The world celebrates Britain’s new arrival
He’s here! With the world watching, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, also known as Kate, gave birth to a bouncing baby boy on Monday.
The birth of the royal baby topped international news Monday and is expected to cause big celebrations throughout Britain. The media had been eagerly awaiting the baby’s arrival for the past month as Kate’s rumored due date of mid-July approached.
Already, the newest royal has a clear path to power. As the first child of Prince William and Kate, the baby is third in line to the throne. Under Britain’s monarch system, the only two people ahead of the baby are his father William and grandfather, Prince Charles. William’s brother, Prince Harry, will be bumped down to fourth in line.
Now that the royal baby is here, he will no doubt continue to draw international attention. The birth has already sparked big sales of baby-related merchandise at stores in London and throughout Britain. Stores in London have been selling clothes, plates, and other products related to the royal birth, just as they did for William and Kate’s wedding in 2011.
A Day of Excitement
Royal officials announced early Monday morning that Kate was in labor, and traveled to St. Mary’s hospital in central London just before 6 a.m. The duchess gave birth in the private Lindo Wing of the hospital, where Princess Diana also gave birth to William and Harry.
Thousands of well-wishers lined the streets near the hospital and around Buckingham Palace, which is the official workplace of the British monarch system. TIME took to the streets outside of St. Mary’s Hospital and Buckingham Palace to ask the well-wishers what made them so excited about this royal birth. Many people, like 47-year-old Shaun Melass, a real-estate broker from Pretoria, South Africa, on vacation in London, said part of the thrill came from being a part of a historical event and all the hoopla that went with it. “I love the pomp and the ceremony,” he said. Peter Davenport, 82, from Richmond, southwest London, was also outside Buckingham Palace on Monday, waiting for news of the birth. “It is all tied back to tradition—it goes back for generations,” he said.
The birth was announced with a mix of tradition and social media. The public first heard the news when a royal aide emerges from the hospital with a signed notice. The notice was posted on an easel in public view in front of Buckingham Palace.
At the same time as the bulletin was posted, there was an official announcement on Twitter and the media was formally notified. The document gave the baby's gender, weight, and time of birth. The boy was born at 4:24 p.m. and weighed 8 lbs. 6 oz.
There was a great deal of speculation about the baby’s gender. The royal couple had revealed few details before the birth, preferring to keep Kate’s pregnancy as private as possible.
Royal watchers were particularly interested in the baby’s gender because if the baby had been a girl, this would have been the first time she could have inherited the throne without being nudged aside in favor of a younger brother. Until 2011, rules dating back centuries stated that the crown passed to the oldest son and could only go to a daughter when there were no sons.
However, it could be a while still before the royal couple announces the new baby’s name. When William was born, a week passed before his name was announced. Charles's name remained a mystery for an entire month. Until then, he will be known officially as His Royal Highness, Prince of Cambridge.
A Royal Tradition
England is one of the few countries in the world that still has a monarch system. The Kings and Queens of England were once powerful, ruling over a vast empire. Today, the British monarch’s powers are more limited.
In the past, the royal children were kept apart from their peers and were often raised by governesses. Many royal children attended boarding schools far away from home. Prince Charles went to boarding school at age 8. Kate has said she does not want a nanny to raise her child, but the media has questioned whether that will be possible with all of the new mother’s royal responsibilities.