The Duchess of Cambridge was hoping for a son and her wish has come true.
Midway through her pregnancy, Kate told a soldier at a St Patrick’s Day parade in Aldershot, Hampshire, that she did not know the sex of her baby, but that she would like a boy.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s as-yet-unnamed son weighed 8lb 6oz after being born at 4.24pm at the private Lindo wing of St Mary’s Hospital in London.
The Duke of Cambridge issued a brief statement last night saying: “We could not be happier.”
Well wishers from around the world screamed with excitement as news of the birth of the baby spread to Buckingham Palace.
One man shouted: “It’s a boy,” prompting crowds to erupt into spontaneous cheering, ahead of the easel being placed in the forecourt.
There were three cheers of “hip hip hooray,” as the crowd outside the palace gates swelled to more than 10 deep.
Many had been waiting patiently for confirmation of the birth ever since news of the Duchess going into labour yesterday morning.
The Prince of Wales said that he was “enormously proud and happy to be a grandfather for the first time”, adding it was “an incredibly special moment for William and Catherine.
“Both my wife and I are overjoyed at the arrival of my first grandchild.
“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.”
A smiling David Cameron declared the birth “an important moment in the life of our nation’.
Speaking outside 10 Downing St, Britain’s prime minister said: “It is wonderful news from St Mary’s, Paddington, and I am sure that right across the country, and indeed right across the Commonwealth, people will be celebrating and wishing the royal couple well.
“It is an important moment in the life of our nation but, I suppose, above all it is a wonderful moment for a warm and loving couple who have got a brand new baby boy.”
Soon after the announcement was made, a notice giving details about the baby — the third-in-line to the throne — left St Mary’s Hospital in London by car for Buckingham Palace.
It has been signed by the Queen’s gynaecologist Marcus Setchell, who led the medical team that delivered Kate’s baby.
The notice was placed on an easel in the palace’s forecourt just like the announcement of William’s birth on Jun 21, 1982, a traditional element of theatre in marked contrast to the modern age of emails and Twitter.
The framed A4 sheet of paper suddenly became the subject of a thousand camera flashes, as a sea of patient well-wishers thrust their smartphones through the railings in an effort to catch a first glimpse of the easel.
Grown men were seen riding on friends’ shoulders, while others used step ladders to get an elevated position.
Police were sent in with the crowds, as many scrambled to get the best vantage point. But the wait to see the easel, designed to bring an end to a 12-hour vigil at the palace gates for some, proved too much.
Dr Setchell said “wonderful baby, beautiful baby’ as he left the hospital at around 9.20pm alongside other members of the medical team.
The new royal baby will be the Queen’s third great-grandchild and is destined to be crowned monarch.
He will be the 43rd sovereign since William the Conqueror if, as expected, it follows reigns by Charles and then William.
The birth of the baby prince means the monarchy has three generations of heirs to the throne for the first time since 1894.
The last time the monarch met her great-grandson was when Queen Victoria was alive at the same time as her son Edward (later Edward VII), his son George (later George V) and his son Edward.
Royal biographer Christopher Warwick noted: “Obviously the great thing is that the new royal birth secures the line of succession for the third generation, which is the first time since 1894 since the birth of Queen Victoria’s great-grandson, the future Edward VIII.
“We have got the sovereign and three heirs living in Charles, the heir presumptive in William, and now the baby prince — from that point of view it is good news.
“It is also great news for William and Kate that their first child is safely born.”
Charles Kidd, editor of Debretts, said: “It is really good news that there is a further generation in the direct line of succession and that it is a healthy male child.
“I would have been saying the same thing if it had been a girl but I think that for traditionalists the fact that it is a boy makes things easier.”
He could only guess at the name but suggested that “whatever the name, I am sure it will reflect both the Wales and Middleton heritage”.
Historian and broadcaster David Starkey said: “For the very first time it has made no difference what the gender of the child is — it is the heir and it is as simple as that.
“The fact that it is a boy postpones the idea of authentic female succession.
“It means that the effect of the act that everybody has been labouring over will not now be felt for 100 years.”
Gun salutes will sound across London today to mark the birth of the baby.
The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery and the Honourable Artillery Company will both carry out the ceremonial salutes.
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