Kate, the duchess of Cambridge, is in "the early
stages of labour" and was admitted Monday morning to hospital in
central London, Kensington Palace said, bringing what bored
journalists have dubbed the "Great Kate Wait" almost to an end.
The duchess, 31, was accompanied in the car by her husband, Prince William, to the private Lindo wing of St Mary's Hospital, the palace said.
Hundreds of reporters, cameramen and photographers have been camped outside the hospital since the beginning of the month.
The late princess Diana gave birth to both William and his brother, Prince Harry, in the same hospital.
The child is the first for the couple, who married in April 2011, and would be the third in line to the throne after Prince Charles, the baby's grandfather, and the duke of Cambridge.
Kate was intending to have a natural birth and was being attended to by a top medical team, including Queen Elizabeth II's former gynaecologist Marcus Setchell.
The couple do not know the sex of the baby, according to the palace, although most punters have put their money on a princess.
After recent changes in the succession laws, a girl would be the first to automatically succeed to the throne even if she later gets a younger brother.
Bookmakers reported the name Alexandra as a clear favourite for a girl while George and James are among those favoured for a boy.
Although the baby's birth would also be announced via the more modern press release, the palace is keen to stick to tradition.
When the baby is born, a notice signed by Setchell and other medics is to be taken under police escort to Buckingham Palace and placed on an easel just inside the gates for the public to see.
However, the public is likely to be kept waiting for news of the baby's name. William's parents took a week to announce his while Charles' name was not known for a month.
"Prince William can choose any name he likes, but I suspect the names will be fairly traditional because this is going to be a future king or queen," royal biographer Hugo Vickers said.
The 31-year-old duke was expected to take two weeks paternity leave from his job as an air force search and rescue pilot in Anglesey, North Wales, while it is not known how much time Kate would take off from her royal duties.
The baby would be the queen's third great-grandchild.
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