After many weeks of waiting, the royal baby is on the way. Kensington Palace officials confirmed Monday morning that Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, had been admitted to St. Mary’s Hospital in London in the early stages of labor.
According to the palace, the Duchess traveled by car to the hospital, accompanied by her husband, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, the grandson of the current British Queen, Elizabeth II.
William and Kate entered St. Mary’s Hospital in central London through a side door early Monday morning, avoiding the world’s media. Palace officials confirmed her arrival about 90 minutes later.
Royal officials said they traveled by car, without a police escort, just before 6 a.m. Kate — also known as the Duchess of Cambridge — is expected to give birth in the private Lindo Wing of the hospital, where Princess Diana also gave birth to William and his younger brother, Prince Harry.
The couple’s spokesman said, “Things are progressing as normal,” while Sky News’ royal correspondent Paul Harrison said the Duchess’ condition had been described as “very well”.
“It seems it was a very orderly arrival,” Harrison reported. “There were two vehicles. A Ranger Rover-type vehicle, and behind it there was an Audi vehicle.
“Prince William had said from the beginning that he wanted to be alongside his wife when she went into labor.”
The child, whose gender is unknown, would be third in line to the throne of Great Britain, behind Charles, Prince of Wales, and William.
Representatives of the world’s press had been gathered for days outside of St. Mary’s Hospital. The Duchess’ exact due date had been a closely guarded secret, but the general sense was that the royal baby’s arrival was overdue by at least one or two days.
Protocol requires that the queen be informed about the birth before the general public is told.
Palace officials have said that the first hint will come when a royal aide emerges from the hospital with a signed bulletin carrying the Buckingham Palace letterhead. The bulletin will be given to an official who will be driven to Buckingham Palace, where it will be posted on an easel in public view in front of the building.
It was the exact way officials announced the birth of Prince Charles in 1948 and Prince William in 1982, though this time around the monarchy has moved with the times and added social media as an easier way to reach more people.
At the same time the bulletin is posted, there will be an official announcement on Twitter and the media will be formally notified. The document will give the baby’s gender, weight and time of birth.
It could be some time before the baby’s name is made public. When William was born, a week passed before his name was announced. Charles’s name remained a mystery for an entire month.
But it is the baby’s gender that is of particular interest because the prospect of Kate’s pregnancy prompted a change to laws of succession to ensure a daughter would not be passed over for the crown by a younger brother. Boy or girl, the child will be the prospective future monarch.
The birth of a new heir to the throne has been breathlessly anticipated by many Britons since William and Kate wed on April 29, 2011.
Despite a rough start to the pregnancy, when she was hospitalized for acute morning sickness, the 31-year-old Kate made a number of public appearances that were halted only near the end of her term.
Since the duchess has cut back on her royal duties, media outlets have been clamoring for position outside of the hospital in anticipation of the birth, jockeying to secure the best vantage point for filming William and Kate emerging, babe in arms.