Prince William’s wife, Catherine, was admitted to hospital yesterday in the early stages of labor as the world awaited the birth of a baby in line to inherit the British throne.
The royal couple, both 31, were driven from Kensington Palace to a private London hospital wing at about 6am.
Dozens of international media waited outside the Lindo wing of St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington on a hot summer’s day while royal fans waving Union Jacks were also starting to gather.
The baby will be born third in line to the throne and in the direct line of succession after Queen Elizabeth II’s eldest son and heir, Prince Charles, and then William.
“Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge has been admitted this morning to St Mary’s Hospital, Paddington, London in the early stages of labor,” Kensington Palace said in a statement.
“Things are progressing as normal,” a spokesman added.
The couple say they do not know the sex of the baby.
If it is a girl, then new succession laws being brought in across the 16 Commonwealth realms would mean that she could no longer be overtaken by any future younger brothers.
The couple’s early morning arrival at the hospital coincided with thunder and lightning as a huge storm over London brought the first rain for weeks after a major heat wave in Britain.
International press have been crammed cheek by jowl on the opposite side of the street for three weeks.
About 100 members of the media were buzzing about yesterday, with about 30 presenters lined up in a row delivering live broadcasts.
There has been a betting frenzy on the name of the baby.
“There is a clear view that the baby will be a girl so there are lots of activity around girls’ names,” a spokeswoman for William Hill said. “Alexandra and Charlotte are the most popular.”
Other favored names are Diana, Elizabeth and Victoria, with George and James picked by those who think the baby will be a boy.