In this Friday April 29, 2011 file photo Britain’s Prince William and his bride Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, leave Westminster Abbey, London, following their wedding. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are very pleased to announce that the Duchess of Cambridge is expecting a baby, St James’s Palace officially announced Monday Dec. 3, 2012.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

LONDON — Britain doesn’t have to wait any longer: Prince William’s wife, Kate, is pregnant.

St. James’s Palace made the announcement Monday, saying that the Duchess of Cambridge — formerly Kate Middleton — has a severe form of morning sickness and is currently in a London hospital. William was at his wife’s side.

The news drew congratulations from around the world, with the hashtag “royalbaby” trending globally on Twitter.

The couple’s first child will be third in line to the throne — behind William and his father, Prince Charles — leapfrogging the gregarious Prince Harry and possibly setting up the first scenario in which a female heir could benefit from new gender rules about succession.

The palace would not say how far along the 30-year-old duchess is, only that she has not yet reached the 12-week mark.

Palace officials said the duchess was hospitalized with hyperemesis gravidarum, a severe form of morning sickness that affects about 1 in 200 women and can lead to dehydration or worse if left untreated. They said she was expected to remain hospitalized for several days and would require a period of rest afterward.

Until Monday’s announcement, the duchess had shown no signs of being with child. She was photographed just last week bounding across a field clad in black high-heeled boots as she played field hockey with students at her former school.

Still, speculation has swirled about when she and William would start a family from almost the moment they were wed on April 29, 2011, in a lavish ceremony at Westminster Abbey.

The attractive young couple is immensely popular — with William’s easy common touch reminding many of his mother, the late Princess
Diana — and their child is expected to play an important role in British national life for decades to come.

The confirmation of Kate’s pregnancy caps a jam-packed year of highs and lows for the young royals.

They have traveled the world extensively as part of Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations and weathered the embarrassment of a nude photos scandal, after a tabloid published topless images of the duchess.

Joe Little, managing editor of Majesty magazine, said the news ended a year that saw the royal family riding high in popular esteem after celebrations of Queen Elizabeth II’s 60 years on the throne.

“People enjoyed the royal romance last year and now there’s this. It’s just a good news story amid all the doom and gloom,” he said.

The pregnancy comes after a 2011 decision by the leaders of Britain and the 15 Commonwealth nations endorsing new rules that give girls equal status with boys in the order of succession. Those changes make Kate’s pregnancy all the more significant for the royal family, said Ingrid Seward, editor-in-chief of Majesty magazine.

“This is the first child who will be an heir to the throne, whatever sex they are,” she said. “It’s a new beginning.”

The Harry Potter movie franchise has always been flawed, both for casual viewers and die-hard, ultra-critical fans of the book. Screenwriter Steve Kloves usually manages to anger the die-hards by watering down plot points, misattributing character motivations and inventing his own uninspired dialogue where J.K. Rowling’s would have served infinitely better. At the same time, Kloves often confuses casual moviegoers by providing abysmally muddled plot exposition.

Similarly, when watching “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” — part one in a two-part volume — average viewers with little experience with the book’s intricate plot will often find themselves lost. It’s clear the filmmakers have assumed audiences are familiar enough with Harry’s story and done away with some of the trickier exposition. However, seasoned Potter fans will not only be able to follow the story, they will finally fully recognize the spirit of Rowling’s beloved characters embodied on film. For fans, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” will certainly be lauded both as the most faithful and the most stylistically stunning of the franchise.

Warner Bros.’ decision to split the final installment into two separate films is surely a factor in the noticeable increase in quality. Many cynically regard the move as a marketing ploy designed to milk as much money from the finale as possible, as it may well have been. However, splitting the film into two volumes has creatively liberated Kloves and director David Yates. No longer pressured to pack an entire book’s worth of complex plotting, intense haracterization and bewitching visuals into a single film, Yates has seized the opportunity to make part one of “Deathly Hallows” a contemplative character study.

The film is considerably more leisurely than its predecessors, which all sacrificed character development in favor of cramming in as many of Rowling’s complex plot twists as possible. As a result, most of the series’ incredibly nuanced and fully formed characters — Sirius Black, Remus Lupin, Severus Snape and yes, even the crucial figure of eminent headmaster Albus Dumbledore — are reduced to two-dimensional cardboard cutouts that merely serve to help Harry defeat whatever manifestation of Lord Voldemort faces him that year.

“Deathly Hallows” brilliantly breaks this tiresome pattern. Yates dedicates most of his generous time allotment fleshing out central characters, most notably the iconic trio of Potter, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger. It’s a brave move, considering the young actors that have portrayed the trio since before they hit puberty haven’t always delivered the most consistently convincing performances. In particular, Daniel Radcliffe as Potter sometimes appeared awkward and unnatural in his more emotional scenes, and Emma Watson had an unfortunate tendency to overact as Hermione.

Here, too, “Deathly Hallows” is a standout among past installments. Each young actor has exceeded all expectations and is finally performing on par with the adult British acting legends — Helena Bonham Carter, Gary Oldman, Bill Nighy and Alan Rickman, among others — they work alongside. “Deathly Hallows” is the first film in which all three leads truly embody their counterparts from the books. Radcliffe seems infinitely more comfortable on camera, Watson tones down her performance to great effect, and Rupert Grint as Ron has easily shed the class clown act and taken on his more serious role with grace.

“Deathly Hallows” is undeniably a road movie. The three young heroes are often adrift and aimless in the wilderness, passively buffeted along their path by various dark forces at work as they attempt to seek and destroy the elusive horcruxes, each containing a portion of Voldemort’s soul. Their destruction will render Voldemort mortal and defeatable. Adventures at Hogwarts are a thing of the past; the three don’t even step foot in the iconic castle this time around, a considerable departure from Rowling’s previous formula.

The installment cuts down on the clunky, awkwardly rushed transitions of previous films and allows for some incredibly compelling character moments. A quietly poignant scene invented by Kloves for the movie in which a hopelessly lost Harry and Hermione share an emotionally charged dance is especially affecting.

The humor of Harry Potter is also at its best here — no longer do gags feel forced as they occasionally have in the past. Comedy is juxtaposed expertly with tragedy, making “Deathly Hallows” the franchise’s most emotionally dynamic film.

As confusing as “Deathly Hallows’” plot may be for the average viewer, casual fans and super-fans alike will appreciate the film’s emotional and visual flow, outstanding performances and arresting landscapes. The tragic cliffhanger ending will leave audiences desperate for part two of “Deathly Hallows.”


Grade: A