Nearly a week into her maternity leave, the Duchess of Cambridge is officially a lady in waiting, putting royal watchers on edge ahead of the birth of her third baby.
While Kensington Palace has said only that the royal child is due in April, Prince William revealed last week that the birth could be imminent.
Knighting Beatles member Ringo Starr at Buckingham Palace, he reportedly told the musician the Duchess is due to deliver “any minute now”.
And last week the parents-to-be launched a new website titled The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s third baby, ready for sharing news and photos.
The pregnancy was made public in September when the Duchess, 36, was forced to cancel a public outing because of severe morning sickness.
Kate hasn’t been seen outside her home at Kensington Palace since March 22, when a palace spokesman confirmed her engagements that day were “her Royal Highness’s last” before her baby’s arrival.
The Duchess went out in casual chic fashion, rocking towering suede Jimmy Choo heels, a Goat coat and skinny jeans for work.
Her last jobs? Cheering on husband Prince William, 35, at wheelchair basketball and sharing a recipe for butter chicken during a cooking session with a community group.
Now Kate’s focus is on the impending birth of the fifth in line to the throne, but at least one of the Cambridge family isn’t facing up to the new arrival so well, according to the Duchess.
In late February, showcasing her baby bump in a blue Jenny Packham coat and dress during a hospital visit in London, Kate joked William “is in denial”.
She isn’t expected to be seen in public until Prince Harry weds Meghan Markle on May 19 at Windsor Castle – apart from the traditional photo outside St Mary’s Hospital Paddington, where she is expected to give birth.
Both Prince George, 4, and Princess Charlotte, 2, were born at the hospital’s private Lindo Wing, which charges $9599 for the first 24 hours if a baby is born naturally, or $12,415 for a Caesarean section.
In 2015, a mother who gave birth at the exclusive unit reported to Mamamia that its perks include “an a la carte menu, proper coffee, scrumptious body products and thick white slippers”.
But both times she’s given birth there, Kate hasn’t hung around long to enjoy the facilities.
She left the day after giving birth to George on July 22, 2013.
With Charlotte, Kate was admitted at 6am on May 2, 2015, and gave birth at 8.34am. At 6.12pm, the new princess and her proud mother headed for home.
In line with the Cambridges’ staunchly royal and conservative choice of names, leading UK bookmaker Coral has Mary as the 4-1 favourite for a name.
Alice is second in current betting followed by Victoria at 8-1.
Mary and Elizabeth are also among the favourites.
If the baby is a boy, William Hill has installed Arthur as punters’ top choice followed by Albert and James.
Once the baby is born, the Queen and other members of the royal and Middleton families will be told the good news.
The royal communications team will email media organisations the timing of the birth and the baby’s sex.
The news will then be announced via royal Twitter and Instagram accounts before a paper announcement is placed on an easel outside Buckingham Palace.
Souvenirs including official plates, tea towels and postcards will no doubt follow.
When George was born, the Royal Mint produced 10,000 solid silver coins, which cost £80 ($147), and 2013 22-carat gold sovereigns, priced at £800 ($1472). Both sold out.
Babies born on the same day as George were also entitled to a free “lucky” silver penny minted for the occasion.
To honour Charlotte’s birth, the Royal Mint produced four different coins ranging in price from £13 ($24) to £1800 ($3312).