Britain and the world waited for news Monday afternoon, after Prince William's wife, Kate, checked into the private wing of a central London hospital and palace officials announced that she was in labor.
William was at his wife's side for the birth of their first child. It is a historic moment for the British monarchy - the baby will be third in line for the British throne, after Prince Charles and William, and should eventually become king or queen.
William and Kate entered St. Mary's Hospital in central London through a side door early Monday morning, avoiding the world's media. Kensington Palace 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.
"Things are progressing as normal," the couple's spokesman said.
Palace officials are not expected to provide many details about how her labor is progressing.
The baby is in line to become Britain's monarch and be recognized as head of state in 15 other countries, including Canada and Australia, playing a leading role in charting the future of the Commonwealth.
But little else is known, including how the baby will arrive - it is not clear if Kate will have a natural birth or deliver by a planned cesarean section - its gender and its name.
Prince Charles, about to become a grandfather, told well-wishers early Monday afternoon that he had not received any updates about Kate's condition.
Queen Elizabeth II, the expectant great-grandmother, arrived at Buckingham Palace Monday afternoon, drawing cheers from the crowd gathered to await the birth announcement.
Representatives of the world's media have been camped outside St. Mary's Hospital in central London for days, waiting for the birth of a child who will be third in line for the British throne.
But they will only get a hint of the news, when a royal aide emerges from the hospital with a signed bulletin carrying the Buckingham Palace letterhead. An official will take the bulletin to Buckingham Palace, where it will be posted on an easel in front of the building.
At the same time, 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 Prince William, the baby's father was born, a week passed before his name was announced.
So how do royal fans find out when the infant has arrived? The short answer: Ignore all rumors on social media until there is an official announcement from Buckingham Palace.
According to officials, the process will go something like this:
- Once the baby is born, doctors will sign a foolscap-size document, with the palace letterhead, giving the baby's gender and time of birth. It will be terse and formal - the language is dictated by protocol - and will read something like "The Duchess of Cambridge was safely delivered of a prince / princess." It may also provide the infant's weight. Foolscap is a traditional British paper size - rarely used nowadays - that is taller but slightly narrower than either A4 or U.S. letter size.
- A royal aide will give this bulletin to an official, whose task is to carry the news from the hospital to the palace. It's going to be a suspenseful short journey, about 15 minutes, and the drive will almost certainly be broadcast live to millions of television viewers worldwide.
- Once at the palace, the official will post the bulletin on a wooden easel placed in the frontcourt for the public to see.
- At the same time, the monarchy's official Twitter and Facebook accounts will announce the news online.
Prince William and Kate Middleton Timeline
Prince William and his wife, Kate, both 31, are expecting their first child, to be third in line for the throne. Here are some highlights of their lives and of the royal pregnancy:
-Sept. 2001: Prince William and Kate Middleton meet at St Andrews University in Scotland where they are both studying art history.
-Christmas 2003: The pair reportedly become a couple after sharing a house together with two friends. In March they are pictured together on a skiing holiday in Switzerland.
-Nov. 16, 2010: William and Kate's engagement is announced by Clarence House officials. The prince proposed to Kate while on a private holiday to Kenya the previous month.
-April 29, 2011: The pair wed in a lavish ceremony at London's Westminster Abbey. William is made the Duke of Cambridge by his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, and Kate becomes the Duchess of Cambridge.
-Dec. 3, 2012: The palace announces that Kate is pregnant and being treated in the hospital for acute morning sickness. Kate is discharged from the hospital after three nights, telling reporters she is feeling "much better." The palace later announces that the baby is due in July.
-Feb. 5: The couple holiday on the Caribbean island of Mustique with Kate's parents.
-March 5: Kate apparently lets slip that she is expecting a daughter on a solo visit to Grimsby. Accepting a teddy bear from a member of the public, she apparently replies: "Oh, is this for our d...? Thank you so much." The possible slip of the tongue prompts a wave of betting on a royal daughter.
-March 17: Kate tells a soldier at a St Patrick's Day parade that they do not know the sex of the child, but says she would like a boy and William a girl.
-March 20: Kate given a "Baby on board" badge when she joins the Queen and Prince Philip at Baker Street underground station to mark the 150th anniversary of the Tube.
-May 11: Kate and William attend William van Cutsem and Rosie Ruck Keene's wedding in Oxfordshire, England. The pair reportedly take to the dance floor despite Kate being seven months pregnant.
-June 4: William and Kate return to their wedding venue at Westminster Abbey when they join the royal family for a service marking the 60th anniversary of the Queen's Coronation at Westminster Abbey.
-June 13: Kate carries out her final solo engagement before going on maternity leave when she names a new cruise liner - the Royal Princess - in Southampton.
-June 15: The Duchess makes her last scheduled public appearance before the birth at the Trooping the Color parade.
-June 19: It is confirmed Kate is planning to give birth at the private Lindo Wing of St. Mary's Hospital in Paddington in central London, where Princess Diana gave birth to William and Prince Harry. It is reported Kate is hoping for a natural birth.
-July 22: Kate and William arrive at the hospital in the early morning and Kensington Palace confirms that Kate is in labor.
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