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Internet storm over William and Kate's #royalbaby

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Katy Lee

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Expecting ... William and Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

Expecting ... William and Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

From spoof Twitter accounts to feverish speculation about names, the internet has gone into a frenzy over the unborn child of Prince William and his wife Catherine as the first royal baby of the online age.

The news — the first royal pregnancy to be announced on Twitter — was met with an explosion of posts on social networks, from joyous congratulations to those pleading for the media coverage to end already.

It is perhaps of little comfort to Catherine, who was in hospital for a second day on Tuesday with acute morning sickness, that within minutes of the announcement her baby already had a slew of spoof accounts "live-tweeting from the royal womb".

@RoyalFetus.

@RoyalFetus.

"CURRENT STATUS: DARK IN HERE, WILL UPDATE," tweeted @RoyalFoetus, which has more than 6800 followers.

The rival @RoyalFetus, which has more than 10,000 followers, was snagged over a year ago, and first tweeted on April 29, 2011, the couple's wedding day. Today, after months of silence, it simply tweeted – "I EXIST!!!!!"

"I may not have bones yet, but I'm already more important than everyone reading this. #royalbaby #sorry," it later added.

The accounts @IamRoyalBaby and @UnbornRoyal, meanwhile, have been suspended. A spokesman for Twitter said the company would not comment on specific accounts for security reasons, but the guidelines for parody accounts say it must be clear the account is a fake.

The hashtag #royalbaby instantly rocketed to the top of Twitter's trending topics after the announcement. Interest was so great that the official website of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, as the couple are officially known, crashed due to high demand.

Meanwhile, online topics of royal baby-related conversation have ranged from likely names and godparents to the probability that the new third-in-line to the British throne will inherit the famous ginger locks of its uncle, Prince Harry.

Bookmakers predict that the couple will name the baby after a close relative, with William's late mother Diana among the early front-runners if it is a girl and John, George and Charles among the favourite boys' names.

But mischievous web-users have made their own helpful suggestions about what William and Catherine should call the baby.

One gleefully suggested "Austerity" to reflect the public mood in Britain as it struggles to climb out of recession, while others offered a down-to-earth name bringing the monarchy closer to the people, such as "Kevin".

Online chatter has also turned to reports that Catherine could be expecting twins — potentially spelling constitutional double-trouble for the royal family.

"So if Kate has twins and a C-section," wrote one tweeter, echoing the thoughts of many, "does the doctor get to choose who will be the next in line for the throne?"

"What if there are twins and they're born by C section at the same time?" wrote another. "A pair of heirs?"

Others have been revelling in the array of computerised images, hastily put together by newspapers and websites, showing what the child may look like.

Some of the more sinister versions transpose William's thinning hairline onto pictures of the hypothetical toddler.

But there is always room for a dose of reality. Piers Morgan, who requested the first royal baby interview, received this admonition: "You realise you are talking to a spoof account?"

One thing is clear — with Catherine believed to be less than 12 weeks pregnant and much more of this to come — those already tiring of #royalbaby-talk may wish to flee the internet for a few months.

AFP, Los Angeles Times, Fairfax Media