LONDON — Champagne bottles popped and shouts of “Hip! Hip! Hooray!” erupted at Buckingham Palace yesterday as Britain welcomed the birth of Prince William and his wife Kate’s first child, a boy who is now third in line to the British throne.
Hundreds of Britons and tourists broke into song and dance outside the palace as officials announced that the future king was born at 4:24 p.m., weighing 8 pounds, 6 ounces, at central London’s St. Mary’s Hospital — the same place where William and his brother Harry were born three decades ago.
The imminent arrival of the royal baby was the subject of endless speculation on social media and was covered for days on live television around the world, but in the end the royal family managed to keep it a remarkably private affair.
In line with royal tradition, a terse statement announced only the time of birth, the infant’s gender and that mother and child were doing well. It gave no information about the baby’s name, and officials would say only that a name would be announced “in due course.”
“Her Royal Highness and her child are both doing well and will remain in hospital overnight,” the statement read in part. William also issued a brief statement, saying, “We could not be happier.”
Officials said William, who was by his wife’s side during the birth, would also spend the night in the hospital.
William’s press aides had talked about preserving Kate’s “dignity” throughout the pregnancy, and the way the birth was handled showed that the palace’s impressive stagecraft could give the royals a bubble of privacy even in the age of Twitter and 24-hour news broadcasts.
Just before 6 a.m., 31-year-old Kate, also known as the Duchess of Cambridge, entered the hospital through a side door, avoiding the mass of journalists camped outside. Officials did not announce she was hospitalized until more than an hour later.