The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge ended months of intense speculation by announcing that they are expecting their first child – one that will instantly become third in line to the throne. But they were forced to share their news earlier than hoped, even with members of their own family, because of the duchess’s admission to hospital on Monday.
News that the duchess is in the “very early stages” of pregnancy was officially released after she was taken to the King Edward VII hospital in central London, suffering from hyperemesis gravidarun – very acute morning sickness. It is understood that she is less than 12 weeks’ pregnant, but officials were forced to go public because of fears that her hospitalisation would fuel concerns over her health.
The Queen, Prince Charles and other members of the royal family were only told about the pregnancy.
The duchess was staying with her parents, Carole and Michael Middleton, in Bucklebury, Berkshire, when she became unwell. She was driven to the hospital by private car by Prince William, who stayed with her until he left at 8.30pm.
St James’s Palace said: “The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are very pleased to announce that the Duchess of Cambridge is expecting a baby.
"The duchess was admitted this afternoon to King Edward VII hospital in central London with hyperemesis gravidarum. As the pregnancy is in its very early stages, her royal highness is expected to stay in hospital for several days and will require a period of rest thereafter."
Hyperemesis gravidarum is a rare condition causing severe vomiting during pregnancy, which can cause dehydration, weight loss and a build-up of toxins in the blood or urine. It requires supplementary hydration and nutrients and affects about 3.5 out of 1,000 pregnant women.
Members of both families were said to be delighted at news that the couple are to be parents.
It will be the Queen’s third great-grandchild, but it will be the first time in almost 120 years that a serving monarch will experience the birth of a great grandchild in direct succession to the throne. In 1894, Queen Victoria, who reigned until 1901, became great-grandmother to Edward VIII. He later abdicated over his relationship with Wallis Simpson.
It will be a first grandchild for Prince Charles, and also for the duchess’s parents.
A proposed radical shakeup to the monarchy’s rules of succession means this latest member of the royal family will become third in line to the throne regardless of its gender or that of the duchess’s future children. Until such changes, a female heir could have been superseded by a younger, male heir.
The birth will push Prince Harry down to fourth place in the line of succession. Harry, who is serving in Afghanistan as an Apache helicopter co-pilot gunner, is believed to have been informed of the news by email.
Speaking on Monday outside No 10, David Cameron described it as “absolutely wonderful news” and said the couple would be “absolutely brilliant parents”.
The prime minister said he had been informed shortly before the public announcement. “I got a little note coming into a meeting I was having and I found it quite difficult to keep it to myself,” he said.
The Labour party leader, Ed Miliband, tweeted: “Fantastic news for Kate, William and the country. A royal baby is something the whole nation will celebrate.”
William’s uncle, Earl Spencer, brother of Diana, Princess of Wales, welcomed the announcement: “It is wonderful news and I am thrilled for them both.”
In Scotland, where the couple are officially known as the Earl and Countess of Strathearn, the first minister, Alex Salmond, sent “warmest congratulations” and “sincere best wishes”. “Everyone in Scotland will join me in wishing the couple the very best as they prepare for the birth of their first child,” he said.
The archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, who conducted the couple’s wedding ceremony, said: “The whole nation will want to join in celebrating this wonderful news. We wish the duchess the best of health and happiness in the months ahead.”
One area of speculation is over what surname the child will take. William uses the name Wales professionally in the armed forces and is Prince William of Wales, taking the name from his father’s title of Prince of Wales.
In that fashion, his children might use Cambridge on occasion. It is also likely that if the couple have a son, the baby would one day also be Prince of Wales, although that is not automatic. Another name legally used by senior royals descended from the Duke of Edinburgh is Mountbatten-Windsor.
The duchess, whose last public engagement was at her old prep school, Pangbourne in Berkshire, on Friday, has cancelled a number of engagements she was due to undertake this week. Teachers and pupils at the duchess’s old school, where she showed off her hockey skills and then had lunch, said they had “no inkling” of her pregnancy.
