The third in line

The new third in line to the British Throne is already set to be one of the most talked about, written about, analysed and critiqued babies in the world - months before he or she is even born.

Royal baby fever is sweeping the Commonwealth - and likely further afield - with the announcement this week Prince William and his wife Catherine are expecting a child. Book-makers are offering odds on the baby's name, sex, weight, hair colour, date and time of birth and its godparents; and forensic artists have already generated pictures of what the baby could look like.

The announcement has been highly anticipated since the couple's wedding in April last year and recent speculation the 30-year-old Duchess of Cambridge was pregnant. The announcement is a fitting one to end the Queen's Diamond Jubilee year, and will ensure the continued popularity of the Royals, already enjoying a rebirth through the glamorous duchess and her well-liked husband, and the pomp and ceremony around the successful jubilee events and tours.

Despite the global excitement, and the joy the news must bring to the couple and the rest of the Royal Family, there is no doubt the couple face a tough road ahead, not helped by the worrying start.

The announcement was made prematurely because of the duchess' hospitalisation for acute morning sickness, and it is early days in terms in the pregnancy, when there are still risks involved. Despite such an intensely personal experience, which is also physically and emotionally demanding, the couple continue to have the full glare of the world media spotlight on them.

While they will both have been fully aware of the interest the news would spark, it is to be hoped people will respect their privacy and they will not be hounded. Certainly, public opinion polls have shown the couple should be allowed to stay out of the limelight while they start a family, and a ''prank'' call made to the King Edward VII Hospital in London by two Sydney radio show broadcasters - in which a nurse gave details of the duchess' condition - received world-wide condemnation yesterday.

While there was more respect for royal privacy and press ethics in the wake of the car crash that claimed the life of Diana, Princess of Wales, and British press behaviour has changed in light of the Leveson report into press standards, there is still no guarantee media in other countries respect such privacy - as the recently published topless photographs of the duchess prove.

As well as public pressure, the couple are also likely to face periods of separation as Prince William continues his commitments as a search and rescue helicopter pilot with the RAF. But the duchess will be well-supported by her own family and the Royal household.

Changes to succession rules will mean the couple's child is guaranteed third in line to inherit the Throne - after Prince Charles and Prince William, and before Prince Harry - regardless of its sex. There will now perhaps be further calls for Prince Charles to step aside, leaving the Throne to Prince William and then his child. Whether that happens remains to be seen.

In the meantime, wellwishers the world over will be hoping the duchess recovers and the rest of her pregnancy goes smoothly. And then, as the big day approaches, the middle of next year is likely to see the birth of complete media mania in the rush to publish the first pictures of the new royal.


And another thing

Otago and Dunedin cricket fans are rightly proud of the sporting exploits of Brendon McCullum. The boy who first turned out competitively for the city's Albion club is now one of the most highly regarded players on the international scene, especially in the limited-overs forms of the game.

However, no matter the outcome of the saga surrounding the captaincy of New Zealand's national cricket team, the subterfuge of the past days has been a poor look for the game's administrators in this country, and for coach Mike Hesson.

It could, and should, have been handled better.