Being godparent to the future King or Queen is a huge responsibility. But following the happy news that the Duchess of Cambridge is expecting, a lucky select few will be given the honour of being the new baby's moral compass and confidant.
Royal watchers are placing their bets on who William and Kate will chose to be godparents, and Pippa Middleton and Prince Harry are shaping up to be the most likely candidates. Tradition states that the 'best man' and maid of honour from a couple's wedding are usually offered the role. If this rule is followed, then the aunt and uncle-to-be are dead certs. Both played a pivotal role in 2011's royal wedding, are extremely close to the first-time parents and share a blood tie with their future niece or nephew. Kate's brother James Middleton could also be in with a chance. Outside the family, close friends of the royals' might do well to expect a phone call from the Palace. Kate may turn to her old friend from Marlborough College, Hannah Gillingham. William, Kate and Pippa all attended Hannah's Suffolk nuptials in the summer of this year, and she remains a close friend of the Duchess.
On Prince William's side, the names of Lady Rose Astor and her husband Hugh Van Cutsem, pictured above on their wedding day, are gaining credence. The couple's daughter Grace – known to the world as the disgruntled bridesmaid who covered her ears at the royal wedding – is already William's goddaughter and he may now return the favour to one of her parents. When it comes to returning favours, the Prince may also want to recognise Europe's other royal households, who previously bestowed an honour on him. In 1999, aged just 15, The Duke of Cambridge was asked to be godfather to Constantine Alexio, heir to the Greek throne, and attended the christening of the London-based royal, seen below.
While speculation about who Willam and Kate will choose as a confidant for their firstborn continues, one other pertinent issue has at least been settled. The government reached an agreement this week with all other Commonwealth countries to press ahead with a bill ending discrimination against women in the succession to the British throne. Now, the royal baby, whether a boy or a girl, will become heir to the throne after 15 other Commonwealth nations gave their consent to the change which initially favoured men. Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said the government would now introduce the Succession to the Crown Bill in the House of Commons as soon as possible.