Nation & World

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, gives birth to a baby boy

Following a long-standing tradition, the birth of a baby boy in the royal family was announced on a ceremonial easel outside Buckingham palace in London on Monday. MUST CREDIT: Handout photo
Following a long-standing tradition, the birth of a baby boy in the royal family was announced on a ceremonial easel outside Buckingham palace in London on Monday. MUST CREDIT: Handout photo

LONDON — Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, gave birth to a baby boy on Monday morning, touching off widespread jubilation — and a few yawns — across Britain. Her husband, Prince William, 35, was by her side for the birth of their third child.

“The baby weighed 8lbs 7oz,” Kensington Palace said in a tweet, of all things. “The Duke of Cambridge was present for the birth. Her Royal Highness and her child are both doing well.”

According to tradition, news of the birth was later displayed on an easel in front of Buckingham Palace, but by then everyone knew the news.

Minutes after the birth, Britons began to joke that Will and Kate, as the couple are informally known, will now have a palace filled with heirs and spares.

The soon-to-named babe is fifth in line for the throne — not a bad resume for his first day on the job.

In the dynastic line to succeed great-grandmother Queen Elizabeth II, who turned 92 on Saturday, the baby is behind grandfather Prince Charles, father William, brother Prince George and sister Princess Charlotte. A 2013 act of Parliament removed preference for male heirs. The child is the queen’s sixth great-grandchild.

The baby knocks William’s brother, Prince Harry, down a notch in the succession to the throne. Next month, Harry will marry American actress Meghan Markle.

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“I knew it. Oh, what a day,” said Margaret Ashford, who was visiting the hospital to see a sick friend, when the nearby streets erupted with people shouting — in muted British fashion — “It’s a boy!”

People on the hospital byways glanced at their mobile phones and read the weight aloud out, “8 pounds, 7 ounces.”

By midday Monday, the roadway in front of the maternity entrance at St. Mary’s Hospital was lined with hundreds of reporters, speaking a babel of languages and doing stand-ups with cameras pointed at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

A few hours after the birth announcement, but before the royal threesome emerged to greet the news cameras, a stout man wearing a tricorn hat with feathers and knee breeches unfurled a faux parchment — like a royal crier — and roared: “Oyez, oyez, oyez! We’ve got a royal baby, a prince!”

Greeters handed out Union Jack flags with the word “Hello!” printed on them, and correspondents milled around the smaller number of ordinary Britons, tourists and patients.

One man carried a painting that depicted the royals as a biblical first family, with Kate atop a donkey holding an infant and sporting a halo.

The Daily Mail said Kate’s personal stylist was spotted at the maternity ward. “Natasha Archer, who has been working with the royals for almost 10 years, left St. Mary’s in Paddington just after 10 a.m., after Kate went into labour in the early hours of Monday morning,” the tabloid reported.

Despite being overshadowed by that other upcoming royal event, the clamor surrounding the birth of the royal baby has ratcheted up in recent weeks.

This is in large part due to parking authorities.

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Kensington Palace said the baby was due in April. It never dished on the exact due date. Earlier this month, however, yellow signs appeared outside the Lindo Wing of St. Mary’s Hospital, announcing parking restrictions from April 9 to 30 because of an “event.” As students of royal baby births know, this was code for the Royal. Baby. Watch. Is. On.

A clutch of die-hard royal fans quickly changed into Union Jack-themed attire and made a beeline for St. Mary’s Hospital, a short drive from the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s home at Kensington Palace. For days now, they have slept on benches and in tents outside the hospital, opined on baby names with journalists, and stared at the door to the private maternity unit where Kate would give birth.

“If it’s a boy, they could call it Philip Michael. Philip after the duke and Michael after Catherine’s father,” mused John Loughrey, 63, before the announcement.

The former chef, along with a handful of other hard-core royal fans, has been sleeping in a red tent outside the Lindo Wing since April 9. He said that the staff at the hospital has been generous, offering them showers, coffee and food.

To be sure, the royal baby fever never really rose to the soaring temperatures reached when Kate gave birth to her first child. Yes, the British satirical magazine Private Eye memorably published “Woman Has Baby” on its front cover in response to the birth of George, but its delightfully ironic response was to be expected.

In 2013, the nation was gripped by the news of the birth of George, and journalists from around the world camped outside the hospital for the “Great Kate Wait.” The day of the birth was greeted by prime-time specials and wall-to-wall media coverage. And that was just in the United States.

But a royal baby is still a royal baby, even if it’s the third one. Attention will soon shift to the name of Baby Cambridge, which may not be announced immediately. George was two days old when the world learned of his name.

Luckily, British bookies, who will take bets on nearly anything, are here to help fill that void. Arthur, Albert and Jack are top picks. And to be fair to the bookies, George and Charlotte were two of their top picks for the other Cambridge children.

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Rupert Adams, a spokesman for the bookmaker William Hill, said that for George, the bookmaker took in about 1 million pounds ($1.4 million) in bets; for Charlotte, it was about 800,000 pounds ($1.1 million).

“We’d be chuffed if we got 600,000 this time,” he said. “It is the third child.”

Last year, William quit his job as an air ambulance pilot, and he and Kate packed up the family from their residence in Norfolk and moved to Kensington Palace, in central London. George started school last year in Battersea, south London, and earlier this year Charlotte started at a nursery near the palace.

Within seconds of hearing that Kate had been admitted to hospital, Twitter erupted in celebration. The hashtag #RoyalBaby began trending in Britain.

As royal baby fever soared in Britain, some, seemed a little less fazed. “The Duchess of Cambridge is pregnant? I didn’t know,” wrote one Twitter user.

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