Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 30 August 2014

Why Kate needs a pregnant pause from this hysteria

The Queen, apparently, was one of the last to know. The rest of us had already copped. It was, of course, coverage of The Fringe that did it. Coverage of what The Fringe might be covering to be precise.

'What is Kate Hiding Behind Her Fringe?' demanded one headline as bluntly as a decommissioned pair of hair-cutting shears.

Well, we all knew what they were implying, didn't we?

The Fringe may have stopped mid-cheekbone but the inference was it was there to disguise an expanding waistline.

Plus there was the nudge-nudge hint about the new vegetable hair dye Kate was using (pregnant women are advised to steer clear of harsh chemical dyes.)

And then that she chose to drink a toast in water at a dinner in Singapore. (No information in that report about whether she was actually offered alcohol by her hosts in the first place.)

Oh and the clincher. William happily accepting the babygro on his recent walkabout in Cambridge.

Forget the blue line on the test kit. There you had the real indicator that a new heir was on the way.

Like heads of state, political leaders and glossy magazine editors everywhere, who could fail to be delighted at Kate's news?

But there is also that part of you that thinks - the poor girl.

Given the scrutiny she and her waistline have been under for months - more closely monitored for signs of change than even the melting polar ice-caps - she and William will have an idea of the degree of media interest there will now be in the birth of their first child. (Or children, given speculation that it could be twins.)

The baby, if it's a girl, will make history under new succession legislation that would see her ascend the throne before any male siblings.

There is, then, legitimate public interest in the news of Kate's pregnancy.

But this news has only been broken to us all (including as it turns out, Her Majesty) because Kate is unwell and in hospital. Let's hope then, that she is ok. Her health and that of her baby has to be the priority.

The announcement has come in the very early stages of the pregnancy. The couple have pointed out that while they're understandably excited they're also nervous.

In that respect you really do feel for them.

Needless to say, however, the sensitivities of the situation have not dampened the enthusiasm of royal watchers who are already into obstetrics overdrive.

Tabloid readers now know more about Hyperemesis gravidarum, the complication of morning sickness from which Kate is suffering, than the average midwifery student. We're informed that among foodstuffs she'd be advised to avoid is shark. Shark! The girl can't even keep a digestive down.

The bookies are, inevitably, already taking odds on names and we've had an exhaustive rundown of traditional Royal birthing protocol including the rule which in the past required the Home Secretary of the day to stand guard in an ante-room as a sort of maternity invigilator.

Fortunately in these more enlightened times Kate will be spared the presence of Theresa May and her leopard skin kitten heels.

What she will not be spared is the months of scrutiny ahead. Global scrutiny too. Americans especially seem to be particularly excited by an announcement which has followed innumerable false predictions Stateside.

As one US website put it this week "Kate Pregnant - For Real This Time."

The fact that the vast majority of all this scrutiny will be warm-hearted and well-intentioned won't detract from the fact that it will also inevitably be wearing - particularly if her health problems continue.

In the circumstances, Kate and her hairdo and her bump and her baby deserve that extra wee bit of consideration. And for now, that extra wee bit of space.

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