The Duchess of Sussex has gone into labour, Buckingham Palace has announced, as the world awaits the arrival of the overdue Baby Sussex.
She will give birth to her first child in the coming hours, with her husband by her side.
The couple have maintained an element of secrecy around the arrangements for the birth, saying they will share news of their baby’s arrival “once they have had an opportunity to celebrate privately as a new family”.
Members of the international press have been assembled in Windsor for several weeks awaiting news that the baby is on its way, with American television networks updating their viewers daily.
They will now be joined by excited members of the public and the British media, in the last few hours before the seventh-in-line to the throne is welcomed into the world.
The baby is understood to be around a week overdue, with the Duchess, who is 37, said to be “comfortable and content” as she waited in her new home at Frogmore Cottage with her husband and mother Doria Ragland by her side.
She is reported to have hoped for a home birth, as the couple emphasise their wish for total privacy for their new arrival.
That plan will change as medically necessary, sources have suggested, with overdue babies requiring careful monitoring for the safety of mother and child and contingency plans in place for any intervention needed.
The Duchess is reported to have chosen a female-led team to support her, with the Royal Household doctors on hand to help if necessary.
Speculation about an imminent arrival had increased in the last three days, after Buckingham Palace announced that the Duke would be travelling to the Netherlands on May 9th.
The travel plans had led many to believe the couple knew their baby would have arrived by then, with the Duke considered highly unlikely to want to leave his heavily-pregnant wife to fly overseas.
While the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge chose to publish limited details of the arrangements for the birth of their three children, with a controlled facility outside the Lindo Wing in London for members of the public to join their celebrations, the Sussexes have cultivated an air of mystery around their plans.
The decision had led to many members of the public believing the baby has already been born: a theory staunchly denied by the palace.
The date and place of birth will eventually be confirmed, required on the legal and public document of the birth certificate.
In a statement confirming the nature of arrangements for the birth last month, Buckingham Palace said: “The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are very grateful for the goodwill they have received from people throughout the United Kingdom and around the world as they prepare to welcome their baby.
“Their Royal Highnesses have taken a personal decision to keep the plans around the arrival of their baby private.
“The Duke and Duchess look forward to sharing the exciting news with everyone once they have had an opportunity to celebrate privately as a new family.”
If all goes well, the new family of three may receive visitors from other members of the Royal Family, while the Duchess’ mother Doria Ragland is expected to remain by her daughter’s side in the early days.
The baby, who will be seventh-in-line to the throne, has already made its presence felt on social media after the Sussexes’ official Instagram account thanked fans for their charity donations in his or her name.
A post read: “On behalf of The Duke and Duchess (and Baby Sussex), we thank you so much.”
Bookies are currently taking bets on the sex and name of the baby, with odds overwhelmingly favouring a girl.
Diana and Elizabeth are the current favourites for names, with the public apparently convinced the Prince Harry is likely to name his daughter after his late mother.
Allegra has also become a front runner in recent days, as the name Diana, Princess of Wales, once said she may have used for a baby girl.
The Sussexes will begin their lives as a family of three there, in the secluded grounds of Frogmore where they are known to have got to know one another in the early stages of dating and held their wedding reception.
The Duke and Duchess have only recently moved into their permanent home at Frogmore Cottage after it underwent extensive renovations.
It has not yet been confirmed whether the baby’s safe arrival will be announced with a formal message posted on an easel, in the same way as the Cambridge children.
There is no firm precedent that would insist upon formalities such as the easel of a gun salute for the seventh-in-line to the throne, with many of the Queen’s grandchildren missing out.