LONDON - It's a boy!
The Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William's wife Kate Middleton, gave birth to an 8-pound 6-ounce baby boy Monday afternoon.
The announcement of the infant's birth was put in a leather binder and driven from St. Mary's Hospital to Buckingham Palace, where it was placed on an easel for the public to see.
The announcement read, "Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge was safely delivered of a son at 4:24 p.m. today. Her Royal Highness and her child are both doing well."
The mother and child will remain in the hospital overnight.
It is a historic moment for the British monarchy -- the couple's first child will become third in line for the British throne, after Prince Charles and William, and should eventually become king.
Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, released a statement, saying, "Both my wife and I are overjoyed at the arrival of my first grandchild. It is an incredibly special moment for William and Catherine and we are so thrilled for them on the birth of their baby boy. Grandparenthood is a unique moment in anyone’s life, as countless kind people have told me in recent months, so I am enormously proud and happy to be a grandfather for the first time and we are eagerly looking forward to seeing the baby in the near future."
William and Kate entered St. Mary's Hospital in central London through a side door early Monday morning, avoiding the world's media. Palace officials confirmed her arrival about 90 minutes later.
The royal birth recalled that of the baby's father, William, in 1982, at the same central London hospital. Many remember the moment when he was carried out in his mother Princess Diana's arms with proud father Prince Charles at their side.
No one can tell what political and personal changes the intervening years will bring, but the baby can be expected to become the head of state of 16 countries, including Britain, Australia and Canada, and possibly the head of the Commonwealth, which covers 54 nations.
The child will also eventually become Supreme Governor of the Church of England.
The baby represents a living link to Britain's imperial history -- the infant is the great-great-great-great-great-grandson of Queen Victoria, who ruled at the peak of British power.
Many Britons had hoped that William and Kate would start a family shortly after their gala 2011 wedding, which drew a global television audience in the hundreds of millions.
The couple waited, however, until William was nearly finished with his military work as a search and rescue helicopter pilot based at an air base in a remote island off the coast of Wales.
That allowed Kate to ease into royal life, and to become more comfortable in the spotlight, before becoming a parent. It also allowed her to play a supporting role during Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee celebrations last summer.
The first months of her pregnancy were not easy, and she was hospitalized in early December with acute morning sickness that left her weak and dehydrated.
She seemed to recover her stamina fairly quickly and made a series of public appearances until the final weeks before giving birth, drawing praise for her poise and good cheer.
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 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 -- which may be challenging in an age when the British royals are treated as major world celebrities.