LONDON, UK — The royal baby is here. And it’s a boy!
“Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge was safely delivered of a son at 4.24pm,” tweeted Clarence House at 8:37 p.m.
Ten minutes later, the same statement was placed on a golden easel in the forecourt of Buckingham Palace, officially announcing the birth of a person who presumably will grow up to be the 43rd British monarch since William the Conqueror.
The new baby — whose name hasn’t yet been released publicly — will be third in line to the British throne after the current monarch Queen Elizabeth II, his grandfather Prince Charles and father Prince William.
The announcement of the birth ends weeks of fevered media-led speculation over when the royal infant would make its debut.
On Monday afternoon, a line of photographers, reporters and cameramen 100 yards long stretched in front of the Lindo Wing of St. Mary’s Hospital in London where — unbeknownst to them — the baby had already been born.
The world’s media has been keeping a weeks-long vigil in front of the Lindo Wing through some of the hottest temperatures London has seen in years. Monday was the hottest day in the UK since 2006, with temperatures in London topping 91 degrees.
A piece of posterboard taped to a concrete pillar titled “Royal Baby Sweepstakes — Press only” charted the 5-pound media pool run by NBC News on the baby’s birthdate.
“The midwives decision is final!” it read. “Guaranteed to be born on a day ending in a ‘Y’!”
Along with a retinue of reporters giving on-camera reports, shouting into their cell phones and complaining to colleagues in a panoply of languages, the crowd also contained a few die-hard royal fans.
“Congratulations Prince William and Catherine,” read the sign of a man in a Union Jack hat and tank top. “Hip hip hooray!”
The palace announced this morning that Catherine Middleton had been admitted to the hospital at 6 a.m. Monday morning, entering through a back door to escape the hordes of photographers.
It began a long day, both for those eager for news of the royal birth and for those utterly sick of it.
The Guardian newspaper’s website featured a button on its homepage so that readers could click “monarchist” to see the page with royal baby headlines or “republican” for a page scrubbed free of baby mentions.
The baby boy weighed 8 pounds 6 ounces, and Prince William was present for the birth, said Clarence House, the official residence of Prince Charles and his two sons.
“The Queen, The Duke of Edinburgh, The Prince of Wales, The Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Harry & families have been told and are delighted,” Clarence House tweeted.
“Her Royal Highness and her child are both doing well and will remain in hospital overnight.”
In a separate statement, Prince Charles said, "It is an incredibly special moment for William and Catherine and we are so thrilled for them on the birth of their baby boy."
The BBC's royal correspondent tweeted:
British Prime Minister David Cameron congratulated the Duke and Duchess, calling the event "an important moment in the life of our nation."
"I'm sure that right across the country, and indeed right across the Commonwealth, people will be celebrating and wishing the royal couple well," he said.
It is the first time in 120 years since three heirs to the throne have been alive at the same time, the BBC reported.
The baby’s birth was significant for at least one other member of the royal family — Prince Harry, who now moves down to fourth in line for the throne, after his nephew.
US President Barack Obama congratulated the royal couple in a statement issued late Monday, praising their child as one born "at a time of promise and opportunity" for America and Britain and wishing them "all the happiness and blessings parenthood brings," reported the Associated Press.