It was a rosy-cheeked Kate Middleton who took to the pitch in heels and a tartan coat-dress to play field hockey during a visit to her former private school on Friday. Composed and elegant, she also made a rare speech to open the new artificial turf.
In the hours that followed, however, the Duchess of Cambridge fell horribly ill while visiting her parents – who soon figured out she was suffering from morning sickness – in a nearby village in Berkshire. She was having so much trouble keeping anything down that Prince William decided to drive her to a hospital on Monday afternoon.
Up until that point, Kate's pregnancy had been a closely guarded secret despite months of intense speculation about a royal heir. But once the royal couple decided to seek medical treatment, they also began scrambling to share their news – with both their families and the rest of the world – far sooner than planned, according to reports in British media.
The Queen and Prince Charles were apparently told in hasty phone calls less than an hour before the palace issued a statement at 4:01 p.m. local time. And Prince Harry, who is stationed in Afghanistan, is said to have learned by e-mail that he will be an uncle and thus bumped down the line of succession.
Prime Minister David Cameron was handed a "little note" during an afternoon policy meeting at Downing Street and "found it quite difficult to keep it to myself," he later told reporters.
Royal aides said the decision to reveal the pregnancy "was very much driven by the Duke and Duchess," who knew it would be difficult to keep such news secret in today's Twitter age, the Daily Telegraph reported. "It's a very hard thing to go public at such an early stage, but they wanted to be open with people as much as possible," an aide said.
The official announcement said Kate's pregnancy "is in its very early stages" and did not reveal her due date. Aides said privately that she is less than 12 weeks pregnant, which is the traditional milestone for disclosure because it is the point at which the risk of miscarriage drops dramatically.
It is unclear whether Kate, who will be 31 next month, had even seen a doctor before she went to King Edward VII Hospital in London for intravenous fluids and nutrients for her acute morning sickness. Perhaps complicating the matter for a privacy-seeking duchess is that members of the Royal Family often use the same physicians. Kate is said to be under the care of Marcus Setchell, the Queen's former gynecologist, who also delivered the Countess of Wessex's two children.
Before Monday's change of course, according to media reports, the couple had planned to divulge that they are expecting the future monarch during the royal family's Christmas celebration at the Queen's Sandringham estate.
Instead, they rushed to tell their relatives before releasing an earlier-than-desired official statement – online and via Twitter.