Royal births are usually celebrated with a royal salute of 41 guns and with an official notice attached to the railings of Buckingham Palace, but the news is also likely to be officially posted on the monarchy’s websites, on Facebook and Twitter accounts. When William was born in June 1982, thousands of people gathered outside Buckingham Palace to wait for the announcement.
During her pregnancy, it is likely the duchess will be attended to by the Queen’s gynaecologist, who is currently Alan Farthing, the former fiance of the murdered television presenter Jill Dando.
Protecting their child’s privacy will be of paramount importance to the duke and duchess. But, with their baby destined to wear the crown one day, there is likely to be an acceptance that media will be given access, especially on milestone occasions such as the first day at school.
The pregnancy will be seen by royal aides, and fans, as an appropriate and fitting end to the Queen’s diamond jubilee year.
Since their marriage in April 2011, there has been daily speculation over whether Catherine was pregnant.
Photographs have been analysed and rumours have made magazine covers across the globe. One of the latest fortuitously speculated on whether her recent adoption of a flick-fringe hairstyle was indicative of an imminent announcement. Last week the duke gave his own clue on a visit to Cambridge when he was handed a romper suit featuring a picture of a helicopter and the slogan “Daddy’s little co-pilot”. The duke said: “I’ll keep that.”
Announcing the proposed abolition of an ancient rules of primogeniture in October 2011, Cameron said the 16 Commonwealth countries where the Queen is head of state had agreed to give female royals the same rights of succession as their brothers.
William Hague, the foreign secretary, told ITV’s The Agenda programme last night: “They [the other countries] didn’t object but they all have their different legislative procedures and in some countries, because they have to change the constitution, other people can suggest other changes to the constitution. It’s not as straightforward as it looks but clearly this has to be done quickly.”
Nick Clegg said the government was “working right now” to “put the finishing touches to legislation which will update the very old-fashioned rules of succession, which mean that if they have a baby girl, regardless of whether the baby girl then has younger brothers in the future, she will be able to succeed to the throne.
"So it’s a very exciting day, but also we’re making sure that if it is a baby girl, she can be our queen."
- The Guardian (12/3/12)
The Duchess of Cambridge is expecting a baby, St James’s Palace has announced.
Members of the Royal Family and the duchess’s family, the Middletons, are said to be delighted.
A spokesman said the duchess, who is thought to be less than 12 weeks pregnant, has been admitted to a London hospital with acute morning sickness and is likely to stay for several days.
The baby - the couple’s first - will be born third in line to the throne, after Prince Charles and Prince William.
Catherine and William, who are both 30, were married at Westminster Abbey in April 2011.
BBC’s royal correspondent Peter Hunt said William and Kate were staying at her parents in Berkshire at the weekend and travelled to the private London hospital from there by car.
William spent several hours with his wife but left the King Edward VII hospital shortly after 20:00 GMT.
It is understood that Kate is being cared for by gynecologist Marcus Setchell, who delivered the Countess of Wessex’s two children.
The duchess was last seen in public on Friday when she visited her old school, St Andrew’s, in Pangbourne in Berkshire.
In a statement, St James’s Palace said: “Their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are very pleased to announce that the Duchess of Cambridge is expecting a baby.
"The Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall and Prince Harry and members of both families are delighted with the news."
It said the duchess was suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum, which requires supplementary hydration and nutrients.
"As the pregnancy is in its very early stages, Her Royal Highness is expected to stay in hospital for several days and will require a period of rest thereafter," it added.
St James’s Palace refused to be drawn on when the royal couple became aware of the pregnancy, only saying “recently”.
But it is understood the palace announcement was prompted by the Duchess’s medical condition.
The Queen, Prince Charles and other members of the Royal Family were only told about the pregnancy earlier in the day, our royal correspondent said. Prince William’s brother Prince Harry, who is serving with the Army in Afghanistan, is thought to have been told about pregnancy in an e-mail.
