Kensington Palace on Monday confirmed that the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, is pregnant with her third child with husband Prince William. The couple has not announced an official due date.
Royal watchers are already speculating about the gender of Royal Baby No. 3, who will join siblings Prince George, 4, and Princess Charlotte, 2. In betting that started mere minutes after the palace’s announcement, odds on the unborn baby’s gender were equal at 10/11 for a boy and a girl, according to London-based betting house William Hill. Alice was the top choice for the baby’s name with odds at 8/1, followed by Elizabeth at 10/1, James at 12/1, and Arthur at 12/1.
The gender of the Duchess’s third baby is especially notable this time around, since he or she will be the younger sibling of Princess Charlotte. Years ago, a new baby brother would have usurped Charlotte’s place in the line of succession to the throne, but that’s no longer the case. If Royal Baby No. 3 is indeed a boy, he will not displace Charlotte, but fall in line behind her. That’s due to a new law introduced shortly after the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge married in 2011, that gave any daughter of a future U.K. monarch equal right to the throne. It took effect four years later. Its passage, approved by all 16 Commonwealth countries where Queen Elizabeth is head of state and the U.K. Parliament, upended a centuries-old succession law that said that the first-born son of a monarch would inherit the crown. Only if a monarch had no male heirs—as was the case for the Queen’s father George VI—could the throne be passed to a daughter.
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“The idea that a younger son should become monarch instead of an elder daughter simply because he is a man…is at odds with the modern countries that we have become,” David Cameron, then the U.K. prime minster, said at the time of the law’s passage
Interestingly enough, the day before the Duchess’s pregnancy announcement, the imperial family of Japan confronted its own succession plan as Princess Mako made official her engagement to a commoner. Her marriage to a non-royal means she’ll forfeit her royal title, as dictated by a controversial law. Her departure from the imperial family highlights the royals’ existential crisis. Unlike Britain, in Japan only men can inherit the Chrysanthemum throne, and the imperial family is running out of male heirs.