Champagne bottles popped and shouts of "Hip! Hip! Hooray!" erupted at Buckingham Palace on Monday as Britain welcomed the birth of the first child for Prince William and wife Kate. The boy 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 was born three decades ago.
Despite the endless speculation in the media, the royal family managed to keep the birth a remarkably private affair in the end.
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. 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," it said. William also issued a brief statement, saying, "We could not be happier."
Officials said William, who was at his wife's side during the birth, also would 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 newscasts.
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 in labor until more than an hour later.
As the world media gathered outside, the baby's birth went unannounced for nearly four hours, allowing the royal couple the private time they needed to act like a regular family.
The 31-year-old William was able to tell his father, Prince Charles, and grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, about the birth and enjoy his wife's company without having to cope with the overwhelming media and public desire for information.
London's landmarks, including the London Eye, lit up in the national colors of red, white and blue, and the city had a party atmosphere unmatched since last summer's Olympics.
A large crowd rushed against the palace fences to catch a glimpse of an ornate, gilded easel displaying a small bulletin formally announcing the news.
"It's a crazy atmosphere. Everyone is getting very excited," said Andrew Aitchison.
William and Kate's son is third in line to the throne behind Charles and William.
The baby's gender had been of particular interest because the prospect of Kate's pregnancy had prompted a change in laws of succession to ensure that a daughter would not be passed over for the crown by a younger brother.
The royal couple and their newborn are expected to spend much of their time in the coming years in renovated quarters at Kensington Palace, where William and brother Harry also spent much of their childhood.
Royal officials say Kate and William will try to give their child as normal an upbringing as possible, a challenging goal in an age when the British royals are treated as major world celebrities.