LONDON WELCOMES ROYAL CHILD
The royal baby's grandparents have both met him for the first time today as it emerged the Duchess, Duke and Baby Cambridge are close to leaving hospital.
Carole and Michael Middleton were the first to arrive at the private Lindo Wing at around 3pm today, with Prince Charles and his wife Camilla following them at 5.30pm after being rushed to London by helicopter after two-days carrying out official duties in Yorkshire.
Before mounting the St Mary's Hospital steps, the smiling Prince of Wales asked journalists who have been stood outside for almost three weeks: 'Have you been there long?'
When he left around 10 minutes later, Charles said the baby was 'marvellous' and told journalists: 'You'll see in a minute'.
Earlier doting grandmother Carole Middleton described her grandson, the future king, as 'absolutely beautiful' after she and her husband visited him.
The Duchess of Cambridge's parents said their first grandchild is 'absolutely beautiful' and his parents are coping 'fabulously'.
The Middletons spent just over an hour with their daughter Kate and son-in-law William, and a smiling Mrs Middleton, speaking about mother and baby, said: 'They are both doing really well, and we are so thrilled.'
When asked by the world's media, who have been camped outside for nearly three weeks, how the proud parents were doing, she replied: 'Fabulously.'
Asked what the first cuddle with her grandson was like, Mrs Middleton, who had been ushered forward by her husband to speak to the press, said: 'Amazing, It's all coming back.'
Carole was also asked if she and Michael had suggested any names for the third in line to the throne, and she replied laughing: 'Absolutely not!'.
Telling: The Middletons' arrival at St Mary's Hospital came as it emerged that Kate, William and Baby Cambridge looked to be on the verge of leaving Adding to speculation the world will soon get its first glimpse of the new prince, a member of the royal household also arrived carrying a car seat for the future king and fresh clothes for Kate and William earlier today. The Duchess's hairdresser Amanda Cook Tucker, who has been her stylist since last year, also entered the Lindo Wing via its private rear entrance this afternoon, adding to speculation that mother and child were soon to be discharged. LIVE: The wait for Kate & baby Mrs Cook Tucker has been cutting William and Harry's hair for years, attended the royal wedding and was even flown in on their trip to the Far East in 2012 because Kate's hair started to droop in the 36 degree temperatures. Earlier it was revealed that the family 'are all doing well' today and William and Kate expressed their gratitude to the St Mary's medical team for their 'tremendous care' over the past 24 hours, after their son was born there at 4.24pm yesterday, weighing 8lb 6oz. The world is desperate to get see the unnamed baby, with royal sources saying that they will not leave before 6pm this evening and could even be tomorrow. 'We would like to thank the staff at the Lindo Wing and the whole hospital for the tremendous care the three of us have received. We know it has been a very busy period for the hospital and we would like to thank everyone - staff, patients and visitors - for their understanding during this time,' a joint statement from the couple said this afternoon. A Kensington Palace spokesman added: 'Mother, son and father are all doing well this morning.'
The overjoyed couple have started their first full day as proud parents of a ‘beautiful’ baby boy, as Britain continues to celebrate the prince's birth.
Last night William slept at the hospital in a separate room so he could be near his wife and their little boy, with a huge crowd of media and well-wishers waiting outside to see them all leave.
The Queen’s Surgeon-Gynaecologist Marcus Setchell came to assess Kate this morning and will decide when the Duchess and baby can be discharged.
Members of the press are forced to wait in the pouring rain for the first glimpse of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their newborn son outside St Mary's Hospital in Paddington, west London, today
The young prince's first night in the world was an eventful one, because London was hit with a number of violent thunderstorms after what had been the hottest day of the year so far.
Meanwhile well-wishers partied late into the night outside Buckingham Palace, even in the thunder, lightening and torrential rain.
Prime Minister David Cameron said it was 'a historic moment in the life of our nation' but 'above all, it's a wonderful moment for a warm and loving couple who have got a brand new baby boy'. U.S. President Barack Obama led tributes from world leaders and said that the new baby's birth was a 'joyous occasion'.
The Prince of Wales today resisted heading back to London to meet the child and stuck to his royal duties in Yorkshire, where his wife Camilla described the arrival of the Prince of Cambridge as 'a wonderfully uplifting moment for the country'.
Charles and Camilla were met by cheering crowds of well-wishers on a visit to East Yorkshire where villager after villager offered the couple their congratulations as the royal couple walked around the green in Bugthorpe.
The Royal Canadian Mint also announced that it will issue special commemorative coins to mark the historic occasion.
New Zealand's prime minister John Key said the nation's official gift to the royal couple is a hand-spun, hand-knitted fine lace shawl, similar to the one given when Prince William was born, and there will be a 21-gun salute fired from Point Jerningham, Wellington, today to mark the occasion.
'This is wonderful news for Prince William and Catherine,' he said.
'The birth of a child is a time of great joy and excitement, and I know they will make excellent parents.'
