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Baby boy born to Prince William, Kate

LONDON -- A royal baby boy was born Monday to Prince William and his wife, the former Kate Middleton, after weeks of anticipation and excitement among fans of the royal family over the arrival of a new heir to the British throne.

The child was born at 11:24 a.m. Eastern time, about 10 1/2 hours after Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, entered St. Mary's Hospital in central London in the early stages of labor. Palace officials said the infant weighed 8 pounds, 6 ounces.

Barring tragedy -- or revolution -- he is destined one day to reign over Britain and the 15 other nations, including Australia and Canada, that recognize the British monarch as head of state. The child takes his place in the line of succession behind the heir apparent, Prince Charles, and his father, William.

The infant -- no name has been announced yet -- elbows aside William's younger brother, Prince Harry, who has now been demoted to fourth in line.

"Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cambridge was safely delivered of a son at 4:24 p.m.," William's and Kate's office said in a statement issued four hours later, using her formal title. William, known as the Duke of Cambridge, was present for the birth of the child. "We could not be happier," the duke said in a statement released through the Press Association newswire later in the evening.

Born into a life of instant fame and privilege, the newest arrival will be raised as ordinarily as the royal family can manage and is likely to attend private school, according to royal commentator Hugo Vickers.

"This child will live an extraordinary life meeting some of the most famous and fascinating people, yet the royal family has learned to give its children as normal an upbringing as possible," Vickers said.

Royal gun salutes will be fired Tuesday from the Tower of London and from Green Park, close to Buckingham Palace, to mark the birth.

"Both my wife and I are overjoyed at the arrival of my first grandchild," Prince Charles said in a statement. He said he and his second wife, Camilla, "are eagerly looking forward to seeing the baby in the near future."

The newborn is Queen Elizabeth II's third great-grandchild. The queen, who celebrated 60 years on the throne last year, is Britain's longest-serving monarch after Victoria, who died in 1901.

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