It's a boy! Royal baby is born

2013-07-22 22:27

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Prince William's wife Kate gave birth to a baby boy today, providing Britain's royal family with a future king in an event that had been anticipated around the world.

Crowds cheered and rushed towards the gates of Buckingham Palace as it was announced that the Duchess of Cambridge had produced a male heir weighing 3.8 kilos.

The baby will be third in line to the throne and in the direct line of succession after head of state Queen Elizabeth II's eldest son and heir Prince Charles, and then his eldest son William.

"Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge was safely delivered of a son at 4:24 pm," Kensington Palace said in a statement just over four hours afterwards.

"The baby weighs 8lbs 6oz. The Duke of Cambridge was present for the birth."

The boy's name was not revealed, but he will be known as Prince of Cambridge.

The former Kate Middleton was admitted to the private Lindo Wing of St. Mary's Hospital, Paddington, central London, at around 6:00 am in the midst of a summer thunderstorm.

The birth was later officially announced to great cheers on a golden easel placed in the forecourt of Buckingham Palace.

William, at his wife's bedside, has been on annual leave and will take two weeks' paternity leave from his military job as a Royal Air Force search and rescue pilot.

Both mother and son were "doing well" and will remain in hospital overnight while the queen was "delighted with the news", according to the palace.

The birth came later than widely expected, adding to the sense of anticipation that has built up ever since William, whose mother Diana died in a Paris car crash in 1997, and the former Kate Middleton married with huge fanfare in April 2011.

Bookmakers had largely backed a girl baby, after Kate had said they did not know its sex.

The fact that it is a boy relieves the need to rush through new succession laws across the 16 Commonwealth realms, which would mean that a girl could no longer be overtaken by any future younger brothers.

The royal couple used a back entrance to the hospital when they arrived at 6:00 am (0500 GMT), missing the ranks of international media who have camped outside the hospital for three weeks.

The prince was born in the same hospital wing and media from across the globe are hoping for a repeat of the scene in 1982 when Charles and his first wife Diana brought out the baby to show him off to the world.

Royal fanatics gathering outside the hospital also took their excitement to a new level.

"I'm so excited. Like in a washing machine. Never been so high!" said John Loughrey, who has slept outside the hospital for seven nights, wrapped in a British flag.

The new arrival is Queen Elizabeth's third great-grandchild, and a first grandchild for Charles.

It ensures that there are three generations of heirs to the crown of the United Kingdom of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland -- a nuclear-armed UN Security Council permanent member and the world's sixth biggest economy.

The queen was seen arriving back at Buckingham Palace from Windsor Castle, just outside the capital, in mid-afternoon but other royals went about their usual business.

Charles, the current heir, was visiting York in northern England, where members of the public shouted "Congratulations!".

Smiling, he replied: "Do you know something I don't?"

Charles, who turns 65 in November, joked: "I'm very grateful indeed for the kind wishes for my rather slowly-approaching grandfatherhood."

Prime Minister David Cameron sent his best wishes to the couple and the "whole country is excited."

The pregnancy was announced in December when Kate was admitted to hospital with severe morning sickness.

At the Lindo Wing, a standard room and normal delivery – which Kate is hoping for – costs £4,965 (R74 800) for the first 24 hours, plus consultants' fees which can reach around £6 000.

The duchess is being tended by a top medical team led by the queen's gynaecologist Alan Farthing and his predecessor Marcus Setchell.

On the pavement opposite the hospital entrance, around 30 presenters lined up in a row delivering live broadcasts and clips, with photographers and journalists filling out the scene.

There has been a betting frenzy on the name of the royal newborn with bookmakers favouring a George and James for the top boys' names.

The weight of expectation on Britain's new royal baby is already huge but his father Prince William is ready to guide him in treading the fine line between duty and a private life.

William knew from an early age his role as second in line to the throne, just as his heir will soon learn what is expected of him.

Yet despite the responsibilities of his birth, and the trauma of losing his mother aged just 15 in a car crash, the Duke of Cambridge has managed to balance royal ribbon-cutting with a military career and a personal life of his own choosing.

He and Kate are expected to be hands-on parents, reflecting their own warm upbringings, and to fiercely protect the child's privacy as they have their own.

And while certain things will be expected of the new royal heir, William will likely battle hard to give him the same semblance of normality that he himself has enjoyed.

The prince is a Royal Air Force (RAF) search-and-rescue helicopter pilot in Wales, a job that gives him excitement and purpose as he waits potentially decades for the throne.

It also gave him the space to enjoy the first few years of marriage alone with his wife, the former Kate Middleton.

"You have to be slightly stubborn because everybody wants you for one reason or another," William once said.

William Arthur Philip Louis was born on June 21, 1982 into a life of wealth and privilege, although Diana ensured he and his younger brother Harry did not suffer the rather cold upbringing endured by their father.

She showered the boys with affection and, although they were brought up in a palace by nannies, took them on official trips and to charity events to see how ordinary people lived.

William has Diana's gift for engaging with people, and is an assured and often amusing public speaker.

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