Daghni Rajasingham, a consultant obstetrician, told BBC Radio 4’s PM programme the sickness will continue throughout the pregnancy in a “very small” number of cases and may result in future re-admission to hospital
"But in terms of any particular complications, if it’s treated well and they’re kept well hydrated it’s something that is relatively easy and well treated."
Asked about having children in an interview after their engagement in November 2010, William said: “I think we’ll take it one step at a time. We’ll get over the marriage thing first and then maybe look at the kids, but obviously we want a family.”
Prime Minister David Cameron wrote on Twitter that he was “delighted by the news…They will make wonderful parents.”
Labour leader Ed Miliband tweeted: “Fantastic news for Kate, William and the country. A royal baby is something the whole nation will celebrate.”
A spokesman for the Royal Air Force, with which William serves as a search-and-rescue pilot, said: “The RAF is delighted with the news and wishes the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge all the best for the future.”
William’s uncle Earl Spencer, the brother of Princess Diana, said the pregnancy was “wonderful news and I am thrilled for them both”.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, who married the couple, said: “The whole nation will want to join in celebrating this wonderful news. We wish the Duchess the best of health and happiness in the months ahead.”
The White House also paid tribute.
President Barack Obama’s press secretary Jay Carney said: “On behalf of everyone here… beginning with the president and first lady we extend our congratulations to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on the welcome news we received from London that they are expecting their first child.”
Royal journalist Ingrid Seward said the royal pair were likely to have wanted to start a family “sooner rather than later”, but delayed so that they could play their part in honouring the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
She told the BBC: “Kate will be 31 in January and I think by royal standards that is relatively old.”
In October 2011, Commonwealth leaders agreed to change succession laws so that the daughter of any future UK monarch will have equal right to the throne as a son.
The law has not yet been altered but a Cabinet Office spokesman says formal consent is expected “very shortly” and ministers have indicated that the legislation will apply to any royal births from the date of the leaders’ decision.
The monarch is also head of the armed forces, supreme governor of the Church of England, head of state of the UK and 15 other Commonwealth countries.
- BBC News (12/3/12)
The Duke of Cambridge has been given the highest honour in Scotland after being installed as a Knight of the Thistle at a service in Edinburgh.
The event at the city’s St Giles’ Cathedral was attended by The Queen, accompanied by The Duke of Edinburgh, the Princess Royal, The Duchess of Cambridge and hundreds of invited guests.
Thousands of people crowded on to the Royal Mile to catch a glimpse of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge - known as the Earl and Countess of Strathearn while in Scotland - and other members of the Royal Family as they made their way from the Signet Library, across Parliament Square and into the cathedral.
The Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle is Scotland’s highest honour and is second in precedence to the Garter.
Its origins are uncertain, but its legendary status was recognised when it was revived in 1687 by James II (James VII of Scotland).
The Prince of Wales is also among current royal Knights and Ladies of the Thistle and was installed in 1977.
The Princess Royal was installed in the Order of the Thistle in June 2001.
The Royal Family entered the cathedral shortly before 11am to a fanfare, accompanied by other members of the Order, all wearing ceremonial gowns.
Meanwhile, The Duchess of Cambridge, wearing a pale yellow coat and hat, took her place in the audience.
The installation ceremony was conducted by the Dean of the Thistle, Rev. Gilleasbuig Macmillan.
The short ceremony took place within the internal Thistle Chapel and was broadcast through speakers to those in the cathedral.
The Queen said: “It is our pleasure that His Royal Highness The Prince William, Earl of Strathearn, be installed a Knight of the most ancient and most noble Order of the Thistle.”
Young people are showing their commitment to their communities by taking part in 24-hour-challenges – which include transforming derelict landscapes and refurbishing community centres – with the hope their efforts will be recognised in a new national award programme.
