The Duchess of Cambridge is admitted to St Mary’s Hospital in London to have her baby, accompanied by her husband Prince William.
The duchess travelled by car from Kensington Palace to the Lindo wing of the hospital with the Duke of Cambridge just before 6am on Monday.
A palace statement read: “Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge has been admitted this morning to St Mary’s Hospital, Paddington, London, in the early stages of labour.”
William, who spent the weekend at Kensington Palace, travelled without a police escort, their spokesman said.
He added: “Things are progressing as normal.”
Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge has been admitted to St. Maryâ??s Hospital, Paddington, London in the early stages of labour.
— Clarence House (@ClarenceHouse) July 22, 2013
The Duchess travelled by car from Kensington Palace to the Lindo Wing at St. Maryâ??s Hospital with The Duke of Cambridge.
— Clarence House (@ClarenceHouse) July 22, 2013
Kate is being tended by a top medical team led by the Queen’s former gynaecologist Marcus Setchell, who delivered the Countess of Wessex’s two children.
The Duchess of Cambridge is intending to have a natural birth and does not know whether she is going to have a boy or girl.
The news that what had been dubbed “the Great Kate Wait” was finally over was announced in a brief statement at 7.30am after rumours she had been spotted began circulating.
The world’s media have been camped outside St Mary’s in Paddington for days in anticipation of the birth.
British news outlets pushed political debate, showbiz revelations and sporting results straight down the schedules and their foreign counterparts swiftly followed suit.
Newspaper websites from France to Australia brought the royal birth to the top of their home pages, while The Washington Post offered readers an online “royal baby name generator”.
Photographers were poised with cameras at the ready to capture the first images of the infant while broadcasters aired live coverage from outside the the Lindo Wing.
The announcement that the duchess has gone into labour caused a flurry of activity on social media.
The topic was trending on Twitter and accounted for seven of the top 10 trending topics within a couple of hours.
Among the dozens of broadcasters, photographers and journalists were royal fans who had a ringside view of events.
Royal fan Terry Hutt, 78, from Cambridge, has been camped outside St Mary’s Hospital for 12 days.
The former soldier, who served with the Royal Ordnance Corps, is sleeping on a bench across the road from the Lindo Wing.
“I have the best royal bed in town,” he said.
“I have lost my voice with all the excitement.
“At night we’re watching the hospital in two-hour stints, like the Army.
“The health of the baby, and Kate, is the only important element.”
Carly Gargett, 31, an event manager from Sydney, Australia, who lives in London, visited the hospital on her way to work.
She said: “I don’t think I’ll be doing a lot of work today, I have the royal baby cam live feed to my phone, I am so excited.
“And Kate is handling it all in such style as always – it can’t be easy with the eyes of the world on her.”
Betting on the name of the royal baby, which will be third-in-line to the throne, has produced one favourite with a number of bookies – Alexandra.
Many punters believe William and Kate will have a girl and have put their money on the name.
Other monikers that have attracted royal fans include Charlotte, Diana, Elizabeth and Victoria, with George and James picked by those who think the new baby will be a boy.
William will take paternity leave from his job as an RAF search and rescue helicopter pilot.
But it is not known how long the Duchess will take off from her royal duties to care for her first child.
The new royal baby will be the Queen’s third great-grandchild and is destined to be crowned monarch.
It will be the 43rd sovereign since William the Conqueror if, as expected, it follows reigns by Charles and William.
The duke is reported to want a daughter while the duchess is hoping for a son.
When Kate met Guardsman Lee Wheeler, 29, during a a St Patrick’s Day parade in Aldershot, Hampshire, she apparently told him she did not know the sex of her baby.
The soldier said: “I asked her ‘Do you know if it’s a girl or boy?’, and she said ‘Not yet’.
“She said ‘I’d like to have a boy and William would like a girl’. That’s always the way.”
Recent changes to the rules of succession mean if a girl is born she will not be leapfrogged by a younger brother at a later date.
The sex of an infant in direct line to the throne no longer determines whether he or she wears the crown.
With the arrival of a royal baby comes the age-old custom of placing a proclamation of royal birth behind the iron railings of Buckingham Palace.
Even in the fast Twitter-paced age, Palace aides have said the tradition will be adhered to for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s first born.
The notice will begin its journey at the Lindo wing of St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington, London, where Kate’s baby is being delivered.
The brief bulletin, on headed Palace notepaper, confirms the sex of the baby but usually gives little else away other than that the baby has been “safely delivered” and perhaps the weight.
It used to be hand-written but is now mostly typed and will be signed by the Queen’s gynaecologist Marcus Setchell, who is leading the medical team looking after the Duchess.
The document will be completed soon after the birth and, if events happen in daylight hours, will be taken under police escort through the streets of London to the palace.
Placed in a foolscap-sized dark wooden frame, it will be set on an ornate easel behind the railings, just to the side of the front gates of the Queen’s London home for members of the public to read.
But the notice will not be put in place until the monarch and senior members of the Royal Family have been told of the new addition to their family.