After news broke Monday that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are expecting their third child, there’s been a fair bit of activity. From Prince George’s first day of school to Meghan Mark’s Vanity Fair cover to William and Prince Harry’s follow up visit to meet with Grenfell Tower residents on Tuesday. Between all of that and some of the conversation that’s sprung up online, I thought it was worth taking a look back at the timeline of Kate’s pregnancies with her first two children. After all, it’s been three years since we’ve had an announcement like this from KP and it’ll be interesting to see what precedent can tell us and how some things might change.
Back in November 2012, Kate and William had been married for about a year and a half, and the Diamond Jubilee festivities and a successful Southeast Asia tour were behind them. Kate debuted a new fringe and I remember seeing photos of her, particularly her in a green Mulberry dress, where I thought, hmm, is her face a bit fuller? But it was hard to say definitively because of the haircut.
Then, lo and behold, on December 3rd, the announcement came (from Buckingham Palace, actually) that Kate was pregnant with the couple’s first child. The news came because she was suffering from HG and was urgently admitted to Edward VII Hospital in London where William was snapped entering and exiting each day as photographers stationed themselves outside. On the third day, Kate’s parents and siblings stopped by to check in and, finally, on the fourth day, the 6th, Kate was released. She came out wearing makeup, stockings and her favorite pair of boots.
She spent the next couple weeks resting at Kensington Palace and her parents’ home in Berkshire. She made a short appearance at the BBC’s Sports Personality of Year awards on the 17th, glammed up in a green silk Alexander McQueen that I actually loved. She looked beautiful, but also a touch delicate and a very thin. And while it may seem strange that she turned up at an awards show in the middle of her illness, she was there for under a hour – swooped in to present the award and then ducked out early. I think the cause was important to her, she had a public obligation re: their program and she wanted to do her bit.
A few days later she and William were spotted attending a holiday party for Clarence House staff (the Prince of Wales’s residence). The couple opted out of the Sandringham Christmas festivities with the rest of the Windsors, instead opting to spend a quieter couple days with the Middletons. While Kate looked to be in better shape when attempting the CH party, she still looked a tad under the weather when she was photographed leaving church on Christmas day.
The next public sighting was when she attended Cirque Du Soleil with William and her family for her 31st birthday (Jan. 9). Her first full engagement since announcing her pregnancy was on January 11 when she visited the National Portrait Gallery for the unveiling of her first official portrait – a rather contentious piece of art, if you recall.
So, all told, from announcement to back in the swing of things with work, Kate was out a little over a month. But bear in mind that the Christmas holiday is usually wide open and January is a traditionally slow month for engagements. She worked steadily through the rest of her pregnancy before ducking from public view during the last few weeks, re-emerging with Prince George on July 22, 2013.
The second pregnancy announcement came on September 8, 2014. As we saw with today, it was announced as explanation for having to cancel an engagement and, accordingly, Kate’s calendar was cleared for the next several weeks. A two-day trip to Malta was scheduled for later that month, which was meant to mark her first solo overseas trip. She was forced to push it over concerns that the heat would be too much for her and William went in her place.
The announcement that she was bowing out came relatively late in the game considering the timing of when her pregnancy was revealed, which led many to guess she was feeling better and might be back at it sooner rather than later. In fact, Kate wouldn’t resume a normal working schedule until late October; she appeared to meet the President of Singapore in London with William.
That the HG was worse with Charlotte actually isn’t that surprising – the disease is generally more severe with girls. In fact, that Kate had it with George was seen as a sign that she might be carrying a girl since it’s more common for women expecting daughters. Another fun fact: if you have HG with one pregnancy, it’s entirely possible to not have it with subsequent pregnancies, but if you have it with two you’re pretty much going to have it with all of them. There might have been a chance with Charlotte that she’d have an easier go of it, but this time around Kate knew exactly what she was getting herself into.
I think the nature of the illness has confused some members of the public over the years, because she seems to pop up and then recede without resuming a normal schedule. The fact of the matter is, HG is a spectrum and while we don’t know where Kate falls on that, her hospitalization and the longevity of her convalescence indicates it was somewhat severe. Additionally, given the nature of HG (if morning sickness is a thunderstorm, HG is a hurricane), Kate likely has good days and bad days. Then there is the unpredictability of it and I doubt I need to paint a picture of why it would be risky for Kate to attempt to undergo an engagement with a horde of reporters following her around.
It’s also incredibly common for HG, like general morning sickness, to take hold in the first trimester and taper off in the second.
Kate made up for her long absence in her first trimester with Charlotte with a jam-packed autumn and winter. She carried out a slew of engagements wearing several brand new outfits rumored to have been commissioned for Malta and even accompanied William on a mini-tour of New York City that December. Charlotte was originally due in late April, so that month Kate quietly withdrew for the last weeks of her pregnancy and then, once again, re-appeared with the Princess on May 2, 2015.
Unlike with George, when Kate attempted to resume work as quickly as possible, she took a full maternity leave with Charlotte, taking advantage of the summer months to hunker down with her family in Norfolk. And while that timing can be rationalized and most don’t begrudge Kate her time with her children, the problem was that that gap, combined with her absence the previous early fall, started an intensified wave of negativity trained towards the couple for “dropping the ball,” so to speak.
The criticism continued throughout 2016 and this year was meant to be a fresh start for the family. Their children were a bit older, George was starting school, they were moving back to London and William was to begin a full-time engagement schedule for the first time. Then, on the first day of this new phase, Kate’s third pregnancy was announced and her engagement was cancelled. The commentary cropping up online is one of weariness – “here we go again.”
I don’t agree with that sentiment, but I do think the context in which it is being expressed is important. Personally, my view is that attempting to link Kate’s professional schedule with her pregnancies is just flat out wrong – not only incorrect, but hugely offensive. I think there’s a line and it’s not one I intend to cross.
So, with that out of the way, what can we expect with this pregnancy? If Kate is out through the mid-October, it’s a actually a pretty solid indication that she’s expecting a girl (though by no means a sure thing). Depending on how she’s feeling and what the nature of the engagement is, I think it’s entirely possible that she’ll pop up here and there by next month, but it’s very possible we won’t see her regularly until close to November. As for the foreign tour schedule this autumn, I think it’s fair game, but we’ll see how the Palace handles it.
The downside of all of this, of course, is that we’re in for another significant lull in Kate coverage. Right about now would be a great time for Harry to announce that engagement…