She cheerfully models a "Baby on board!" button for the Queen while visiting the London tube ("I'll make sure I wear this at home," joked Kate), exchanges loving glances with Will while comforting the bereaved, rhapsodizes about cupcakes in a class full of schoolkids—those storied second-trimester hormones must be kicking in. As Kate
's plans for baby kick into high gear (she's shopping for her nursery in Kensington Palace with a move-in date set for early fall), the ever more radiant princess, 31, "feels she's thriving," says family friend Julia Samuel. Founder of the charity Child Bereavement UK, Samuel spent time with Kate and Will there on March 19. "It was like they showered starlight on everybody," she says, "because everybody who met them was left with a glow." Prince William
, get out your sunglasses: It'll only get brighter from here.
1. All Hail the Bump!
Ladies and gentlemen, the heir is apparent! And quite stylishly attired. The Royal Belly Watch has gone from disappointing (the naturally lithe Kate didn't show for sooooo long!) to dazzling as the Duchess makes maternity magic out of conventional designer wraps, empire cuts and coat-dresses. "She is test-driving ways to look reasonably stylish in the public eye," says Brit fashion commentator Hilary Alexander. "That's the example set by the monarch—one keeps on."
Wherefore art thou, bump? Well-hidden under emerald Alexander McQueen.
A barely there belly fills out the Whistles frock she wore to her official portrait unveiling.
Finally, a bona fide bump, proudly displayed by the fresh-off- her-babymoon princess.
Even a bell-shaped Goat coat can't hide it. Alexander predicts "trapeze" styles ahead.
2. Busy Schedule
After lying low while battling morning sickness early on, Kate now seems to be everywhere, from going green with the Irish Guards for St. Patrick's Day to campfire cooking with Scouts. All signs point to her working as long as she can and even taking on new charities—"meaty projects," says a Palace source, "that Kate wants to be involved with."
3. Carb Crazy!
While her beloved soy lattes are now decaf, Kate has indulged cravings both savory (cheddar crackers) and sweet (lavender biscuits) and even snacked on sugary twists with the Scouts March 22. In a Grimsby cooking class, she asked about cupcakes but had to settle for a frosted cookie—in the shape of a crown, of course.
4. Giving Birth the Royal Way
KATE WILL ENJOY ALL THE PRINCESS COMFORTS WHEN THE BIG DAY ARRIVES
WHERE SHE'LL DELIVER
It's widely expected Kate will follow tradition and go to the Lindo Wing of St. Mary's Hospital in Paddington, where William and Harry were born. The choice of many society mummies, its renovated private rooms vibe understated affluence, with satellite TV, concierge services and, says recent maternity patient Emily Vencatachellum, "none of that fluorescent lighting you get elsewhere." A showier option: Portland Hospital's posh bedrooms, where Victoria Beckham
, Claudia Schiffer and other celebs have birthed their babes.
Charles and Diana give the public a glimpse of newborn Prince Harry
outside the Lindo Wing on Sept. 16, 1984.
Perks include late-night room service, personal shopping and baby photos.
When the future King (or Queen) arrives, Kate will surely give a heartfelt thanks to fiercely private royal ob-gyn Alan Farthing (above). "Charming, cool, reliable," says friend Nick Ross of Farthing, 49. He'll copilot the delivery with the Queen's doctor Marcus Setchell, "a lovely old-school gentleman," says a royal source, "and very highly rated by the Queen."
MY BRUSH with a ROYAL BIRTH
Beverly Vosko (left) of Houston, an aunt of PEOPLE staffer Suzanne Zuckerman, gave birth in the Lindo Wing a day before Diana arrived in labor with Prince Harry
It wasn't very luxurious at the time—you shared a bathroom. But it was very exclusive. They cleared everybody out but me. I never saw [Diana], but I was told that because she was there, only my family could visit. There were tons of people outside. My 2-year-old asked, "Why is everybody clapping and screaming?" And I said, "Because Mommy had a baby!"
5. Luxe Kids Clubs
For early outings, Kate and her baby have opulent options: Maggie & Rose, founded by Kate's pal Rose van Cutsem (right, with daughter Grace in '09) and known as "the Soho House for Yummy Mummies," offers infants Jamie Oliver-inspired cooking lessons and Jackson Pollock-themed art classes. At the Baby Spa, newborns are bathed in purified water and pampered with baby massage. "The babies really enjoy it," says owner Laura Sevenus. "You can see by their little eyes."
THE BABY SPA
Near Kensington Palace, London's tiniest relax here.
Lady Natasha Rufus Isaacs and Lavinia Brennan
College pal Trini Foyle
6. Posh Pals—and Pippa!
Pregnancy can be a moody time, even for the steady-as-she-goes Kate. Not to worry, for this princess can turn to a tight circle of friends always available for tea and sympathy. They include Beulah London designers Rufus Isaacs and Brennan (who are reportedly creating royal maternity frocks), private secretary Deacon, fiercely loyal little sis Pippa and a trio of longtime pals—Foyle, Jardine-Paterson and Carter—who, a source says, "looked after [Kate] in the crucial early days and continue to do so."
7. Name That Baby
Diana and Elizabeth (Kate's middle name and that of a certain granny monarch) are favorites of oddsmakers. For a boy, the money is on George, for Will's paternal great-grandfather. A Palace source insists the couple aren't boxed in—"There are so many names"—but Irish Guardsman Lee Wheeler, who met Kate March 17, knows posterity's pull: "I said, 'I suppose you have to stick to traditional names.' " Kate changed the subject.
8. Parenting Prep 101
No royal title is quite as intimidating as New Parent, and the studious duchess has said she's boning up. The hottest how-to books in Britain (left) are familiar to fretting Americans too. Tatler features editor Sophia Money-Coutts bets Kate takes the strict route in The New Contented Little Baby Book: "Kate will lead a public life and want a routine."
9. Pampering Prince
Can he get any more charming? William, who braced his bride when she caught her shoe at a St. Patrick's Day outing, "really supports the duchess," says Samuel. Right down to sympathy cravings: Handed Easter chocolates on March 19, Kate promised to share but joked, "I will make sure William doesn't eat it all himself!"
IT'S YOUR TURN!
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