LONDON — It’s a princess!
The Great Kate Wait, as the British media had dubbed it, ended at 8:34 a.m. with the birth of a girl who becomes the fourth in the line of succession to the throne.
The Duchess of Cambridge, Catherine Middleton’s daughter, weighed 3.7 kilograms when she was born in the Lindo Wing of St. Mary’s Hospital.
A statement from Kensington Palace announced the birth of Queen Elizabeth’s great-granddaughter about four hours after it happened. The palace said that both mother and daughter were “doing well.”
Steve Parsons/Pool/APAn easel is placed in the forecourt of Buckingham Palace in London to announce the birth of the royal baby, Saturday, May 2, 2015.
The royal hairdresser was said to be have entered the hospital, suggesting that the parents and their daughter might leave the hospital with “the spare to the heir” by the end of the day.
The next big question is the name of the baby. There is a chance that that may also be known by the end of the day.
It has been widely reported that as with their first child, Prince George, who was born 20 months ago, Will and Kate had specifically asked not to be told in advance the sex of their daughter. As it is a girl, she will for the first time be placed ahead of any male siblings born after her because of changes to the laws on royal primogeniture in Britain and in Canada.
The duchess was seen arriving at the Lindo Wing with her husband, Prince William, at 6:00 a.m. (1 a.m. EDT) Saturday.
“It is always worth waiting for,” said Terry Hutt, an octogenarian who has shown up at almost every royal event for decades.
“It’s wonderful that is a girl. That means there will be even more royal babies in the future. The present group of royals is getting old and so am I. We all need to be refreshed.”
Thirty-four minutes later, as two London bobbies arrived to stand guard in front of the doors of the hospital on a gloomy, chilly morning, Kensington Palace announced the duchess had been admitted to St. Mary’s “in the early stages of labour.” A second bulletin at about 8 a.m. said the birth was “proceeding normally.”
That cryptic message was taken to mean that the birth of the baby, which was believed to be at least one week overdue, was not being induced.
The baby, whose birth was proclaimed on Twitter as well as on an easel in front of Buckingham Palace, is a sibling for George, who was also born a week late – after Kate spent 11 hours in labour in the same hospital.
The young prince, who has seldom been in public, was said to be at home at nearby Kensington Palace with his Spanish nanny, Maria Borrallo.
The birth of Will and Kate’s second child attracted far less of a media circus than the hullabaloo that surrounded the George’s arrival, when hundreds of journalists from around the world kept a constant vigil outside St. Mary’s for several weeks.
At the request of Will and Kate, who did not want a repeat of that tawdry show, police refused to let journalists and cameramen gather this time outside the hospital until the duchess had gone into labour. So, against the expectation of the huge royal press corps — many of whom spent long days and nights sitting in cars in sidestreets near the hospital — it appears that not one of the posse of royal photographers captured the arrival of Kate at the hospital.
However, within minutes of the announcement that Kate was in labour, hundreds of media began to pour into the narrow side street in front of the Lindo Wing to report on the next child of the most watched couple in the world. The media mob shared the pavement with the usual crush of jovial royal loyalists in the requisite Union Jack outfits, as well as scores of curious tourists and passersby heading into the hospital.
AP Photo/Tim IrelandCrowds gather as Tony Appleton, a town crier, announces to the assembled media the birth of the royal baby.
Despite the media restrictions, there has been massive speculation about the impending birth and what it might mean for Prince George, who has rarely been seen in public since his birth. One of the more curious stories was how, according to managers of Britain’s ubiquitous betting houses, the odds on what second born’s name would be changed hugely in favour of Charlotte this week, as the bettors’ early favourite, Alice, fell back sharply. But Alice was once again the most popular name among those placing bets on Friday.
Will’s father, and Queen Elizabeth’s heir, Prince Charles, said earlier this week that he was hoping for a granddaughter.
According to Kensington Palace, Charles and other members of the royal family have all been informed that Kate was in labour.
Although no official due date was ever announced, professional royal observers had insisted for months that the baby was expected sometime between April 23 and April 25. As those days fell away with no news, media coverage soared.
Britons were told that Kate was trying to naturally induce labour by going swimming. There were also a spate of learned articles about the advantages and disadvantages of doctors and midwives inducing labour and how doctors would not allow her to go more than two weeks past her due date, whenever that actually is or was.
BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Town crier Tony Appleton, who holds no official role, announces the birth of the royal baby. He similarly ambushed proceedings after the birth of Prince George in 2013, but he looks so happy doing it, so who's going to stop him?
The greatest stir occurred on April 29 when Kate took the wheel of the family Range Rover, with Will in the passenger seat, and popped over to Buckingham Palace from their home at Kensington Palace to apparently have a chat with the prince’s grandmother, Queen Elizabeth.
One day later there was great excitement on all the live blogs, soon dashed, when a helicopter spotted a convoy gathering outside Kensington Palace. In fact, the progress of every royal convoy around the city has been noted and charted for several weeks. Alas, for those waiting for this blessed event, none of them headed in the direction of the hospital until shortly after dawn on Saturday.
With the birth, Will’s brother, Prince Harry, who returned to Australia from London on an army secondment on Tuesday, is pushed down to fifth in the line of succession to the throne. Charles’s brother, Prince Andrew, drops from fifth to sixth.
It has been widely noted by the British media that Andrew’s daughter, Princess Beatrice of York, who had been the first female in the line of succession would move to the seventh in the succession chart and no longer be required to ask the Queen’s permission to marry.