The SkillForce Prince’s Award – launched by SkillForce in conjunction with the charity’s Royal Patron, HRH The Duke of Cambridge – will reward young people for an outstanding contribution to a community or cause, giving of their own time to make a difference to others. To be considered for the coveted award, young people must first complete SkillForce’s ‘24 Hours to Make a Difference’ challenge, in which they will work together to plan and implement a programme that will make a significant contribution to their community.
The most outstanding participants in the challenge will be selected to receive The SkillForce Prince’s Award – which includes a trophy and a significant investment or experience that will further their personal, professional or educational development – and every participant will receive a SkillForce certificate, as well as a recognised national certificate in community volunteering. Judging of all the challenges will take place this summer, with winners of the award announced in the autumn.
In a message of support to the charity, The Duke of Cambridge said:
“I am immensely proud to put my name to the SkillForce Prince’s Award. It rewards young people who have made an outstanding contribution to their community, encouraging them to go further to nurture their personal, professional or educational development. I would like to personally thank all those who took part in this inaugural phase of the award and I hope many young people will be inspired to take part in the future.”
Four challenges will be taking place across England this weekend with two schools in Scotland having already completed the challenge. The SkillForce Prince’s Award builds on the existing work of SkillForce locally. SkillForce is an educational charity that works in partnership with more than 150 schools in England and Scotland to help young people realise their individual potential and academic ability. It makes a profound difference to their lives – tackling exclusions, increasing academic performance and boosting confidence amongst the pupils it works with.
The SkillForce Prince’s Award is initially open to students graduating from the SkillForce Community, Character and Contribution curriculum. The ‘24 Hours to Make a Difference’ challenge will reinforce the knowledge and skills gained in this curriculum. It is planned the award will eventually be open to any young person that can demonstrate an understanding of the community in which they live and are willing to give up 24 hours of their time for a charitable cause.
Peter Cross, CEO, SkillForce, said: “The SkillForce Prince’s Award recognises young people for an outstanding contribution to a community or cause, giving of their own time to make a difference to others. By taking part in the ‘24-hours to Make a Difference’ challenge, young people are offered an opportunity to win this award whilst becoming an active and valued member of the community in which they live, demonstrating and developing the character and skills that will help them in the future.”
The Duke of Cambridge has qualified as an operational captain within the Royal Air Force Search and Rescue Force.
Flight Lieutenant Wales, as he is known in the military, will now command Search and Rescue operations in RAF Sea King helicopters. Until now, Flight Lieutenant Wales has only co-piloted the aircraft.
The operational captaincy check involved ground and air based practical tests, spread over a two day period. The tests were a culmination of almost two years of flying experience and study for The Duke of Cambridge since joining C Flight, 22 Squadron at RAF Valley in Anglesey in September 2010.
Officer Commanding 22 Squadron, Wing Commander Mark Dunlop said:
“Flt Lt Wales demonstrated the required standards needed for the award of Operation Captaincy. Due to the nature of search and rescue operations, the required standards are always set at a very high level. Operational Captaincy carries the overarching responsibility for the safety of the aircraft, its crew and any casualties.”
The Duke of Cambridge has accepted an invitation to become Patron of the Welsh Rugby Charitable Trust which supports severely injured players from Wales.
He will fulfil the new role alongside his existing link with the sport as Vice Patron of the Welsh Rugby Union.
The Trust supports seriously injured Welsh rugby players who are all confined to wheelchairs after suffering spinal injuries in games. It was set up in 1972 and is the declared priority for charitable assistance from within the Welsh Rugby Union. The charity currently supports 20 seriously injured players and also gives financial help to players who have not suffered permanent disability.
The WRCT and the WRU have acknowledged The Duke’s acceptance of the invitation as a major boost for the fundraising activities of the charity. Since it was formed the WRCT has distributed more than £2m to the care of injured players and the establishment of a support network to help improve their quality of life.
The President of the WRU, Dennis Gethin, who chairs the WRCT, said: “I am delighted The Duke of Cambridge has agreed to become Patron of this charity which does vitally important work for some truly deserving individuals. I know His Royal Highness carries out an enormous amount of work for charitable causes so I am very pleased he has found the time to commit to our endeavours.
