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One step closer to the royal magic hour! After about a week away in the comfort of the Middleton family home in the English countryside, pregnant Duchess Kate -- plus husband Prince William -- abruptly departed Bucklebury with police escorts around 3 p.m. local time Friday, Us Weekly can confirm. The expectant royal couple are bound for London, and all royal protection officers have since departed the Bucklebury area.

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Whether the duchess, 31, is immediately headed for St. Mary's Hospital to give birth in the Lindo Wing-- or simply back home to Kensington Palace -- remains to be seen. Says a Palace rep, "We wouldn't comment on the exact whereabouts of the Duke and Duchess -- we wouldn't normally do so in their private time."

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Earlier on Friday, a royal source told Us that Duchess Kate's due date has "passed." The prince, 31, has not yet begun his paternity leave, but is simply taking time off to await the birth of his first child. "We're all on the edge of our seats for news," a Royal Air Force source admitted. "I thought the baby would be born by now!"

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Check back with Us Weekly for updates on this developing story.

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