He added: 'New Zealanders remember with fondness the visit of Prince William when he was just a toddler, playing on the lawn of Government House with a Buzzy Bee. It would be a great pleasure to welcome Prince William's son to New Zealand as well.
'On behalf of the people of New Zealand, I wish Prince William, Catherine and the royal family all the very best.
Gun salutes sounded across London today to mark the birth of the royal baby as the armed forces join in the celebrations.
The King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery and the Honourable Artillery Company carried out the ceremonial royal salutes in honour of the new addition to the Royal Family.
Gun salutes are fired for the birth of every prince or princess, no matter where their place is in the line of succession, the Ministry of Defence said. The last royal salute for a birth was for Princess Eugenie in 1990.
The King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery, wearing full dress uniform, paraded past Buckingham Palace to Green Park where they staged a 41-gun royal salute.
They went from their forward mounting base in Wellington Barracks into Green Park, where 71 horses pulled six First World War-era 13-pounder field guns into position for the royal salute at 2pm.
Each of the six guns fired blank artillery rounds at 10-second intervals until 41 shots were fired. The horses and riders then collected the guns and escorted them back to Wellington Barracks.
Major Mark Edward, commanding officer of the King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery, said: 'The opportunity to mark the birth of the child of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge by firing a 41-gun royal salute, comes as a huge honour for the King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery.'
The Honourable Artillery Company (HAC), the City of London's Army Reserve Regiment, also fired a 62-gun salute from Gun Wharf at the Tower of London at 2pm.
Whilst a royal gun salute normally comprises 21 guns, this is increased to 41 if fired from a royal park or residence.
Uniquely, at the Tower of London, which is a royal residence, 62 rounds are fired as this also includes an additional 21 guns for the citizens of the City of London to show their loyalty to the monarch.
Sources close to the new royal mother-to-be suggest that she is definitely not ‘too posh to push’ and wants – unless nature intervenes – to opt for a natural birth rather than an elective caesarean section like many celebrity figures.
The Duchess of Cambridge is likely be relieved their baby is finally on its way after coping with being pregnant in the middle of Britain's longest heatwave for seven years.
Kate has been admitted to hospital on what is expected to be the hottest day of the year so far.
The mercury is expected to reach 33C (91.4F), with the Midlands and the South of England the likely contenders for the hot spots.
Mervi Jokinen, of the Royal College of Midwives, said: 'It gets quite uncomfortable being pregnant in the heat. Your legs swell more. It's actually more uncomfortable. If you go into labour, it can be a relief.'
During a two-day visit to Scotland in April, Kate disclosed she had taken up knitting ahead of the birth. 'I've been trying to knit and I'm really bad. I should be asking for tips,' she admitted.
Kate and William, who spent the weekend at Kensington Palace, travelled without a police escort and entered the hospital through a rear entrance.
Sources told MailOnline that Kate went into labour naturally, and was not induced, adding that things are 'progressing well' for the mother-to-be.
William was said to be determined to make it to the delivery suite, following in the footsteps of his own father who broke royal tradition to be with his wife, Diana, Princess of Wales, for the birth of both their children.
Inside the hospital providing help, advice and logistical support were the royal couple's most loyal aides: Miguel Head, Prince William's unflappable private secretary, and his young colleague Rebecca Deacon, who works as private secretary to the Duchess.
Both are as close to the Duke and Duchess as any member of Royal Household staff can be and are trusted implicitly.
Two of the couple's small press team - press secretary Ed Perkins and his assistant Nick Loughran - were also on permanent standby at the hospital, flitting between the Lindo Wing and the hundreds of photographers, journalists and camera crews waiting outside.
Lastly, the couple's team of Scotland Yard bodyguards were never far away.
Indeed, the couple's police protection officers, who were photographed ushering them safely into hospital, would have been among the first to know that the Duchess was in labour.
Palace officials chose to make the announcement that Kate was in hospital public in an attempt to balance her ‘dignity’ with the fact that social media makes it almost impossible to keep her baby's imminent arrival a secret.
The couple chose not to know the sex of their baby, bucking the trend of 75 per cent of British parents who now choose to discover the gender of their child.
MailOnline understands that William himself was likely to phone the Queen before anyone else, even his own father, depending on what time of day the baby is born.
After this call a traditional and dramatic chain of events will be kick-started that will lead to the announcement of the future monarch's birth - following exactly the same process as Prince William's to retain 'the theatre' of a genuine royal occasion.
As soon as the baby was born, a proclamation signed by the doctors who delivered the boy or girl was to be be rushed from the ward.
The sheet of creamy A4-size Buckingham Palace-headed paper would be brought out of the Lindo’s front entrance by a press officer.
It would then be handed to a waiting driver and driven through the streets of London – escorted by police outriders - to the Privy Purse Door at the front of Buckingham Palace.
There it will then be placed on an easel, last used to announce Prince William’s birth, by the main gates in the palace forecourt.