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(SKY NEWS) – The Duchess of Sussex is expecting her first child in spring next year, Kensington Palace has said.
In a statement, the palace said that Meghan and her husband Prince Harry are “very pleased” with the news.
They added: “Their Royal Highnesses have appreciated all of the support they have received from people around the world since their wedding in May and are delighted to be able to share this happy news with the public.”
Meghan is believed to be around 12 weeks pregnant.
The baby will be seventh in the line of succession, bumping Harry’s uncle, the Duke of York, into eighth place.
But the baby will not be a prince or princess unless the Queen steps in to issue a Letters Patent ahead of the birth.
The news comes just hours after Harry and Meghan landed in Sydney at the beginning of their 16-day tour of Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific.
Close family were able to congratulate the couple personally after being informed on Friday, the day Princess Eugenie married Jack Brooksbank.
The Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall and Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are said to be “delighted” for the couple.
Sky News royal correspondent Rhiannon Mills is in Australia with the couple and said: “This tour was going to be busy enough – I think this is going to bring another exciting focus to it all.”
Mills added: “Doria Ragland (Meghan’s mother) is incredibly happy about the news and looking forward to welcoming her first grandchild.”
But when a palace spokesman was asked if Meghan’s father Thomas Markle had been told, the reply was “no comment”, Mills said.
It is thought that Meghan has not spoken to her father since her wedding.
There had been concerns that travelling to the Pacific Islands would present a risk to a pregnant Meghan, as both Fiji and Tonga have experienced outbreaks of zika virus, which can lead to birth defects.
Mills said: “All we were told is, as with any of these royal visits, medical advice has been taken into consideration and there will be no changes to the programme.”
Meghan, 37, has made no secret of her wish to be a mother, saying in a 2016 interview that it was on her “bucket list”.
On a trip to Belfast less than two months before she married Harry in May, the former actress joked when she was shown an innovative range for newborns: “I’m sure at some point we’ll need the whole (lot).”
Prime Minister Theresa May was among those to congratulate the couple, writing on Twitter: “My warmest congratulations to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex on the happy news they are expecting a baby in the spring.
“Wishing them all the best.”
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who will climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge this week with Harry, tweeted: “What fantastic news! Australia is thrilled for you both.
“Looking forward to sharing in the joy during your stay down under.”
The US Ambassador to the UK Woody Johnson, tweeted: “Happy news to wake up to on a Monday morning – congratulations to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex!!”