LONDON -- The news of a thoroughly modern royal pregnancy spread in a thoroughly modern way: via Facebook accounts, TV screens in pubs and train stations, news alerts sent to mobile phones.
And Brits reacted with thoroughly modern sentiment: happiness for an appealing young couple, rather than satisfaction that the royal family has another heir. The front of Buckingham Palace was deserted except for a few news correspondents. There were no national flags flying or happy honking of horns, as sometimes happens after big soccer victories.
When she heard the news, "I did become quite excited," says Bev Isherwood, an assistant shop manager from North Yorkshire who was visiting London. "They seem like a very genuine and happy couple, and it just feels very right. ... I feel more happy for them as a couple than for the lineage going on."
"It's hard to think about the child in the future when his dad isn't even king," added her friend David Smith, a North Yorkshire firefighter.
"It's a happy event," said Janet Simm, who was visiting London from Leeds. "On the whole times are hard, and any pregnancy that is wanted is a good thing." She said she's not feeling particularly relieved or excited about another shoot on the Windsor tree; if the pregnancy is successful, "it would be another person in line for the throne, but there are plenty of people in line anyway."
"I wish them all the best. I like the royal family, they're an asset to the country, and William and Kate enhance it," said security guard Peter Smith of Kent, a suburban district of London. All the same, "I'm not going to go around jumping up and down and screaming and shouting. They're a nice couple - good luck to them."
Though delighted by the news, Brits do not seem to feel that it was Kate's highest obligation to get pregnant, and there's no sense of relief that she had managed to conceive. "It's not everything if you don't get pregnant," said London musician Tim Steemson. "I'm sure everyone would've felt the same about her if she didn't get pregnant. I think we've moved on from the 1890s."
What made the news especially welcome, Isherwood said, is that during her childhood the news out of the royal family was usually sad - the death of Diana, the death of the Queen Mother. "This is the total opposite. This is a very upbeat thing."
Most Brits were not concerned about Kate's health problems, shrugging off her morning sickness as part and parcel of pregnancy. "Morning sickness is natural, isn't it," said Peter Smith.
But those with some knowledge of medical matters were less sanguine.
"It's too early to announce it, because lots of things could go wrong," says Simm, a retired physician. "Having to be admitted to hospital for acute morning sickness is not a good sign. ... I hope it's perfectly all right, but I'm guarded about it."
No one had strong feelings about names, "as long as it's not a silly one," said Linda Rowley, a shop assistant visiting London from Middlesborough.
"I reckon it will be a strong historical name of some sort. It could be George or a Victoria or an Elizabeth. I just hope they get to choose what they want to choose."
Headlines from Britain's tabloids ranged from ecstatic ("Baby Joy for Wills & Kate," said the Sun online) to concerned ("Worried William spends hours at pregnant Kate's hospital bedside," said the Daily Mail online) to nonchalant ("Duchess of Cambridge Expecting A Baby," said the liberal Independent, which also ran a congratulatory letter from an anti-monarchist advising the couple to "lose the titles" and move out of the palace).
The happiest people in Britain may have been the editors of HELLO! Magazine, whose current cover bears a photo of Kate and the headline "Baby Talk - William and Kate Spark Rumours." "HELLO! got it right," gloated the headline on the magazine's website.
But a sizable minority was determined not to be excited.
"To be honest, I don't care," said Londoner Phi Iudwick, an unemployed musician. "Whether she's pregnant or not, you couldn't find a less concerned man. I feel more passionately about a cup of tea than I feel about this."