As the world waits, read everything you need to know about the next royal birth and how the Duchess of Cambridge continues to dazzle. The Duchess, née Kate Middleton, has a plan firmly in place to help her cope with this challenging stage in her life. She's been a real trooper, elegantly breezing through engagments while eight months pregnant. Here the experts reveal how Kate does it.
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1. HER DUE DATE
It's the tantalising secret that has kept the nation guessing since the second pregnancy was announced last October: when will the new royal baby be born?
Looking bumptastic in a black and white polka-dot dress during a visit to Brookhill Children’s Centre in southeast London, Kate gave volunteer Christie Osborne the best clue yet.
"I told her she is beautiful and that she's got a tiny little bump," said Christie. "When I asked her when her baby is due she said mid-to-end of April." Cradling her bump during the engagement, Kate was also overheard saying: "Not long to go now."
2. BUILDING HER NEST
With their second baby on the way and in full nesting mode, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are looking for an experienced housekeeper to run what will become their main family home – their newly refurbished ten bedroom Georgian mansion, Anmer Hall in Norfolk. After the departure of their former housekeeper Amy Wood, who resigned from her position after fewer than five months, and with a new baby Prince or Princess arriving in a matter of weeks, time is of the essence to ensure the smooth running of their stately pile on the Queen's Sandringham Estate.
Until a new housekeeper is appointed, Kate's mother Carole Middleton is holding the fort, helping out with grandson George, stocking up on groceries – such as William's favourite sea salt chocolates – and making sure the new baby's nursery is ready.
3. HER LAST JOB
Kate's last day of official engagements before the birth included a poignant ceremony in south-east London. Kate and Prince William were taken on a tour of the Stephen Lawrence Centre in Deptford by Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon – the mother of Stephen, 18, who was murdered in 1993 in a racially motivated attack. The Duke and Duchess expressed their support for Baroness Lawrence, who set up the centre, home to the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust, in memory of her son.
Kate will then have roughly a month to put her feet up before her new baby arrives. Before Prince George was born Kate spent much of the last month at her parents' home in Berkshire – for her second pregnancy, she has a choice of retreats, Anmer Hall or Kensington Palace.
4. HER MATERNITY STYLE
She set the bar high for maternity chic during her first pregnancy and the second time around, the Duchess has done it again, looking effortlessly elegant as she mixes new outfits with old favourites.
As one of the most photographed women in the world, Kate has been expected to come up with fashions that are both stylish and can accommodate her growing bump – and she's managed it with ease. In doing so, she has relied on her favourite labels, including Alexander McQueen, Jenny Packham and Alice Temperley, for her formal, tailored looks, as well as maternity wear label Séraphine for everyday ease.
"The Duchess has been poised and elegant as ever throughout this pregnancy, sticking to her classic feminine style," says Cécile Reinaud, Séraphine’s founder and designer, who points out that when the Duchess was in the latter stages of her pregnancy with her first child Prince George, who arrived in the middle of summer, the weather had been much warmer.
"So we saw lots of stylish summer dresses," she says. This time around, because Kate has been out in winter and early spring, she has been wearing a lot more coats. "The Duchess has always had a knack for selecting the perfect outfit to fit the occasion, and has a great feel for the level of formality required," Cécile says. "She's translated her style effortlessly for pregnancy, opting for pieces which emphasise the empire line and flatter her figure. "And it's great to see her recycling some of her best maternity outfits – she's worn our Florrie floral print dress more than once," she adds, referring to the outfit Kate wore in January at a coffee morning and again in February for a visit to a children's centre.
"I think everyone recycles their favourite outfits; there are some looks that are just too good not to wear again." Designer Sara Madderson, who describes Kate's style as "feminine, polished and classically stylish" and whose woollen maternity dress the Duchess wore in January, agrees. "As maternity wear by definition has to have a finite shelf-life, recycling key pieces in later pregnancies is a great way of maximising one’s investment," she says.
5. HER FITNESS
We know that Prince George has already enjoyed going to the Buckingham Palace swimming pool with his mother and he will also be able to use the pool at Anmer Hall, too, after the property's renovation. But Kate will be reaping the benefits, too. Swimming is the perfect work out for expectant mothers, Olympic swimmers Rebecca Adlington and Sharron Davies tell HELLO!.
Gold medallist Rebecca, who is almost seven months pregnant with her first child and plans to have a water birth, tells us: "You're weightless in the water so if your back is starting to hurt it relieves the pressure. It's the only time you're comfortable!". Mother of three Sharron suggests that Kate keeps swimming right up to the due date. "It is the best form of exercise and it's very calming too." Kate does other exercise, too, including taking walks with George and, according to reports, she has practised yoga and Pilates in pregnancy, too.
6. HER ROYAL GLOW
As she enters the final stages of her pregnancy, the Duchess looks more radiant than ever. Her skin is glowing, her eyes are sparkling – but what are her beauty secrets? With regular facials and a great skincare routine Kate uses minimal make-up, instead preferring just a touch of Yves Saint Laurent Touche Eclat and her favourite Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturiser.
She was seen purchasing Lancôme Advanced Génifique Serum when it was first launched and caused such a storm that it sold out within days. Kate is regularly seen at Peter Jones in London stocking up on her favourite ranges.
While those who take personal, hands-on care of her skin are fiercely loyal and rarely speak out, HELLO! beauty editor Nadine Baggott went undercover to discover a few of her secrets. The future Queen is a fan of Heaven skincare and was introduced to it by the Duchess of Cornwall, who regularly indulges in pampering facials. Heaven founder Deborah Mitchell often travels to Highgrove to treat both Camilla and Charles with her bee venom-based products.