“We could not wish for a better figurehead and his involvement has extra significance given his very public support for Welsh rugby in general. He is always a welcome guest at the Millennium Stadium and has met and spoken with the injured players who are involved closely with the WRCT.
“I am proud to chair the WRCT and I know that this announcement will help galvanise support for the excellent work being carried out by the charity.”
The Trust is managed by ten trustees who give freely of their services and is supported by the WRU in its fundraising activities. Rugby supporters are regularly asked to contribute to the WRCT by bucket collectors at the Millennium Stadium during rugby matches.
The WRU makes an annual contribution to the WRCT as does the Millennium Stadium Charitable Trust.
29th May 2012
The Queen has been pleased to appoint The Duke of Cambridge, The Earl of Strathearn, to be a Knight of the Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle.
Appointments to the Order of the Thistle are entirely in the personal gift of The Queen and are not made on the advice of the Prime Minister, as are most other Honours.
The Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle represents the highest honour in Scotland. Revived by King James VII, the Order has a complement of 16 Knights (KT). In 1987, The Queen decided that ladies should be eligible for the Thistle in the same way as men.
The Motto of the Order is Nemo Me Impune Lacessit (No one provokes me with impunity).
A list of the current holders of the Order is as follows:
ROYAL KNIGHTS OF THE THISTLE
Her Majesty The Queen
His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh, K.G., K.T., O.M., G.B.E., A.C., Q.S.O.
His Royal Highness The Duke of Rothesay, K.G., K.T., G.C.B., O.M., A.K., Q.S.O., A.D.C.
Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal, K.G., K.T., G.C.V.O., C.B., A.D.C.
KNIGHTS AND LADY OF THE THISTLE
The Earl of Airlie K.T., G.C.V.O. (Chancellor of the Order of the Thistle)
The Earl of Elgin and Kincardine, K.T., C.D.
The Viscount of Arbuthnott, K.T., C.B.E., D.S.C.,
The Earl of Crawford and Balcarres, K.T., G.C.V.O.
Lady Marion Fraser, L.T.
The Lord Macfarlane of Bearsden, K.T.
The Lord Mackay of Clashfern, K.T.
The Lord Wilson of Tillyorn, K.T, G.C.M.G.
The Lord Sutherland of Houndwood, K.T
Sir Eric Anderson, K.T.
The Lord Steel of Aikwood, K.T., K.B.E.,
The Lord Robertson of Port Ellen, K.T., G.C.M.G.
The Lord Cullen of Whitekirk, K.T.
Sir Garth Morrison, K.T., C.B.E.
The Lord Hope of Craighead, K.T.
The Lord Patel, K.T.
The Duke of Cambridge will fly to the Falkland Islands tonight to begin a tour of duty as tensions rise between Britain and Argentina over sovereignty.
Yesterday it emerged that one of the Royal Navy’s most advanced new warships is being sent to the area.
HMS Dauntless, a Type 45 destroyer, is due to set sail for the South Atlantic on her maiden mission in the coming months to replace frigate HMS Montrose.
Today it was confirmed that the Duke of Cambridge will begin his six-week deployment as a helicopter pilot earlier than expected. He will fly out from RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire, tonight.
He will be crewing one of two search-and-rescue helicopters on call 24 hours a day for missions flying out of a large British military base, 45 minutes from Stanley, the islands’ capital.
Argentina’s foreign ministry slammed Prince William’s visit, saying that the heir to the British throne would be arriving as a “conqueror.”
However, the Ministry of Defence stressed that the mission was routine and a Royal Navy spokesman rejected suggestions the decision to send the ultra-modern destroyer to the region represented an escalation of the UK’s position.
”The Royal Navy has had a continuous presence in the South Atlantic for many years. The deployment of HMS Dauntless to the South Atlantic has been long planned, is entirely routine and replaces another ship on patrol,” he said.
