Duchess of Cambridge admitted to London's St. Mary's Hospital in early stages of labor
The long wait for the royal baby is coming to an end.
With her husband, Prince William, at her side, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, 31, was admitted to a London hospital at 6 a.m. local time (1 a.m. ET) Monday in the early stages of labor.
''Things are progressing as normal," a spokesperson for Kensington Palace told NBC News shortly after Duchess Kate was admitted.
According to the BBC, photographers reported seeing royal vehicles at a back entrance to St. Mary's Hospital at about 6 a.m. local time. About 90 minutes later, royal officials released a statement saying: “The duchess traveled by car from Kensington Palace to the Lindo Wing at St. Mary’s Hospital with the Duke of Cambridge.” BBC News reported that the royal couple did not have a police escort en route to the hospital.
The Lindo Wing is where Princess Diana gave birth to Prince William in 1982 and to his brother, Prince Harry, in 1984. The birth will be overseen by a medical team that includes Marcus Setchell, 69, the Queen's former gynecologist, and her current gynecologist, Alan Farthing. According to British newspaper The Guardian, Prince William and Duchess Kate asked Setchell to delay his retirement until the baby was born.
Duchess Kate will also be assisted by several midwives and a senior nursing staff, according to Camilla Tominey, royal editor of the London Express and an NBC News royal contributor.
Queen Elizabeth is at Windsor Castle. There has been no announced change to her plan to leave Friday for a vacation at Balmoral Castle, Scotland. There were also no plans for Duchess Kate's mother and sister to join her, Tominey said on NBC early Monday. "Buckingham Palace denied rumors that they were going to be in the delivery room with Kate. She very much wants just her husband to be there."
The infant will be third in line to the British throne, after the child’s father and grandfather, Prince Charles.
Once the baby is born, the news will be shared with Queen Elizabeth, Prime Minister David Cameron, and the Middleton family before it becomes public.
A birth announcement written on official Buckingham Palace letterhead will then be driven to the palace, where it will be placed on the same easel used to announce Prince William’s birth 31 years ago. In addition, the UK Ministry of Defence will mark the royal baby's birth with two gun salutes – a traditional sign of respect – at London's Green Park and on Tower Wharf at the Tower of London.
Neither the duke nor duchess claimed to have known the baby’s gender before Kate went into labor, palace officials have said. Earlier this year, Queen Elizabeth took steps to update a century-old rule to make it easier to grant the child the title “princess” if she is a girl. Otherwise, a daughter would have only been allowed to receive the title, “lady.”
If the baby is a girl, she will become only the sixth woman to be crowned Queen in her own right in over 1500 years of the British monarchy.
In England, thousands of Britons placed wagers on any possible detail related to the baby in the past several weeks. Interest around the world also surged as Kate drew closer to her mid-July due date, with many countries making arrangements to publicly celebrate the baby's birth.
In addition to keeping the world anxiously awaiting, the royal baby watch also kept the monarchy restless.
“I hope it arrives soon because I’m going on holiday,” Queen Elizabeth joked during a July 17 visit with schoolchildren.
Just days earlier while touring a children’s hospice, Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, also spoke about her hopes that the future king or queen would arrive soon.
“We’re all waiting at the end of the telephone,” she told the crowd.
Meanwhile, Camilla’s husband expressed his eagerness about becoming a first-time grandfather.
During his annual tour of Wales, a visibly excited Prince Charles took tips from a ladies' group and spoke about his plans for being an involved grandparent.
"The great thing is to encourage them. Show them things to take their interest. My grandmother did that, she was wonderful,” he said.
In London, the horde of media camped outside of St. Mary’s Hospital grew exponentially as the royal baby watch dragged beyond the middle of the month. Despite the heat wave that blanketed the city, journalists dutifully staked out spots that would give them the best view of the Duchess of Cambridge once she finally went into labor.