“Extinguish all rational thought,” said John Walsh in The Independent. Forget about the government’s latest budget plans, and the fallout from the Leveson Inquiry into the unseemly doings of our national press. This week we learned that a royal baby was on its way, and it “instantly eclipsed all other news.” Some sections of our ever-vigilant press had, in fact, already sensed that something was afoot with Kate and William. Last week, the Duchess of Cambridge appeared in public with a new haircut. “A woman’s hair is a barometer for her emotions,” one newspaper sagely noted, and “a cut often signals a radical shift in an individual’s life.” Suspicions were strong over at Hello!, too. Not only had the couple been spotted “laughing together as if they had a wonderful secret,” but William had accepted the gift of a baby’s onesie from a well-wisher without “hurling it to the ground and stamping on it.” The obvious conclusion: Kate must be pregnant! The couple had planned to make their news public at Christmas, but brought it forward when the duchess—who is not yet 12 weeks pregnant—was admitted to the hospital suffering from acute morning sickness.

Only last week, Kate was photographed playing field hockey in high heels, during a visit to her old school. “I salute her,” said Bryony Gordon in The Daily Telegraph, because her condition—hyperemesis gravidarum—is no picnic. Sufferers (many of whom, incidentally, go on to have twins) feel ghastly, and can be sick up to 30 times a day. This often leads to hospital treatment, as mother and baby are deprived of nutrients. But the duchess will surely get the best care, and chances are that next summer, we will be reading about the birth of a future king or queen. For because of a scheduled change in Britain’s law of royal succession, this baby will be third in line to the throne, regardless of its gender, after its grandfather Prince Charles and its father. 

If William and Kate feel they live in a fishbowl now, they’re in for even more intrusive scrutiny in the future, said Valentine Low in The Times. News of Kate’s pregnancy made headlines around the world, and prompted messages of congratulation from everyone from her hometown butcher to President Obama. At one point, 1,000 tweets per second were being posted to #royalbaby. Until the birth, Kate can expect relentless media interest in everything, including her maternity clothes and her choice of nursery furniture, to say nothing of the fraught selection of a name. None of that is going to be easy for the duchess, said Harry Mount in The Daily Telegraph. But for the royal family’s spin doctors, it is “manna from heaven.” From its first steps to its first day of school, the royal baby guarantees the Windsor clan years of “rose-tinted coverage” that will help it survive into the 22nd century.