Baby boy for Britain’s William and Kate

Monday, July 22nd, 2013. Filed under: International Stars World News

By Danny KEMP, James PHEBY

Crowds of tourists gather on the steps of the Queen Victoria Memorial Statue outside Buckingham Palace in central London on July 22, 2013. ©AFP PHOTO / JUSTIN TALLIS

Crowds of tourists gather on the steps of the Queen Victoria Memorial Statue outside Buckingham Palace in central London on July 22, 2013.

LONDON, July 22, 2013 (AFP) – Britain’s Prince William and his wife Kate were celebrating on Monday after she gave birth to a baby boy, providing the world’s most famous royal family with a future king.

Cheering crowds rushed towards the gates of Buckingham Palace as it was announced that the Duchess of Cambridge had produced a male heir weighing 8lbs 6oz (3.8 kilos).

The as-yet unnamed baby is third in line to the throne and in the direct line of succession after Queen Elizabeth II’s eldest son and heir Prince Charles, then his eldest son William.

The former Kate Middleton, 31, spent just over eight hours in labor after she and William went around dawn to the private wing of a London hospital, with the world’s media camped outside.

“Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge was safely delivered of a son at 4:24 pm (1524 GMT),” 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 birth was at the private Lindo wing of St Mary’s Hospital, Paddington – the same place that the late Princess Diana gave birth to William in 1982.

Royal aides later placed a formal bulletin on a gold easel in the forecourt of Buckingham Palace which said that both Kate and her son were “doing well”.

The queen, 87, said she was “delighted” while Prince Charles said he was overjoyed. Prime Minister David Cameron said it was an “important moment in the life of our nation”.

US President Barack Obama’s spokesman said shortly before the birth that he and the first family “wish the family and all of Great Britain well on this pending momentous occasion”.

The arrival of a royal baby and a new generation for the British monarchy has been hotly anticipated ever since the couple married in 2011 after a decade-long romance.

The popular couple have been widely credited with revitalizing “The Firm”, as the British royals are known, following decades of scandal and the death of Diana in a Paris car crash in 1997.

The palace said the boy’s name would be revealed later, but he will be known as Prince of Cambridge. Bookmakers say the favourites are George and James.

William, also 31, who was at his wife’s bedside for the birth, has been on annual leave and will take two weeks’ paternity leave from his job as a Royal Air Force search and rescue pilot.

Kate and her new baby will remain in hospital overnight, the palace said.

Cannon fire will ring out across London on Tuesday, with separate army units letting off a 62 gun salute at the Tower of London and 41 gun salute at Green Park.

The birth came later than widely expected, adding to the sense of anticipation—as well as the frustrations of hundreds of international media who have waited outside the hospital for three weeks.

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

Prince Charles said that he and his second wife Camilla were “overjoyed at the arrival of my first grandchild”.

“It is an incredibly special moment for William and Catherine and we are so thrilled for them on the birth of their baby boy,” the 64-year-old heir to the throne said in a statement.

“Grandparenthood is a unique moment in anyone’s life, as countless kind people have told me in recent months, so I am enormously proud and happy to be a grandfather for the first time and we are eagerly looking forward to seeing the baby in the near future.”

The queen and her husband Prince Philip were “delighted” at the news, Buckingham Palace said.

Kate was admitted to the hospital at around 6:00 am in the midst of a summer thunderstorm, and she and William took a back entrance to avoid the media.

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.

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.

Cameron said outside his Downing Street office that it was “wonderful news”.

“It is an important moment in the life of our nation. A proud nation is celebrating with a very proud and happy couple tonight,” Cameron said.

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

A pall fell over the proceedings when a nurse at the hospital committed suicide following a prank call by two Australian radio hosts pretending to be the queen and Prince Charles.

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