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Britain prepares for royal baby

The Duchess of Cambridge has made her final royal appearance before giving birth to the first child and the next heir to the British throne.

Britain prepares for royal baby

Dressed in a black and white Dalmatian print dress and black fascinator, Catherine Duchess of Cambridge stepped out in Southampton, on England’s south coast, yesterday to christen a new cruise ship, aptly named ‘Royal Princess’.

The Duchess solo royal duty consisted of cutting a ribbon tied to a 15 litre bottle of champagne, which in line with naval traditions, was smashed against the bow of the 3,600-passenger vessel.

“I name this ship Royal Princess. May god bless her and all who sail in her,” said the Duchess, prior to cutting a string and inaugurating the liner.

Organised by the cruse liner’s owners, Princess Cruises, the event symbolises the last official royal appearance by the Duchess before the expected arrival of her first child with her husband, Prince William, on July 13.

Interestingly, William’s late mother, Diana, the Princess of Wales, christened the predecessor to the Royal Princess in 1984.

Catherine, 31, has been under intense scrutiny about her impending arrival, which will also become the next heir in lien to the British throne. But the duchess was careful not to give anything away.

Earlier this year, a harmless slip of the tongue when she accepted a gift from a young well wisher for her impending arrival sent the media into a frenzy over the baby’s gender. “Thank you I’ll take this for my d…” was all that was needed to send speculation into overdrive.

In fact, speculation that the slip confirmed the Duke and Duchess – married in April 2011 – are expecting a girl, saw major bookmakers suspended bets on the baby’s gender only a few weeks after the slip.

Now all bets and attention have been focused on potential names for the future heir. Alexandra has come out the favourite, with Diana and Elizabeth also contenders.

The name Alexandra has a rich history in the royal family with Princess Alexandra, 76, a cousin to current monarch Queen Elizabeth.Queen Victoria’s son Edward VII also married Alexandra of Denmark in 1863.

George is the outright favourtie for a bouncing baby boy with July 17th the favoured date for the baby’s expected arrival.

Startlingly the bets don’t stop there. Betting agencies are even picking apart the method of the delivery for the newborn. Bookmakers said bets favoured the Kate joining the growing band of women dubbed “too posh to push” – opting for a caesarian rather than a natural birth.

A British glossy magazine also reported the duchess has considered using hypno-birth for her delivery. The method uses a form of self-hypnosis to control pain by learning techniques to boost production of pain-relieving hormones.

A spokeswoman for the royal family told reporters she was aware of rising speculation about the birth, but declined to confirm or deny any details surroudnignt he arrival of the third in line to the British throne after Prince Charles and his oldest son William.

“This is a happy occasion and there is lot of speculation about what the duchess might and might not do but this really is a private matter,” the spokeswoman said.

The baby is expected to be born at St Mary’s Hospital in central London – the hospital where Princess Diana gave birth to William, who turns 31 next week, and his brother Prince Harry.

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