Kate Middleton is Pregnant

 The news that all of Britain has been waiting for — Will and Kate are pregnant! — is more than just a boon for the baby-mad media; it's a reassuring symbol of continuity for the monarchy and, by extension, the United Kingdom itself.

Girl or boy, it means a future sovereign for the British throne is on the way. It's only the second time in 1,000 years of English history that a reigning monarch, great-grandmother Queen Elizabeth II, would be alive at the same time as three generations of her future sovereign heirs. In effect, her already stable Windsor dynasty is bolstered again.

Nearly 20 months after their wedding, Prince William of Wales and his wife, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, are pregnant with their first child, the palace announced Monday, after the duchess was hospitalized with severe morning sickness.

The news was greeted with joy in the U.K., transforming stiff upper lips into broad smiles across the land, and especially among the media. The news of a thoroughly modern royal pregnancy spread in a thoroughly modern way: via Facebook accounts, TV screens in pubs and train stations, and news alerts sent to mobile phones. And Brits reacted with thoroughly modern sentiment.

"I did become quite excited," says Bev Isherwood, an assistant shop manager from North Yorkshire who was visiting London. "They seem like a very genuine and happy couple, and it just feels very right. ... I feel more happy for them as a couple than for the lineage going on."

The baby, due next year, will be third in the line to the throne, now that Britain's antique rules of royal succession have been changed to allow a first-born girl to succeed even if she has younger brothers.

So this, the most eagerly awaited royal baby since William was born in 1982, will follow grandfather Prince Charles, 64 (first in line), father William, 30 (second in line), and great-grandmother Elizabeth, 86. Once the baby is born, William's younger brother, Prince Harry, will move to fourth in line.

The palace said the royal family was "delighted" by the news, setting off an avalanche of congratulatory messages and tweets. British Prime Minister David Cameron tweeted that the couple "will make wonderful parents."

Even President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama weighed in, congratulating the couple on "the welcome news" through spokesman Jay Carney in Washington.

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