Duchess Taken to Hospital for Birth of Heir to Throne

Prince William’s wife, Kate, was admitted to a hospital in London to give birth to the couple’s first child, who will become third in line to the British throne.

The Duchess of Cambridge was “admitted this morning in the early stages of labor,” William’s and Kate’s office said in an e-mailed statement, using the title by which she is formally known. No further updates will be given until the baby arrives, their office has said.

The duchess is in St. Mary’s Hospital in Paddington, central London, where William’s mother, the late Diana, Princess of Wales, gave birth to the prince and his younger brother, Prince Harry, in the 1980s.

Ranks of photographers were in position outside the hospital as the couple arrived by car early today. Some, who had been in position for weeks outside the hospital’s main entrance, missed securing the key shot as the royals went in by a private door.

On the private Lindo Wing at St. Mary’s, which is part of the state-run National Health Service, prices for maternity care start at 4,965 pounds ($7,560) a night for a “normal delivery package,” according to its website.

Three people stand between the baby and the throne; Queen Elizabeth II, who is 87, her eldest son Charles, the Prince of Wales, 64, and William, 31.

When she wed William in 2011, Kate Middleton became the first woman from outside royalty or the aristocracy to marry so close to the throne for 350 years in a ceremony watched on television by 2 billion people worldwide.

Helicopter Pilot

After the birth, William will return to work as a military helicopter pilot after taking the two weeks’ paternity leave to which British fathers are entitled.

An apartment for the duke and duchess and their new baby is being readied at Kensington Palace in central London.

William and Kate will observe tradition by announcing the birth of their baby by having a courtier nail a proclamation to an easel in the courtyard of Buckingham Palace, the queen’s central London residence. In keeping with the times, their office will also post the news on Twitter Inc.’s social networking site.

If the couple have a daughter, the little girl makes history because she will keep her place in the line of succession even if she has a younger brother, after Parliament modernized the rules earlier this year to give princes and princesses equality, overturning tradition.

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