David Cameron and Argentine President Cristina Fernandez have previously accused each other of ”colonial” behaviour.
Referring to the deployment of HMS Dauntless and William’s tour of duty as an RAF search and rescue pilot, Argentina’s Foreign Ministry last night said it ”rejected the British attempt to militarise (the) conflict”.
It also expressed regret that an heir to the throne would arrive wearing ”the uniform of a conqueror”.
”Governments should avoid the temptation of falling into a discourse … that aims to distract public attention from belt-tightening economic policies,” the ministry said in a statement.
Argentine official Sebastian Brugo Marco last year said the country could not ignore the ”political” implications of William’s deployment.
”It is one more provocative act that shows Britain’s military presence in a zone of peace where there is no armed conflict,” he said.
Following his remarks, the Chief of the Defence Staff denied that sending the Duke to the Falkland Islands was designed to provoke Argentina.
General Sir David Richards dismissed the claims, saying: ”I can absolutely tell you it wasn’t and isn’t designed to be.”
Gen Richards stressed William’s deployment was routine for an RAF Sea King pilot, pointing out Prince Harry was sent to Afghanistan as a forward air controller in 2008.
It has also emerged that UK Foreign Minister Jeremy Browne will be visiting the islands in June to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the war.
Mr Browne yesterday told the Commons the Government had resisted Tory calls for the Falkland Islanders’ right to self-determination to be written into a new UK law.
He insisted legislation was unnecessary as he stressed the islanders’ ability to decide their own future was ”non-negotiable”.
Tory MP Guy Opperman had called for the islanders’ right to determine their own future to be enshrined in UK law.
The Duchess of Cambridge is to use Prince William’s tour of duty in the Falkland Islands to launch herself as a solo member of the Royal family
Since the royal wedding last April, she has carried out only one public engagement without Prince William.
That was when the Prince of Wales was forced to pull out of a charity dinner at Clarence House in October because he had to fly to Riyadh to pay his condolences to the Saudi royal family after the death of the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia. His “darling daughter-in-law” agreed to step into the breach.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry become official Team GB and Paralympics GB 2012 Ambassadors in the lead up to, and during, the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Their Royal Highnesses will join a group of 27 of Britain’s most inspirational and accomplished Olympians from previous Games who were unveiled as 2012 Ambassadors by the British Olympic Association earlier this year.
As Ambassadors for Team GB and Paralympics GB, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry will play a leading role in encouraging and inspiring the British public to rally behind the more than 900 Olympic and Paralympic athletes, who will compete for Great Britain and Northern Ireland at the London 2012 Games. Their Royal Highnesses will also use their roles to promote the importance of participation in Olympic and Paralympic sport and encourage greater awareness of the Olympic and Paralympic values.
The Duke and Duchess and Prince Harry have begun their Ambassadorial role with a message of support for the Team GB Ambition Programme, also announced today. The British Olympic Association’s Ambition programme is designed to develop athletes’ medal success at future Olympic Games by offering aspiring young athletes and coaches a unique, first-hand understanding of the Olympic environment during London 2012.
In his message of support, The Duke of Cambridge said:
“Catherine, Harry and I are honoured to be Ambassadors for Team GB and Paralympics GB. London hosting the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games will inspire so many people – particularly the young – to be the best they can be. We are hugely looking forward to this incredible sporting competition, but are also looking beyond next summer’s Games to the springboard it will provide for future success and excellence. The athletes and coaches taking part in the Team GB Ambition Programme are part of that future success – potential medal winners and sources of inspiration to come. We hope they enjoy the experience of London 2012 to the full, and learn from it how to become successful British Olympians of the future.”
