LONDON (AP) — A princess is born.
Prince William’s wife, the Duchess of Cambridge, “was safely delivered of a daughter” Saturday morning, less than three hours after checking into St. Mary’s Hospital in London, royal officials said.
The newborn’s name wasn’t immediately announced. When her brother, Prince George, was born in 2013, royal officials waited two days before announcing his name.
Britons have for weeks been betting that it would be a princess and all the top bets for the baby’s name have been for girls. Alice and Charlotte are the clear favorites, followed by Elizabeth, Victoria and Diana — all names with strong connections to royal tradition.
Kensington Palace said the baby — the couple’s second child — was born at 8:34 a.m. London time (0734 GMT, 2:34 a.m. EDT) and weighed 8 pounds 3 ounces (3.7 kilograms).
The princess is fourth in line to the throne and the fifth great-grandchild of Queen Elizabeth II. A royal statement said senior royals “are delighted with the news.” The queen marked the occasion by wearing a pink ensemble while carrying out an official engagement in Richmond, North Yorkshire, 250 miles (400 kilometers) north of London.
Die-hard royal fans who had been camping for days outside the hospital danced with delight, chanting “Princess! Princess!” and “Hip, hip, hooray!” A town crier in elaborate costume — with no connection to the royal family — shouted out the news at the hospital’s door, clanging his bell to welcome the new royal.
“May our princess be long-lived, happy and glorious,” said Tony Appleton, reading from a scroll in a booming voice.
Later, hundreds of tourists and well-wishers crowded outside the gates of Buckingham Palace, cheering and screaming as officials placed a traditional birth announcement on a golden easel.
Kate, 33, and her infant were doing well, and Prince William was present for the birth, officials said. Kate, who wed William in April 2011, gave birth to Prince George at the same hospital in July 2013. William came out of the hospital in the afternoon, waving to reporters and saying he was “very happy” before driving off to see about George.
Anticipation for the occasion had been building for weeks. Kate had told a well-wisher earlier this year that the child was due in the second two weeks of April, kicking off what the tabloid press called “the Great Kate Wait.” The world’s media had set up their positions outside the hospital for days, but were still caught slightly off guard by the speed with which officials announced the birth.
“I’m top of the world,” said royal camper Terry Hutt, 80, decked out in patriotic Union Jack gear. He said he did not expect the birth to happen as soon as it did, but said: “Babies come when they’re ready.”
“If Diana was here, she’d be very, very proud,” he added, referring to the late Princess Diana, William’s mother.
Britain’s political leaders — facing a hard-fought general election in just five days — rushed to congratulate the couple on the new addition.
Prince Charles had signaled — twice — that he was hoping for a granddaughter, which led some to speculate that he had inside information, even though the royal couple said throughout Kate’s pregnancy that they did not know the child’s gender.
The monarchy has not welcomed a princess born this high up the line of succession since Princess Anne, the queen’s second child, was born in 1950. Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, the daughters of Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson, were fifth and sixth in line at the time of their birth.
At 21 months, George is third in line to the throne, after his grandfather Prince Charles and William. The newborn becomes the fourth in line, bumping Uncle Harry to fifth place.
Thanks to a recent change in law, the new princess will hold her place in the line of succession that for centuries had put boys ahead of their sisters. The change means that no younger brother will be able to overtake the newborn princess in the order of preference to inherit the throne.
Nonetheless, the princess should not have to worry about one day becoming queen. Royal succession rules dictate that the throne always passes to the eldest child, and younger siblings only get to step up to the job in rare circumstances — in the cases of an illness, death, or abdication.
The public is likely to get its first view of the newborn when Kate and William leave the hospital, but no time has been set for that yet.
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