Duchess of Cambridge Gives Birth to a Boy

LONDON — With royal fanfare tweeted instantly around the world, Buckingham Palace on Monday announced the birth of a boy to Prince William and his wife, the former Kate Middleton, placing a framed proclamation on an easel at the palace gates.
 “Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cambridge was safely delivered of a son at 4:24 today,” the statement proclaimed, nearly five hours after the actual birth. “Her royal highness and the child are both doing well.”
A palace statement said the child weighed eight pounds six ounces and that William had been present. Mother and baby would remain in the hospital overnight.
No name was immediately announced. The child is third in line to the throne.
The announcement came more than 12 hours after Buckingham Palace said early Monday morning that the 31-year-old duchess had gone to St. Mary’s Hospital in London in the early stages of labor. Then not another word emerged from royal officials, beyond the bland assurance from palace officials that matters were “progressing normally.”
Queen Elizabeth offered a faint signal that an early development might be at hand when she left her preferred London quarters at Windsor Palace and drove the 20 miles to Buckingham Palace. That put her in position to be on hand, her royal standard fluttering, when the birth was announced.
A message on Twitter was the first of a series of carefully scripted disclosures that culminated in the announcement of an event that appeared to be drawing unparalleled media coverage, even in the annals of Britain’s headline-making royal family. Live-streaming cameras have been trained on the hospital, and even on the easel where the announcement of the birth was formally posted.
“Her royal highness the Duchess of Cambridge has been admitted to St. Mary’s Hospital, Paddington, London, in the early stages of labour,” said a message from Clarence House, the official residence of the duchess and her husband, Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge.
The duchess had traveled by car to the hospital from another royal residence, Kensington Palace, a second message said. Reporters outside the hospital said the couple had slipped in through a side entrance, largely unobserved by the waiting press corps.
The couple met in the early 2000s, when both were students at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, and their relationship, which was later hailed as a fairy tale union, proceeded sporadically for several years until their wedding in April 2011.
In some ways, the phantom of William’s mother, the late Princess Diana, has hovered over the couple, and he has frequently made it clear that he wants to protect his wife from the intense media scrutiny associated with his mother.
Nevertheless, for weeks, photographers and camera crews have camped out with stepladders and other equipment outside St. Mary’s, where William, now a Royal Air Force search-and-rescue helicopter pilot, was himself born in June 1982. His brother, Harry, was born there in 1984.
The period preceding the birth, however, was marked by a display of restraint among Britain’s usually aggressive tabloids, with no sign of photographs of the royal couple from clandestine stakeouts.
Intrusive and highly competitive coverage of royal events was common for decades. But Britain’s tabloids have been chastened by public opprobrium resulting from a phone-hacking scandal that led to broad scrutiny by Parliament, the public and the police of the way the media operate.
The baby is expected to be known formally as the Prince of Cambridge. In the line of succession, he will be third after Prince Charles, 64, and William, 31. Prince Harry will be fourth.
The excitement over the birth has been depicted as offering a likely counterpoint to Britain’s economic austerity, buoying a public mood that has been elevated by a series of sporting successes in cricket, rugby and cycling after London hosted the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. An unusual heat wave, meanwhile, has brought picnickers and strollers out in droves across the land in parks, on beaches and at heaths and wilderness areas.
The medical team in charge of the birth included two senior royal gynecologists, Marcus Setchell and Alan Farthing, news reports said.
The duchess was in the Lindo Wing of St. Mary’s Hospital, a private obstetric unit charging about $7,500 for normal delivery facilities over 24 hours, apart from consultants’ fees running at about $9,000.

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