Andy Hunt, CEO of the British Olympic Association and Team GB Chef de Mission for London 2012 said:
“As we come to the end of 2011, the excitement is building towards the Olympic and Paralympic Games next year. Our Team GB athletes and all those who support them have worked a lifetime for the opportunity to represent their country in front of a home crowd at the Olympic Games. Their achievements will inspire us all and we hope the values by which the Olympic Movement was founded; excellence, respect and friendship; will resonate in some way with everyone who watches the Games next year. We are delighted Their Royal Highnesses as Team GB Ambassadors will be a part of trying to make that vision a reality. It is a great motivation for Team GB that The Duke and Duchess and Prince Harry are supporting their efforts next year and we hope together we can ensure that the whole of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is behind our athletes in their quest for Olympic success.”
Tim Hollingsworth, CEO of the British Paralympic Association said:
“The Paralympic Games are coming home in 2012 and we want to use this opportunity to raise the profile of Paralympic sport in this country and ensure that the nation takes British Paralympians to their hearts. We’re sure that the presence of Their Royal Highnesses will help us achieve this goal and it will give the athletes a tremendous lift to know that they are going to be supporting them.”
- Clarence House Press Release - 12/1/11
The Duke of Cambridge helped lead rescue efforts for eight sailors on board a cargo ship which sank in a storm off the coast of north Wales.
He co-piloted an RAF Sea King helicopter which lifted two crew members from the Swanland to safety in the early hours of Sunday.
The body of one of their fellow seamen was later recovered from the Irish Sea amid gale force winds after the vessel’s hull split in half off the Llyn Peninsula.
Hopes were fading for five others, all understood to be Russian, after a life raft from the stricken ship was found on rocks on Bardsey Island.
Although rescuers have been unable to reach the raft because of treacherous conditions, it appears to be empty, a coastguard spokeswoman confirmed.
The Duke rescue helicopter crew managed to lift the two survivors safety after the captain sent out a Mayday shortly after 2am.
Both the rescued men are believed to be “OK”, but hopes for those still missing began to fade after dawn when there was still no sign of them.
Rescue teams battling through gale force winds are hoping they managed to scramble into life rafts and then survived the buffeting of massive waves sweeping across the Irish Sea.
At least some of the men are known to be wearing specialist immersion suits and equipped with strobe lights.
RAF helicopters, lifeboats and a flotilla of commercial vessels have converged on a rescue site about 20 miles north west of the Llyn Peninsula.
The operation was launched after the Swanland’s hull cracked as it sailed into a Force Eight gale.
Crewmen said it rapidly began to take on water, leaving them with no option but to abandon ship.
A spokesman for the Holyhead Coastguard said: “We had a mayday call at just after 2am this morning and it was for cargo ship with eight people on-board.
"It had a cracked hull so some other vessels went to the scene and they provided shelter for the people that were in the water.
"Two helicopters and two life boats were sent to the scene. Two people have been recovered from the water and we are still searching for six."
The two men recovered were airlifted to safety and taken to RAF Valley in Anglesey, North Wales.
The spokesman added: “I haven’t got much information on their condition but I have heard that they are OK.”
Jim Green, also from Holyhead Coastguard, said: “We are very concerned for the safety of the other six crew members.
“We know that at least some of them are wearing immersion suits and have strobe lighting with them.
However. sea conditions are challenging at best.”
The 81-metre vessel was carrying 3,000 tonnes of limestone when it came to grief.
Rescue teams have reported finding two life rafts and some floating debris.
Both the rescued men were lifted from the water by the crew of a helicopter from RAF Valley. The search was then taken up by a second helicopter deployed by Dublin Coastguard.
Although the Duke of Cambridge is a co-pilot in the RAF Search and Rescue Force at Valley, it is not yet known whether he was involved.
The lead helicopters later returned to their bases, with aircraft from RAF Chivenor and the Irish Coastguard taking up the search.
They are now working in tandem with lifeboat crews from RNLI Pwllheli and Porthdinllaen.
An RNLI spokesman said: The two RNLI lifeboats, along with four search and rescue helicopters and two other commercial boats, are searching for the remaining six crew.”
Swanland was built in the Netherlands. In August 2010 she came close to running aground off the Lizard peninsula, Cornwall, when her engines failed.
- The Telegraph - 11/27/11