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Royal baby: Plain sailing for Kate after a troubled start to pregnancy

The Duchess of Cambridge had a troubled start to her pregnancy, but seemed to sail through the remaining months.

Initially public appearances were rare as she battled severe pregnancy sickness, but in her middle trimester Kate carried out a number of engagements, appearing happy and healthy as she approached the arrival of her first baby.

In the six and a half months following the announcement of her pregnancy in December 2012, Kate carried out 19 days of public engagements before going on maternity leave in the middle of June.

She admitted she was nervous about giving birth and divulged that her husband the Duke of Cambridge wanted a girl and she would like a boy.

William was intent on being at his wife's side and Kate is hoping for a natural birth but the couple wanted a surprise and do not know if the baby is a girl or a boy.

The Duchess's bump was slight even as she approached her third trimester, but it was mostly hidden beneath classic tailored coats.

She took up knitting ahead of the birth, but admitted she was not very good and said her baby was due in mid July, but added: 'Babies have their own agenda."

They came up with a shortlist of names, but Kate said it was "very difficult" and that her friends had been texting her ideas.

Sources confirmed the royal baby would be born at the exclusive, private Lindo wing of St Mary's Hospital in Paddington, west London - where Diana, Princess of Wales, had William.

News of Kate's pregnancy was announced on December 3 2012, when the Duchess, who was around two months pregnant, was admitted to the private King Edward VII's Hospital with severe morning sickness.

St James's Palace opted to disclose that Kate was expecting rather than face the news leaking out, meaning that at a time when most mothers-to-be keep their pregnancy a secret as they anxiously waiting their 12-week scan, Kate was having to announce hers to the world.

Doctors said she was suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum, which can cause dehydration, weight loss and a build-up of toxins in the blood or urine.

Meanwhile prank callers from an Australian radio station pretending to be the Queen and Prince of Wales managed to trick a nurse at the London hospital into revealing information about Kate's condition.

Jacintha Saldanha, the nurse who took the initial prank call and put it through to another colleague, was found dead in a suspected suicide later the same week.

Aides said Kate, who was released after three nights in hospital, and William were left deeply saddened by her death.

A fortnight later, Kate was well enough to make her first public appearance since leaving hospital.

She presented the BBC's Sports Personality of the Year award to cyclist Bradley Wiggins.

Christmas was spent with the Middletons in Bucklebury, Berkshire, and Kate and William did not attend church at Sandringham with the rest of the Royal Family.

The couple made a brief public appearance together in early January when they attended the unveiling of Kate's first official portrait at the National Portrait Gallery.

There were mixed reviews of the piece by Paul Emsley, with some critics describing it as dour and lacking sparkle, but the Cambridges were thrilled with the work.

St James's Palace announced that the baby was due in July and Kate, who was now in her second trimester and had had her 12-week scan, was said to be feeling better.

Making the most of the Duchess's improving health, William and Kate headed off to the Caribbean island of Mustique for a "babymoon", staying in a luxury villa reportedly costing £19,000 a week. But the paparazzi were lying in wait.

The couple were said to be disappointed when Italian gossip magazine Chi and other foreign publications used shots of Kate in a bikini with her slight bump on show.

Midway through her pregnancy, Kate was spotted browsing the maternity wear section at high street store Topshop. The month before that she apparently picked up some maternity jeggings in Gap.

There was a flurry of excitement when Booker prize winner novelist Hilary Mantel gave a lecture in which she referred to the Duchess as being as "gloss varnished" with a "perfect plastic smile".

Even Prime Minister David Cameron stepped into the row, saying the comments about "Princess Kate" were "completely wrong".

The Duchess, who was visiting the Hope House addiction treatment centre in south London, kept quiet.

She did, however, confess she was nervous about giving birth. Lisa, one of the women recovering from drink addiction at the centre, said: "I did ask her if she was nervous (about giving birth). She said it would be unnatural if she wasn't - she's human like us."

In January and February, Kate carried out just one public engagement in each month, but in March she under took five days of public royal visits.

William and Kate also travelled to Switzerland for a friend's wedding in the ski resort of Arosa.

During a visit to Grimsby, Kate seemed to let slip that she was expecting a daughter.

Accepting a teddy bear from a member of the public, she apparently replied "Oh is this for our d...? Thank you so much." Other footage suggested she actually said "Is this for us? Aw" instead.

But during a St Patrick's Day parade, Kate told a soldier that they did not know the sex, but that she would like a boy and William a girl.

Also in March, William and Kate visited the headquarters of Child Bereavement UK, exchanging hugs with bereaved parents and also meeting TV cook Mary Berry.

The Duchess also joined the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh at Baker Street underground station to mark the 150th anniversary of the Tube. She was given a "Baby on board" badge.

In snowy conditions, she visited a Scout camp in the Lake District to join other volunteers who were being trained.

During a two-day visit to Scotland in April, Kate disclosed she had taken up knitting ahead of the birth.

"I've been trying to knit and I'm really bad. I should be asking for tips," she admitted.

She also joined husband William and the Prince of Wales for a visit to Dumfries House in Ayrshire, where Kate was given a "Princess Catherine" doll by a bystander and expressed shock at the size of its hair.

As her pregnancy progressed, Kate was also working behind the scenes, choosing three more patronages - SportsAid, the Natural History Museum and Place2Be, a mental health charity for schoolchildren.

It was not until late April when she was six months pregnant that her bump became truly noticeable as she carried out the National Review of Queen's Scouts at Windsor Castle.

Dressed in a £1,065 blue patterned silk Erdem dress by Sophia Visconti, Kate's bump was also clear to see as she visited Willows Primary School on the deprived Wythenshawe estate in Greater Manchester in late April, when she also attended an evening reception at the National Portrait Gallery in honour of The Art Room charity.

At the Warner Bros Studios in Leavesden, Hertfordshire, where the Harry Potter films were made, she duelled with William after being given her own wand.

On April 29, the Duchess spent part of her second wedding anniversary celebrating Children's Hospice Week with a visit to Naomi House Children's Hospice in Hampshire, while William, an RAF search and rescue pilot, was on duty in north Wales.

The couple enjoyed a trip to Oxfordshire in May to attend the wedding of close friends William van Cutsem and Rosie Ruck Keene.

Kate joined the Queen for a garden party at Buckingham Palace and on June 4 gathered with the rest of the Windsors for a service marking the 60th anniversary of the Queen's Coronation at Westminster Abbey.

On June 13, Kate, in a dalmatian print coat, carried out her final solo engagement before the birth as she named a new cruise liner - Royal Princess - in Southampton.

She made her last public appearance before heading off on maternity leave at the Trooping the Colour parade, looking happy and healthy as she waved to the crowds during the carriage ride.

With the birth fast approaching, she decided not to attend the wedding of William's close friend Thomas van Straubenzee on June 22.

There was no early appearance by the baby, meaning Kate was able to enjoy a full month's rest, including spending time at her parents' Berkshire home, before the big day.

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