The Queen is said to be “delighted” by the news her granddaughter Princess Eugenie is expecting a baby early next year.
Eugenie and husband Jack Brooksbank made the announcement just a few weeks before their second wedding anniversary – to the joy of their parents.
The couple are likely to choose a private London hospital for the birth and bookmakers have already compiled a list of possible names for the infant – from Alice and Alexander to Victoria and Arthur.
Buckingham Palace said in a short statement: “Her Royal Highness Princess Eugenie and Mr Jack Brooksbank are very pleased to announce that they are expecting a baby in early 2021.
“The Duke of York and Sarah, Duchess of York, Mr and Mrs George Brooksbank, The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh are delighted with the news.”
Sarah tweeted: “I am so excited by the news that Eugenie and Jack are expecting their first child. Thrilled for them both and in my 60th year cannot wait to be a grandmother.
“Welcoming a new baby into the York family is going to be a moment of profound joy.”
The official Twitter account of the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall posted well-wishes for the couple: “Congratulations to HRH Princess Eugenie and Mr Jack Brooksbank!”
The baby will be a ninth great-grandchild for the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, following the arrival of their eighth – the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s son Archie Mountbatten-Windsor.
But although their mother is a princess, their father has no title and so the child will be born down a female line of the royal family – meaning they will be plain Master or Miss Brooksbank.
They will not be an HRH nor hold a title, unless the Queen decides to intervene and give Mr Brooksbank – who is European brand manager for Casamigos Tequila co-founded by George Clooney – an earldom or issue a Letters Patent amending the rules.
Eugenie’s parents, Andrew and Sarah, will become grandparents for the first time and the baby boy or girl will be born 11th in line to the throne.
William Hill has made the name Alice their favourite if the baby is a girl with odds of 8-1, and Alexander (10-1) if it is a boy.
Rupert Adams, a spokesman for the bookmakers, said: “We really like Alice and Alexander as they are both regal names, without being too pompous.”
Jessica O’Reilly of Ladbrokes said Arthur and Victoria led the way with odds of 5-1, adding: “Eugenie and Jack’s pregnancy announcement is the good news that royal fans have been desperate to hear all year.”
Bookmakers Coral have Oliver as its favourite boy moniker with odds of 5-1, while Paddy Power have Alice and Arthur as joint top picks at 8-1.
Eugenie and Jack married in a glittering ceremony in the Gothic surroundings of St George’s Chapel in front of royal and celebrity guests on October 12 2018.
The princess wore a 1950s-inspired gown by Peter Pilotto and Christopher De Vos, with a low back designed to show her scar from scoliosis surgery she underwent as a child.
It was at Eugenie and Mr Brooksbank’s wedding that Harry and Meghan shared the news with the royals that the duchess was pregnant.
Princess Eugenie Victoria Helena of York was born on March 23 1990 at the exclusive Portland Hospital in London.
She could follow her mother’s lead and have her baby at the Portland, where older sister Princess Beatrice was also born and where the Duchess of Sussex had Archie – or she might opt for the private Lindo Wing at St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington, like the Duchess of Cambridge.
Eugenie is a director at the contemporary art gallery Hauser & Wirth in London.
Her romance with Stowe-educated Mr Brooksbank began after they fell in love at first sight on a ski trip near Verbier in Switzerland and they dated for around seven years before he proposed.
Sarah, Duchess of York, who was cast out from the Windsors amid her “toe sucking” scandal in the 1990s, has been gushing in her admiration of Eugenie’s husband.
Andrew has stepped down from royal duties for the foreseeable future following a disastrous Newsnight interview about his friendship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.