Kate, the wife of Britain’s Prince William, was admitted to hospital in London on Monday in the early stages of labour, Kensington Palace announced.
The Duchess of Cambridge is expecting her third child, after Prince George and Princess Charlotte. The baby will be fifth in line to the British throne.
The 36-year-old was admitted to the private Lindo Wing of St. Mary’s Hospital in central London, where George, four, and two-year-old Charlotte were born.
William has gone with her, according to the statement from their Kensington Palace home. The hospital is around a mile (less than two kilometres) from the palace.
Royal fanatics have been camped outside the hospital wing for several days in anticipation.
“We’re going to celebrate with fish and chips!” said John Loughrey, who was wearing a Union Jack hat and clutching a plastic doll with a crown.
Maria Scott, 46, a housewife from Newcastle in northeast England, has been in place for 15 days.
“It’s really important to show support because they need to know how much they are loved by the people,” she said.
“We’re very proud of our monarchy.”
Dressed head to toe in a British flag suit and hat, Terry Hutt said: “All I want to see is a healthy baby.”
The 82-year-old royal event camp-out veteran said it wasn’t hard spending a fortnight sleeping on the pavement.
“I’m an old soldier,” he explained.
– Name speculation –
“Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge was admitted to St. Mary’s Hospital, Paddington, London earlier this morning in the early stages of labour,” the statement said.
“The Duchess travelled by car from Kensington Palace to the Lindo Wing at St. Mary’s Hospital with The Duke of Cambridge.”
The baby will be the sixth great-grandchild for Queen Elizabeth II, who turned 92 on Saturday, and her husband Prince Philip.
It will hold the title of prince or princess after Queen Elizabeth changed the rules in 2012 to ensure that all of William’s children would be entitled to the style, not just his eldest son.
As with their two previous children, the royal couple do not know whether the baby is a boy or a girl.
Bookmakers have Mary, Alice, Victoria, Alexandra and Maria as the favourite girls’ names, with Arthur, Albert, Frederick, James and Philip the most popular boys’ names.
If the baby is a boy, it will no longer overtake Charlotte in the line of succession due to new laws agreed across the 16 Commonwealth realms where Queen Elizabeth is the head of state, including Canada, Australia and Jamaica.
Under the law, designed to end male primogeniture for William’s children, boys born after October 28, 2011 could not overtake their elder sisters.
A night at the Lindo Wing costs £7,500 ($10,500, 8,550 euros), including a delivery package and two-room suite, excluding consultants’ fees.
Kate is being cared for by consultant obstetrician Guy Thorpe-Beeston, who is the surgeon-gynaecologist to the royal household, and consultant gynaecologist Alan Farthing, the Queen’s surgeon-gynaecologist — part of the trusted team who delivered George and Charlotte.
The duchess suffered severe morning sickness during all three pregnancies.
– Gun salutes planned –
William, who is destined to become king after his father Prince Charles, and Kate met at St. Andrews University in Scotland.
They tied the knot at Westminster Abbey in London on April 29, 2011, in a ceremony watched by up to two billion people worldwide. The marriage helped breathe new life into Britain’s monarchy after years of crisis.
The Sun newspaper reported Sunday that Kate’s sister Pippa Middleton, 34, is pregnant with her first child.
Kate’s maid of honour famously stole the show at her and William’s wedding with a figure-hugging dress.
The birth will be announced in both traditional and modern fashion.
A proclamation will be placed on a golden easel in the forecourt of Buckingham Palace. Kensington Palace will also release the news on its Twitter feed.
The birth will be celebrated with a 41-gun salute in London’s Green Park Hyde Park — the standard 21 rounds with an extra 20 because they are royal parks.
The Tower of London will fire 62 rounds: 21, plus 20 because it is a royal palace, and a further 21 to show the City of London’s loyalty to the sovereign.