Pregnant Kate Middleton has been admitted to St Mary's Hospital in Paddington, London after going into labour. Kensington Palace confirmed the news early on Monday morning, revealing that the Duchess had travelled by car from Kensington Palace to the Lindo Wing with her husband Prince William by her side.
At around 6am on Monday, a royal convoy was spotted arriving at the hospital's rear entrance, and at 7.30am the statement was issued confirming the news the world has been waiting for.
The Duchess has been admitted to hospital in the early stages of labour
Kate and William have never revealed their baby's due date, but it is widely thought that their firstborn is overdue. The fact that the Duchess arrived by car, and not by ambulance, would suggest that she has gone into labour naturally.
The nation must now patiently await the arrival of the royal baby, which will be delivered by the Queen's former gynaecologist Marcus Setchell and the Queen's current gynaecologist Alan Farthing. It is highly unlikely that there will be any updates during the labour stages, with the first sign that the child has been born being the exit of a royal official from the Lindo wing.
As soon as the new Prince or Princess has made their grand entrance, an official announcement will be signed by Kate's doctors. It will be driven to Buckingham Palace, probably with a police escort. Only then will the public find out the sex, weight and possibly the name of the Queen's third great-grandchild.
The world's press has been camped outside the hospital for well over a week now, and excitement is at an all-time high following the news that the Duchess is now in labour. In scenes that echo the feverish atmosphere surrounding William's birth, followers of the royal family have also joined the throngs.
World's press wait for all-important announcement
It has been reported that Kate will spend the first few weeks following the birth at the home of her parents Carole and Michael to give her the privacy and support she needs during this special time. The Middletons' £4.85million Georgian home is situated in the quiet Berkshire village of Bucklebury.
Carole was certainly very involved in preparations for the little one's arrival. She helped her daughter buy a Moses basket from an exclusive baby boutique in the capital's South Kensington district, and later mother and daughter were spotted shopping for a buggy at Peter Jones department store.
Kate has already fitted out a nursery at the home she shares with William in Kensington Palace. The couple are currently based in Nottingham Cottage, but will soon move into neighbouring apartment 1A, Princess Margaret's former home. Currently being refurbished at a cost of £1 million, it boasts fours storeys and 21 rooms.
The Duke and Duchess also recently hired a housekeeper to help run their home. Antonella Fresolone, 42, previously worked at Buckingham Palace for 13 years, during which time she became one of the Queen's most trusted servants.
As well as re-organising their household, the royals will have turned their attention to the question of godparents.
It is thought Kate's sister Pippa Middleton and Prince Harry will be entrusted with this task when the baby is baptised – a ceremony which is likely to take place in the Music Room of Buckingham Palace, where both William and his father Prince Charles were christened, although the private chapel at Windsor Castle is also a possibility.
News of the birth will be posted at Buckingham Palace on the same easel used when William was born
New dad William will undoubtedly take a hands-on role in looking after the little one. Asked a few months ago if he was looking forward to the baby's arrival, the Prince replied: "Very much so".
The royal, who was visiting a rehabilitation centre for injured servicemen, added: "All the mothers have been looking at me, saying 'Just you wait, just you wait. Long sleepless nights!'"
There's been no announcement made on how long his wife's maternity leave will be. But the hardworking Duchess was attending engagements well into her last trimester. She delighted guests at a Buckingham Palace garden party with her radiant appearance in an elegant lemon outfit, and was pretty in peach at a service of Thanksgiving for the 60th anniversary of the Queen's coronation.
Kate made her last public outing on 15th June when she attended the Trooping of the Colour.
Watch all the action from outside the Lindo Wing as the world awaits news of the arrival of the Prince or Princess