The waiting’s over as Kate gives birth to boy
Announcement of arrival of future king greeted with delight by crowds at hospital
Britain has a new future king after Kate Middleton gave birth to a baby boy last night.
The baby, whose name has not yet been made public, arrived at 4.24pm weighing 8lbs 6oz.
Kate had been in labour for more than 11 hours but both she and the baby were said to be "doing well" as they prepared to spend last night in hospital.
Her husband William, who was present for the birth, personally phoned Queen Elizabeth to give her the news. He then called his father Prince Charles, brother Prince Harry and the Middleton family, who were able to speak to Kate briefly.
The Prince of Wales said he was "overjoyed" at the news and was "eagerly looking forward" to seeing his first grandchild.
After a day in which the UK had waited expectantly for news it seemed was never going to come, the couple decided to delay the announcement of the birth for four hours because "they wanted to spend a bit of time with their baby first, and needed to make the necessary phone calls to the queen and other members of their families", an aide said.
"Everyone is absolutely delighted. It's been a wonderful day," the aide added.
The news finally came at 8.29pm, with the formal announcement that "The Duchess of Cambridge has been delivered of a son". It was greeted by loud cheers outside the Lindo Wing of St Mary's Hospital in Paddington, where hundreds of members of the public had gathered, sensing a historic moment might be imminent.
A spokesman for the happy couple said that all the members of the royal family were "absolutely delighted" at the news.
British Prime Minister David Cameron declared the birth "an important moment in the life of our nation".
Speaking outside 10 Downing Street, he said: "It is wonderful news and I am sure that right across the country, and indeed right across the Commonwealth, people will be celebrating and wishing the royal couple well.
"It is an important moment in the life of our nation but, I suppose, above all it is a wonderful moment for a warm and loving couple who have got a brand new baby boy.
"It has been a remarkable few years for our royal family – a royal wedding that captured people's hearts, that extraordinary and magnificent jubilee and now this royal birth – all from a family that has given this nation so much incredible service.
"They can know that a proud nation is celebrating with a very proud and happy couple tonight."
Kate, who had been admitted to the hospital at 5.30am when she was already in the "early stages" of labour, gave birth naturally, under the supervision of the queen's former gynaecologist Marcus Setchell.
Guy Thorpe-Beeston, a consultant obstetrician at the hospital, and Dr Sunit Godambe, consultant neonatologist at St Mary's, were also present at the birth. The queen's gynaecologist, Alan Farthing, was not present.
The baby, who will be called Prince (name) of Cambridge, replaces Prince Harry as the third in line to the throne. It is the first time for more than 100 years that three direct heirs to the throne have been alive at the same time.
The Prince of Wales said in a statement: "Both my wife and I are overjoyed at the arrival of my first grandchild. It is an incredibly special moment for William and Catherine and we are so thrilled for them on the birth of their baby boy.
"Grandparenthood is a unique moment in anyone's life, as countless kind people have told me in recent months, so I am 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."
Kensington Palace decided at the last minute to issue a press release to the media before a bulletin bearing the baby's details had left St Mary's.
Minutes later, the duke's press secretary, Ed Perkins, emerged from the front door of the Lindo Wing carrying a red leather folder with the baby's details on a piece of paper inside, which he handed to an orderly in a waiting Jaguar to be driven to Buckingham Palace.
The bulletin was then driven to Buckingham Palace where it was placed on an easel – previously used to announce Prince William's birth – within view of hundreds of people who had waited there all day hoping to be first with the news.
The baby's sex means that Britain is likely to be ruled by kings for 80 years or more when Prince Charles succeeds the queen. It also means that changes in the rules of succession, agreed by Parliament and the Commonwealth nations to give girls parity with boys, may will not be needed for another generation.
Early yesterday, Kate and William had managed to give the world's media the slip when they were driven from Kensington Palace to the hospital, going in through a back entrance.
By Gordon Rayner