As William and Kate approach their first wedding anniversary, insiders say all conditions are a go for a new addition to the prince and princess's blissful little family. This week's issue of PEOPLE features photos of their magical first year as husband and wife, and examines the Royal Baby Fever sweeping Britain.
Right now, the biggest sport in the U.K. is Princess Bumpwatch 2012. Never mind the upcoming Summer Olympics in London. There's Kate, strategically holding a purse in front of her tummy at a December concert. (She's got a royal bun in the oven!) There she is on March 17, sipping sherry at a St. Patrick's Day event honoring the Irish Guards. (On second thought…) And – hang on – would a pregnant woman fly down the slopes in the French Alps, tucked into a fitted jacket and skinny pants, no less?
"She is a tidy little skier and really slim," says Pete Davies, who was working at the Courcheval resort in France's famed Three Valleys when Kate and William vacationed there with her family at the end of March. (For the record, some obstetricians caution against skiing during pregnancy.) But while the baby drumbeat has increased to a fever pitch around them, the couple themselves appeared blissfully at ease, squeezing in romantic one-on-one time as well as cross-generational bonding with Kate's parents, Mike and Carole Middleton, and her siblings Pippa and James.
Nearly one year after William, 29, and Kate, 30, exchanged "I dos" in the epic April 29 wedding that charmed the world, family, friends and royal watchers alike are holding their collective breath for the announcement of a future prince or princess on the way. After revealing their engagement in November 2010, Kate talked openly of the hope to "have a happy family ourselves," and William said they "obviously" wanted kids. After all, "continuity of the monarchy depends on William producing an heir," says veteran royal watcher Judy Wade. "And a baby would put a seal on William and Kate's happiness."
Characteristically, the Palace is remaining mum, though it's recently shown an increased sensitivity to speculation on the subject. And there may be reason to look forward to royal pitter-patter sooner rather than later: For starters, a Palace source confirms that the couple quietly "shelved" a hoped-for trip to Africa in the spring. While a busy calendar may have been the culprit – in addition to the Olympics, the pair also will participate in the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations in June – medical experts note that several recommended vaccinations for Africa travel can be harmful to a fetus. Most significantly, a royal insider points to a major factor that could influence the couple's decision: friends with kids. Watching their friends become parents "does help" boost William and Kate's decision to follow suit, a family insider tells PEOPLE.
But as the couple continue to ready their nest at Kensington Palace, Wade and other longtime royal watchers doubt that the ever-savvy Kate – who enjoys a remarkably close bond with the Queen – would overshadow Her Majesty's jubilee with a pregnancy announcement. And yet there is no question that when the time is right, the couple will prove themselves natural parents.
With their first anniversary fast approaching, a Palace source says the couple will mark the occasion in a "low-key" manner. Yes, they did save the top of their magnificent white-frosted wedding fruitcake – not to be eaten on their first anniversary, but rather to be served at their first child's christening, per British tradition. When will that be? "Like any couple, they will let nature and life take its course," says a royal insider. "It will be a joint decision, and they will make it when they're ready."
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