July 26, 2013


Royal Baby: Duchess of Cambridge Gives Birth to a Son 


LONDON—Britain's likely future king—and a certified instant celebrity—arrived here on Monday when the Duchess of Cambridge, better known as the former Kate Middleton, gave birth to a boy.
The birth culminates a royal-baby frenzy that began with the announcement of the pregnancy last year by the Duchess and her husband, Prince William, both 31 years old and the standard-bearers for a younger generation of British royals.
The new arrival immediately changes the line of succession to the British throne, which has been occupied by the new arrival's 87-year-old great-grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, for six decades.
As the first child of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge the new royal begins life third in line to the throne—behind only Prince William, who is second in line, and his father, Prince Charles, who is first. 
The pregnancy has drawn massive global interest focused on everything from the size of the duchess's baby bump—meticulously chronicled by Britain's paparazzi—to the mother-to-be's fashion choices.
The fevered anticipation intensified as the birth neared; in recent days, media crews camped outside the London hospital where the baby was expected to be delivered.
The most intense speculation focused on the baby's sex—which the parents chose not to learn—and possible names, on which betting parlors have been taking wagers.
The favorite on Monday evening was at betting parlor Paddy Power PLS.DB -1.99% PLC was Alexandra, at 11-to-4, followed by George at 6-to1.
Some questions were answered on Monday, when the royal family announced the couple had greeted an 8 lb., 6 oz. boy. No name was announced, but the new arrival will be formally known as His Royal Highness the Prince of Cambridge.
The Duchess chose to have her baby at central London's St. Mary's Hospital, where Princess Diana gave birth to Prince William and his brother, Prince Harry.
She had arrived there, in the early stages of labor, shortly before 6 a.m. on Monday.
The hubbub around the royal baby turned St. Mary's into London's newest tourist attraction, as sightseers joined the multiplying media pack on what weather forecasters said was the hottest day of the year in London.
"We are here in London for fun, visiting friends, going to a wedding and we were training it out of Paddington this morning, which is just around the corner, said Allison Witt, a tourist from Texas. "So we thought we'd get a few pictures and witness it firsthand."
Some of the gawkers have been at the site for days, camped out alongside the reporters.
Maria Scott, who has been staying in a tent near the hospital with her 13-year-old daughter since Saturday, said the atmosphere Monday morning was "electric" when word arrived that the Duchess was in labor.
Security at the hospital increased in recent days as the media pack grew. Hospital officials on Monday beseeched the throng to keep a pathway clear for nonroyal patients to enter the hospital, and some workers grumbled about the difficulty of getting to their jobs.
In the past, the line of succession would have been different for a royal baby girl. Previously, any daughter born to the couple wouldn't have enjoyed an equal right to inherit the British throne. The crown would have passed to the eldest son, only going to a daughter if there were no boys.
But under a new law, which applies to any baby born after October 2011, the first-born child is the heir apparent regardless of gender.
The huge attention focused on the photogenic Duke and Duchess and their new child reflects a transition to a younger generation of Britain's royal family. Still, it will likely be quite a while before the new addition to the family takes up the crown.
Sixty-four-year-old Prince Charles has waited decades for a chance to be king, parked in line behind his mother and her historic 61-year reign, which has weathered sweeping social transformation in the U.K., big swings in the family's popularity and the end of Britain's global empire.
Unlike in the Netherlands, where 75-year-old Queen Beatrix recently abdicated in favor of her son, there has been no suggestion that the British monarch will step down.
But the Queen has recently begun scaling back her vigorous public duties and limiting her long-haul travel, which leaves a potentially greater role for her son and grandchildren.
The royal family is currently enjoying a high degree of public support, boosted by the feel-good factor of the Duke and Duchess's wedding in 2011 and the arrival of their first child.
The Queen had a 90% approval rating around the time of her Diamond Jubilee celebrations in June 2012, according to a survey by pollsters Ipsos Mori. That marked the highest levels of satisfaction with the monarch since 1992, when Ipsos Mori started asking the question.
The Jubilee reminded people that the Queen has dedicated her life to public service, said Vernon Bogdanor, a leading expert on the British constitution and a research professor at Kings College London.
"Not that she hasn't put a foot wrong,…but she reflects what [British] people would like to be: good humored, good natured, doing what she has to do without complaint." 

The public hasn't always been so positive about the royal family.
The House of Windsor's brand suffered damage in the late 1990s following the bitter divorce of Prince Charles and Diana Spencer and the subsequent car crash that killed the Princess of Wales. The couple's public bickering had revealed the royal family's inner turmoil.
And, the Queen's seemingly chilly initial response to Diana's death, along with the scandal-ridden divorce of another son, Prince Andrew, from Sarah Ferguson, compounded the problems.
But royals have managed to largely recover, thanks to a carefully crafted public-relations plan, some judicious trims to its spending and the help of the popular Duke and Duchess, who has been frequently photographed throughout her pregnancy sporting an array of elegant outfits spanning high-street retailers and designer outlets.
But the family continues to find itself embroiled in scandal from time to time. And, it still finds itself the subject of seedier tabloid interest, from Prince Harry's naked romp in Las Vegas to the publication of topless photos of the duchess. 
One area that continues to rankle the public is cost. Amid national austerity, the royals must balance the demands for frugality from the British taxpayer while also maintaining the pomp and ceremony expected of a 300-year old dynasty, which also serves as a tourism attraction for the U.K. The royal household's income comes mainly from a government grant, which was £33.3 million ($50.8 million) for 2012-13.
The new prince is expected to be christened; as future king, he would be the head of the Church of England.
There is a long tradition of using the royal christening gown, the Lily Font—which is a 19th century silver vessel—and consecrated water from the Jordan River. While royal christening venues can vary, Prince William was christened in the Music Room at Buckingham Palace by the Archbishop of Canterbury.



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