* Royal couple's baby news met with hysteria, humour
* Expectant duchess spends second day in hospital
* Pregnancy likely to dominate tabloid press in Britain
By Mike Collett-White
LONDON, Dec 4 At least Britain's Prince William
and his wife Catherine have fewer things to worry about now they
have announced they are expecting their first child.
A day after breaking the news, the couple popularly known as
"Wills and Kate" received advice from the world's media and
public on what to call the offspring, what he/she/they will look
like, what to wear during pregnancy and even what the child was
thinking inside the womb.
In an instant reminder of the goldfish bowl of attention the
next generation of royals is destined to live in, newspapers
splashed the story across their front pages on Tuesday and
filled column after column with news, views and speculation.
"Extinguish all rational thought," the Independent
newspaper's commentator John Walsh wrote.
In his article entitled "A feelgood foetus?" he praised the
royal family's "impeccable" timing, temporarily diverting
attention as it has from Britain's battle with debt and economic
stagnation and a blazing row over press regulation.
Tabloid newspapers will relish the chance to cover every
twist and turn of the pregnancy and birth, and they have not
held back in their opening salvoes.
The Sun, Britain's biggest selling daily newspaper, gave a
lengthy account of the announcement concluding with a bizarre
photo-montage of what a royal heir might look like created by
the Sun's "graphic experts".
Not to be outdone, the royalty-obsessed Daily Mail dedicated
its first 13 pages to the topic of the couple, formally known as
the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and their baby.
Online it ran an analysis comparing two mock-ups of the
yet-to-be-born child. Washington-based Joe Mullins produced
celebrity-style "beauty" shots, while the MorphThing website
came up with significantly less flattering images.
Bookmakers quickly offered odds on the name of the newborn.
Elizabeth, the name of the reigning queen and William's
grandmother, looks a decent bet if it is a girl, as does Diana,
after his late mother, while Frances, John, Charles and James
are also among the most popular options.
But why stop at names? Odds are available on the date of the
child's birth, the identity of godmother and godfather, hair
colour, weight and which celebrity magazine will land rights to
the first official pictures.
SECOND DAY IN HOSPITAL
Amidst the light-hearted conjecture and celebrity-style
gushing, there is the more serious issue of Kate's health.
The 30-year-old, who married William in a fairytale wedding
last year watched by two billion people across the globe, stayed
for a second day in hospital on Tuesday to receive treatment for
acute morning sickness.
The prince, also 30, spent several hours with his wife on
Monday and returned to the King Edward VII Hospital in central
London on Tuesday. The duchess has cancelled official
engagements over the coming days as she recovers.
She has been suffering from Hyperemesis Gravidarum, a severe
morning sickness which experts said did not put the baby at any
increased risk but was slightly more common in mothers who were
Boy or girl, the first-born will become third in line to the
British throne after a decision last year to change the rules of
succession so that males no longer have precedence as heir,
regardless of age.
Reports speculated that the couple had been forced into
announcing the pregnancy early by the illness, and, in a royal
first, they did so via Twitter with the understated message:
"The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are expecting a baby."
Twitter quickly exploded in response, including spoof
accounts of the views of the queen and the baby itself.
"I may not have bones yet, but I'm already more important
than everyone reading this," was the Tweet from @RoyalFetus,
which already has nearly 9,000 followers.
The news may help erase the embarrassment this year of the
publication of topless photographs of the duchess, taken while
she was on holiday in France, in several European publications
despite attempts by Buckingham Palace to block them.
It is also likely to further bolster the monarchy's
popularity, already riding high from the 2011 wedding and Queen
Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee celebrations in the summer.
World leaders including British Prime Minister David Cameron
and U.S. President Barack Obama sent congratulations to the duke
and duchess, and foreign media swiftly weighed in.
On the world edition of the New York Times website, the
royal baby story appeared well down the front page yet was the
most viewed article on Tuesday.
In Italy, makers of the Naples' famous presepe dolls had
already turned out a pregnant Kate version of their celebrated
figurines, originally made for traditional Nativity scenes but
which have evolved into a running commentary on current events.
Italian television gave the announcement heavy coverage,
although ordinary people were less enthusiastic.
"You must be lucky to be concerned about this kind of
thing," said Rome resident Daniele Nicastro.
"Really, with all the problems we have, of all things you
come and ask me about this?"