"It is Mother Nature's Botox; the bee venom that softens any fine lines," she says. Kate has also been a fan of Karin Herzog skincare products, a range often found in salons and spas that is based around oxygenating the skin, so is ideal for anyone who flies a great deal and spends time in a city. "The Duchess uses the Professional Cleansing, the Vita-A-Kombi, the Vita- A-Kombi 3 spot zapper, and the Oxygen Face cream," Julie Cichocki, the former head of the UK arm of the company, has said. But Kate's glow is clearly not just pregnancy related but the result of good genes and a great skincare regime, too. It is serving her well in the final weeks of her pregnancy.
7. HER 'LOVE DRUG'
There's a spring in her step, a smile on her face and a glow that shows she's feeling good, but it's not just down to the excitement of knowing she'll soon be holding a new baby that's heightened Kate's mood. As her due date draws near, a special love hormone has been flooding through her body and it's all part of nature's way of preparing the royal mother-to-be for the important bonding process with her little one.
"Oxytocin is the feel-good hormone that helps us do this," leading fertility and pregnancy expert Zita West tells HELLO!. "In the weeks before delivery, women can experience a happy, positive feeling of euphoria as endorphins are produced, which could be why Kate is looking so well." As well as enhancing the way we feel, a rush of endorphins also acts as a natural painkiller and gears the body up for the trauma of giving birth, adds Zita, whose clients have included the Countess of Wessex, Kate Winslet, Ulrika Jonsson, Stella McCartney and Jemma Kidd.
"So much is happening hormone-wise towards the end of pregnancy," she says. "Its purpose is to get the body and baby ready for labour." Hormones can also help pregnant women to look radiant. "Most women find their hair and nails look great when they're pregnant and Kate's hair is looking glossier than ever," Zita says. "Her skin definitely has a glow about it – a healthy diet is obviously helping her and she must be taking vitamins, but hormones really play their part here."
8. HER LUSCIOUS LOCKS
Kate's hair has always been her crowning glory, but her long chestnut tresses have never looked fuller, shinier or more luxuriant – and it's all because she's expecting a baby. Celebrity hair colourist Daniel Galvin Jr tells HELLO!: "Pregnant ladies carry more blood than usual and as there are more nutrients in the blood to feed the baby, and blood is also responsible for feeding the hair, the Duchess' locks are glossier than ever. She has a wonderful mane and looks sensational. "Her hair is versatile, too. Putting a bit of backcomb on the top and wearing a lower bun works a treat for her."
However, Kate inadvertently exposed a few greys during her pregnancy and, through her hairdresser Richard Ward, opted for an organic vegetable dye to conceal them. "I recommend organic vegetable dyes to my pregnant clients," says Daniel, who numbers Amanda Holden, Kelly Brook, Jane Seymour and Holly Candy among those in his appointments book.
"They disguise grey hair very well and add shine. A few weeks before my wife Suzanna gave birth to our son, I coloured her hair with vegetable dye. It’s kinder to the scalp and when you're expecting a baby like the Duchess, you need to steer clear of harsh chemicals and bleaches and avoid treatments such as Brazilian blow-drys, because hair is more sensitive during pregnancy." Daniel, who has developed an organic and skincare range alongside Kate's father-in-law the Prince of Wales for the royal's Duchy Originals range, tells us that he can even tell if a client is pregnant before she knows herself. "When the blood changes due to pregnancy hormones, it changes the colour of the hair a fraction of a hue," he says. “It can go lighter or darker, and the same could have happened to the Duchess' hair. "The colour also changes slightly after giving birth. As for those greys, some of my clients have reverted to their natural colour after giving birth."
9. HER BIRTH PLAN
With the Duke of Cambridge about to start his full-time job with East Anglian Air Ambulance, the royal couple may be choosing to spend the last few weeks of Kate's pregnancy in Norfolk. The air ambulance helicopters are based at Cambridge and Norwich airports – both within 50 miles of William and Kate's Sandringham Estate home, Anmer Hall. The plan is for the Duchess to once again give birth in the private Lindo Wing of St Mary's Hospital in Paddington, central London, where newborn Prince George made his first public appearance, close to her apartment in Kensington Palace.
The baby will be delivered by royal gynaecologist Alan Farthing, who assisted Sir Marcus Setchell at the birth of Prince George. However, should the Duchess go into labour early and be unable to make it back to London, contingency plans are being put into place, HELLO! has learnt. Kate spent the end of her first pregnancy staying at her parents' house in Bucklebury – during which time the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading was on standby, although eventually was not needed. This time around, hospitals with maternity units close to Anmer Hall – such as The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn – have been put on a similar alert.
10. HER HUSBAND'S JOB
As Kate prepares to put her parenting skills to the test – juggling the demands of both a newborn and a toddler – we can reveal that her husband's new job as an air ambulance pilot will start soon. Sources close to William say he will begin working full time with the East Anglian Air Ambulance Service before Easter. Having worked as an RAF Search and Rescue helicopter pilot for seven years, the Prince has been "longing" to return to flying, and he has now passed the Airline Transport Pilot Licence exams that will allow him to transfer his skills to the air ambulance charity.
When he completes a period of mandatory training, he will begin operational shifts, attending emergencies across the region. It signals a busy period for the devoted father, who will not only be supporting his wife through the arrival of their second child, but will also be continuing his royal duties on behalf of the Queen, both in the UK and overseas.