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Britain Legalizes Gay Marriage With Queen Elizabeth II's Royal Approval

Queen Elizabeth II i-Images, PacificCoastNews.com

Kate Middleton giving birth to the royal baby any day now isn't the only thing the Brits have to celebrate. 

On July 17, 2013, Britain legalized gay marriage after Queen Elizabeth II gave her royal stamp of approval, the final step necessary for a bill to become a law.

Per the The Washington Post, lawmakers cheered as House of Commons Speaker John Bercow announced that royal assent had been given--one day after the bill to legalize same-sex marriage in England and Wales cleared Parliament.  

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Duchess Catherine, Kate Middleton, Prince William Arthur Edwards - WPA Pool/Getty Images

Beginning in the summer of 2014, gay couples will be able to legally wed in civil and religious unions. The Church of England, which counts the royal family as members, will not actually be able to conduct same-sex unions. It will, however, allow those in civil partnerships to convert their relationships to marriage. 

On March 11, 2013, the queen signed a new charter for the Commonwealth, which states, "We recognise that gender equality and women's empowerment are essential components of human development and basic human rights." Although gay rights were not explicitly mentioned, many interpreted the royal's approval of the charter to be implied as her support of gay rights.

Prior to this, the 87-year-old monarch took yet another progressive step towards equality. On Oct. 28, 2011, she gave her consent so that Prince William and Kate Middleton's firstborn child, whether a boy or girl, could one day assume the throne. This meant that for the first time, if the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's firsborn were a baby girl, she would one day be the queen. Under previous laws, the immediate heir (who would one day succeed Will as king) was the firstborn son of the monarch.

NEWS:  Looks like Queen Elizabeth II will meet her great-grandchild very, very soon

Royal Baby, Prince William, Kate Middleton, Duchess Catherine Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

PHOTOS: Kate Middleton's royal baby bump

Of course, at this time, Kate and Wills were newly married and not yet expecting. Now, with their little prince or princess due any day--by "the end of the week," if Camilla is right--it matters more than ever.

And while the royal parents-to-be haven't announced the gender of their baby-to-be (and reportedly, will find out as a surprise when he or she is born), the betting public seems to believe they're going to have a little girl. Actually, they've got it more narrowed down than that. A press rep for Coral, a U.K. betting site, says, "If the money talks, then the newest heir to the throne will be a 7-pound brunette princess named Alexandra, born sometime in the morning."

Based on E! News' poll, you all seem to think the newest royal will be a girl, too. As of Wednesday morning, the top-voted picks for Kate and Will's child were all traditionally female names. And your choice for favorite name matches up with the gamblers' guess of what it will be: Alexandra!

But our curious minds will have to keep on guessing right up until a formal proclamation, signed by Kate's medical team at St. Mary's, is handed off to a waiting driver, driven through London with police escorts, and placed on an easel set in front of the Privy Purse door at Buckingham Palace. Then, and only then, will we 100 percent know if we're celebrating a newborn prince or princess.

If previous royal history is any indication, we'll get a first glimpse of the royal baby when Kate and Wills bring him or her out of the hospital to meet the press.

Oh, the anticipation!

Kate Middleton, Royal Baby, Route to Hospital ZUMAPress, Google Maps

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