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Duchess of Cambridge gives birth to healthy baby boy

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge announced the birth of their healthy baby boy on Monday, sparking a global media frenzy and celebrations across the UK. The baby is third in line to the British throne.

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The Duchess of Cambridge, formerly known as Kate Middleton, gave birth to a baby boy on Mondayin the private Lindo Wing of St Mary’s Hospital in London. The baby weighed a healthy 8lb and 6oz. His name has yet to be announced.

"We could not be happier," said Prince William in a brief statement. 

William's father, Charles, and his wife, Camilla, spoke of their joy and pride in becoming grandparents for the first time.

"It is an incredibly special moment for William and Catherine and we are so thrilled for them on the birth of their baby boy,'' Prince Charles said.

“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.''

Cries of joy erupted from the waiting crowd amassed near Buckingham Palace as the news came through, and hundreds of onlookers - some of whom had camped outside for hours - crushed against the palace's fences to catch a glimpse of the bulletin formally announcing the birth placed outside the palace's forecourt.

Britain has been enjoying a royal "baby-craze” since the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge announced they were expecting their first child, who will be third in line to the throne, in December last year.

The duchess stopped official duties last month while Prince William, a helicopter search-and-rescue pilot and grandson of Queen Elizabeth II, waited on standby – with a helicopter parked on the lawn of his rented cottage – at his air force base in north Wales.

Joe Little, managing editor of Majesty Magazine, said the duke and duchess were a private couple and, while aware of the massive global interest, would nonetheless try to limit public exposure.

“Privacy is key for Prince William as he saw the way his mother, Princess Diana, suffered at the hands of the paparazzi, and he wants to make sure this does not happen to his wife or his own children,” Little told Reuters.

Since their marriage in 2011, the couple have been wooing Royalists around the world with their relaxed and clean image.

31-year-old Catherine, whose hair and clothing is a popular topic in the UK press, is said to have breathed new life into the monarchy, drawing comparisons with William's late mother Princess Diana.

Kate is officially the first “commoner” to marry a future king since 1660, and is suggested by some to have helped bring the royals closer to ordinary Britons.

Costly birth

The baby was delivered in the same wing of St. Mary’s Hospital where Prince William was born 31 years ago. Princess Diana, who died in a car crash in 1997, also gave birth to Prince Harry there.

The baby was delivered by the Queen’s former gynaecologist, Marcus Setchell, in the private wing where a normal delivery costs £4,965 ($7,400) and each extra night around 1,000 pounds.

Photographers were camped outside the hospital days before the due date in order to get a front row spot when the royal couple and baby emerge from the hospital. One of them, Mark Stewart, described the event to Reuters as “world history”.

“Globally there is huge interest in the royal baby, particularly in America, and I wanted to get a front row seat to world history,” said Stewart, whose ladder was chained in place ahead of the event.

With the popularity for royal family riding high in Britain and overseas after the royal wedding and last year’s Diamond Jubilee celebrating Queen Elizabeth’s 60 year reign, retailers have been cashing in on latest royal hype.

Stores stocked “Born to Rule” sleepwear, palace shops sold sleepsuits modelled on a guardsman’s outfit, and Prince Charles sold baby shoes from his country estate. Celebrity jewellery designer Theo Fennell created the most lavish baby gift – a bejewelled, 18ct white gold bracelet with a nappy cream holding charm for £10,000.

Thelittle boyis third in line to the throne, pushing Prince Harry into the fourth place in the royal list, after the government changed the rules of succession. Previously male heirs took precedence over females.

Royal officials have said the baby will be known by its given name and will have the title His Royal Highness Prince of Cambridge.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

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