanian, I approve this joke smile

      No I don’t, shut up you imbecile.

      *sshhh*!! not.on.the.internet!!!

    • Jaz says:

      09:56am | 05/12/12

      The queen and parliaments in the commonwealth changed the rules of succession a few years ago now it is the first born regardless of gender who ascends

 

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