LONDON – Under early evening skies illuminated by a blitz of camera flashes, Prince William and his wife, Catherine, stepped out of the Lindo Wing of St. Mary’s Hospital on Tuesday and briefly introduced the world to their newborn prince, who stands one day to inherit the British throne.
“He’s got her looks, thankfully,” a cheerful William told reporters as he held the baby, still unnamed, in his arms. Asked if his son has hair, he said, “He’s got way more than me, thank God.”
In a moment that brought recollections of 31 years ago — when the late Diana, Princess of Wales, and Prince Charles had walked out of the same wing of the same hospital with Prince William in their arms — the couple, both dressed in blue, cradled their infant and gave the members of the media what they had waited for.
As the little prince wailed, Prince William — who said he had changed the first royal “nappy” — quipped, “He has a good set of lungs on him, that’s for sure.”
He said the couple were still working on a name. “We will have that as soon as we can. It’s the first time we have seen him really, so we are having a proper chance to catch up.”
Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, looked robust after giving birth and said the birth had been “very emotional.”
“It’s such a special time,” she said. “I think any parent . . . would probably sort of know what this feeling feels like.”
And then, in a scene somehow bizarre in its normalcy, the couple casually put the newborn in a baby car seat, which William placed in the back seat of his ride with Catherine before taking the wheel himself for their drive home to Kensington Palace.
When they first stepped out of the hospital at 7:13 p.m., their newborn was swaddled in a blanket, his face barely visible to the waiting photographers and cameramen.
Catherine, wearing a blue dress, cradled the baby in her arms and waved. As she did so, a tiny hand emerged from the swaddling, as if waving also. She then handed the newborn to William, who wore a blue shirt with the sleeves rolled up.
Cheers went up as the family emerged, and the crowd drowned out the questions and most of the answers as the couple spoke to reporters.
The family appeared before a waiting throng after Prince Charles and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, visited the hospital late Tuesday afternoon to meet Charles’ day-old grandson.
Charles smiled and waved to the photographers and well-wishers who had camped outside the hospital for hours to await the public debut of the baby prince. The eldest son of Queen Elizabeth II, Charles is first in line to succeed her, followed by his own firstborn, William, and then William’s newborn son.
“Everything’s marvelous. You’ll see in a minute,” Charles said while exiting the hospital with his wife, suggesting the debut of the newest heir to the throne was imminent.
Among those who gathered outside the hospital to await the prince’s emergence was Margaret Tyler, a 69-year-old Londoner known for her home stuffed with more than 10,000 items of royal memorabilia. “I’m not going to miss this,” she said. “When they walk out that door, that will be our history.”
Catherine, formerly Kate Middleton, gave birth to a baby boy weighing 8 pounds and 6 ounces (3.8 kg) on Monday afternoon, with William in attendance. The proud parents spent the night together in the hospital, and a spokesman from Kensington Palace, their royal household, said in a statement that, “Mother, son and father are all doing well.”
Earlier Tuesday afternoon, the baby’s maternal grandparents stopped by for a visit. “He’s absolutely beautiful,” Carole Middleton, Catherine’s mother, told reporters, adding that the royal couple “are doing fabulously.”
Middleton said her first cuddle with the baby was “amazing.” Asked for “any suggestion” of the baby’s name, she demurred. “Absolutely not,” she said.
Each word was captured and tweeted by the photographers and camera crews who are keeping a damp vigil outside the hospital that is sure to last until they get their golden photo opportunity: the couple, baby in hand, exiting the now-familiar brick façade of the Lindo Wing.
The bells of Westminster Abbey — the church where William and Catherine were married — tolled for three hours Tuesday to honor the new heir. The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery rode past Buckingham Palace, offering a 41-gun salute to the baby prince, while the Army Reserve Regiment fired a 62-gun salute from the Tower of London’s Gun Wharf.
Congratulations continued to pour in from foreign governments, suggesting the soft power the royal family lends Britain around the globe. Even Iran — which has dubbed Britain the “little Satan” — offered its congratulations to “Her Majesty, the Queen of England, and also the Crown Prince on the birth.”
“This is a source of happiness,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Araqchi told reporters in Tehran.
Hillary Rodham Clinton — former U.S. secretary of state, senator and first lady, and one of the best-known women in the world — conveyed her good wishes via Twitter: “Congratulations from across the pond to the Duke and Duchess! Wishing you the best of luck and a bit of advice: It Takes a (Royal) Village!”
For some, though, it was all a bit much. The wry front page on British satirical magazine “Private Eye”— which simply read, “Woman Has Baby” — summed up the indifference some felt about the news.
“It’s a baby, nothing else,” said Tom Ashton, a 42-year-old exterminator on his way to work. “It’s not going to mean anything to my life.”