LONDON — Buckingham Palace, with royal fanfare tweeted instantly around the world and a framed proclamation on an easel at the palace gates, announced the birth of a boy Monday to Prince William and his wife, the former Kate Middleton.
“Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cambridge was safely delivered of a son at 4:24 today,” the statement proclaimed, more than four hours after the birth. “Her royal highness and the child are both doing well.”
A palace statement said the child weighed 8 pounds 6 ounces and that William had been present. No name was immediately announced. Mother and baby were to remain in the hospital overnight.
The child is third in line to the throne, following Prince Charles and Prince William. His birth gives the royal family three generations of heirs to the throne for the first time since Queen Victoria’s rule.
Britain’s laws of royal succession were recently changed to ensure that a daughter would not be passed over for the crown by a younger brother. Under the change, the first-born child of crown prince is the prospective future monarch whether that child is a boy or a girl.
The announcement of the birth came more than 12 hours after Buckingham Palace said that the 31-year-old duchess and her husband had gone to St. Mary’s Hospital in London at 6 a.m. in the early stages of labor. Not another word emerged from royal officials, beyond the assurance from palace officials that matters were “progressing normally.”
Hundreds of reporters and photographers gathered by the hospital in Paddington, a district on the edge of central London, wilting in a heat wave. They were joined through the day by excited well-wishers from Britain and beyond, some pledging to stay until the birth was announced.
Queen Elizabeth II offered a faint signal that an early development might be at hand when she left her preferred London quarters at Windsor Palace and drove the 20 miles to Buckingham Palace. That put her in position to be on hand, her royal standard fluttering, when the birth was announced.
The statement from the palace said members of the family, including Queen Elizabeth and her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, as well as William’s father, Prince Charles, and his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall, “have been informed and are delighted with the news.”
Charles issued a statement saying that he was “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.”
Patient well-wishers held a 12-hour vigil at the palace gates, many of them craning for a better view and a photograph of the gates, where the official bulletin announcing the birth was posted. Men rode on friends’ shoulders. Others used step ladders.
The couple met in the early 2000s, when both were students at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, and their relationship, which was later hailed as a fairy tale union, proceeded sporadically for several years until their wedding in April 2011.
In some ways, the memory of William’s mother, Princess Diana, has hovered over the couple, and he has frequently made it clear that he wants to protect his wife from the intense media scrutiny associated with his mother.
Nevertheless, for weeks, photographers and camera crews have camped out with stepladders and other equipment outside St. Mary’s, where William, now a Royal Air Force search-and-rescue helicopter pilot, was born in June 1982. His brother, Harry, was born there in 1984.
The baby is expected to be known formally as the Prince of Cambridge. In the line of succession, he will be third after Charles, 64, and William, 31. Harry will be fourth.
The birth gave the House of Windsor, the reigning family in a line that stretches back more than 1,000 years, a sense of enhanced stability.
Such stability has been much sought after by Queen Elizabeth, whose 61 years on the throne is second in length to Queen Victoria.Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.