LONDON: Prince William, his wife Kate and their new son spent their first night together on Monday after it was earlier announced that Britain had a new future king.
Cheering crowds rushed towards the gates of Buckingham Palace as it was announced that the Duchess of Cambridge had produced a healthy male heir weighing 8 lbs 6oz (3.8 kilos).
The as-yet unnamed baby is third in line to the throne and in the direct line of succession after Queen Elizabeth II’s eldest son and heir Prince Charles, and then his eldest son William.
“We could not be happier,” William, the son of Charles and the late Princess Diana, said in a brief statement.
US President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle led international tributes to the “joyous occasion” while Canada was the first to hail the birth among the 15 overseas realms to which the baby will be heir.
The former Kate Middleton, 31, spent ten hours in labor after she and William arrived around dawn at the private Lindo wing of London’s Saint Mary’s Hospital, Paddington, in central London.
It was in the same hospital wing that the late Princess Diana gave birth to William in 1982.
Royal aides later placed a formal bulletin on a gold easel in the forecourt of Buckingham Palace which said that both Kate and her son were “doing well”.
Royal doctor Marcus Setchell added: “Wonderful baby. Beautiful baby”.
The queen, 87, said she was “delighted” while Prince Charles said he was overjoyed.
British landmarks including the London Eye and BT Tower were lit in red white and blue to celebrate the baby’s birth while cannon fire will ring out across the capital on Tuesday.
Newspapers splashed the arrival over their front pages, with many saying simply: “It’s a boy.”
The arrival of a royal baby and a new generation for the British monarchy had been hotly anticipated ever since the couple married in 2011 after a decade-long romance.
The palace said the boy’s name would be revealed later, but he will be known as Prince of Cambridge.
William, also 31, has been on annual leave and will take two weeks’ paternity leave from his job as a Royal Air Force search and rescue pilot.
Prince Charles said that he and his second wife Camilla were “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,” the 64-year-old heir to the throne said in a statement.
“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.”
The fact that it is a boy averted the need to rush through new succession laws across the 16 Commonwealth realms, which would mean that a royal princess could no longer be overtaken by any future younger brothers.
The new arrival is Queen Elizabeth’s third great-grandchild.
The Obamas said they wished William and Kate “all the happiness and blessings parenthood brings”, adding: “The child enters the world at a time of promise and opportunity for our two nations.”
The British Embassy in Manila also welcomed the “wonderful news.”
“The arrival of any baby is, of course, wonderful news, particularly for the parents. But a Royal baby has that extra bit of sparkle and we are delighted by the birth of Prince/Princess X which is great for both the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and for Britain”,” a statement said Trevor Lewis, Charge d’affaires of the Embassy
He said the Middletons were also informed of the birth of their first grandson and “are delighted with the news.”
The marriage of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge has been likened to a true-to-life fairtytale, analysts said, with the birth of their first son completing the “happily ever after” story.