The little princess: it's a girl for Kate and Will
UK royals 'delighted' as Duke and Duchess have a daughter
Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, yesterday gave birth to a baby girl, fourth in line to the UK throne.
The great Kate Wait had lasted for 237 days, but when it finally ended, it was a masterpiece of stage-management.
Births have a habit of being difficult and unpredictable, but so poised is the Duchess of Cambridge that the arrival of her second child seemed as perfectly planned as an official royal visit.
Aside from the small matter of the baby being nine days overdue, it might have been just another diary date for the Duchess as she produced the Princess that she and her family had been hoping for.
Just over 12 hours after being admitted to hospital, the Duchess, looking as fresh as morning dew, showed off her new baby daughter to the expectant world.
The day could not have gone any more smoothly.
The Duchess had been at Kensington Palace with the Duke of Cambridge when she started to go into labour in the early hours of the morning. A mile away, photographers had been waiting outside the Lindo Wing of St Mary's Hospital in Paddington for days, determined to get an exclusive photograph of the Duchess arriving.
But, just as she had done when Prince George was born two years ago, she and her police bodyguards managed to give them the slip.
In a virtual re-run of her hospital admission in July 2013, the Duchess, in a silver Mercedes estate car (Range Rovers and Jaguars are the usual royal vehicles), arrived at 6am and slipped unseen into the aptly named Cambridge Entrance.
As she settled into the Lindo Wing, her communications staff prepared to break the news to the rest of the world.
At 6.34am, royal correspondents received an email: "The Duchess of Cambridge has been admitted to St Mary's Hospital in the early stages of labour."
The Duke of Cambridge, who was present for the birth of the 8lbs 3oz (3.7kg) baby girl, brought his 21-month-old son Prince George to visit his sister at St Mary's Hospital, west London.
He told the waiting crowds the couple were "very happy".
Both Catherine and her daughter are "doing well", Kensington Palace said.
The Prince of Wales, who had earlier said he was hoping for a granddaughter, and the Duchess of Cornwall said they were "absolutely delighted".
Some 250 miles away from her new great-grandchild, Queen Elizabeth II wore pink - for a girl, of course - as she carried out official duties in Richmond, North Yorkshire, where there was no shortage of well-wishers.
The latest royal joins the line of succession behind her grandfather Prince Charles, father Prince William and brother Prince George, who was born at the same hospital in July 2013.
Kate and William already have a full-time nanny and plenty of help from the Middletons, but the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge seem set to hire another, temporary nanny to help them through the first weeks.
The couple were determined to manage without professional help when George was born, but he was not a good sleeper and the Duchess became exhausted after countless sleepless nights.
They eventually accepted they needed help, and approached the world-famous Norland nanny agency when George was seven months old. They hired and hired Spaniard Maria Borrallo as nanny.
This time around, they have reportedly made arrangements through Norland for a maternity nurse to work full-time for at least three months to get them through the most difficult period of their new daughter's life.
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The new princess will be introduced to both her palatial homes within the first week of her life, as the Duke and Duchess will spend "a couple of days" at Kensington Palace, their London home, giving them long enough for the Queen, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall to be introduced to the newest member of the royal family, together with the Duchess's parents, Michael and Carole Middleton, and her siblings, Pippa and James.
Then, they will decamp to Anmer Hall, their Georgian mansion on the Queen's Sandringham estate, where they will spend the rest of the month together, getting used to life as a nuclear family and persuading the lively Prince George that he is no longer the centre of attention.
Carole and Michael Middleton will be house guests, helping the Duchess to look after her two children, and giving her a chance to escape with Prince William for walks with their dog, Lupo. The Middletons spent "weeks" at Anmer over Christmas.
"It's a very important time for the family to be together and spend some private time together. It's probably easier to do that in the country than in central London," said one royal source.