Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, gave her husband Prince William a son Monday after a highly anticipated — and highly publicized — pregnancy and labor for the future heir to the English throne.

royal baby boy

Crowds gather outside Buckingham Palace in central London on July 22, 2013. Prince William’s wife Kate, (Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge) was admitted to hospital today in the early stages of labour as the world awaited the birth of a baby directly in line to inherit the British throne. It will then be made public in the traditional way, with a proclamation signed by royal doctors displayed on an easel in the Buckingham Palace forecourt — the same easel used to announce William’s birth in 1982. (Photo: JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/Getty Images)

Palace officials said Monday the baby was born at 4:24 p.m. and weighs 8 pounds 6 ounces.

The infant will become third in line for the British throne after Prince Charles and William. He will carry the title Prince of Cambridge.

No one can tell what political and personal changes the intervening years will bring, but the baby can be expected to become the head of state of 16 countries, including Britain, Australia and Canada, and possibly the head of the Commonwealth, which covers 54 nations.

The child will also eventually become Supreme Governor of the Church of England.

The baby represents a living link to Britain’s imperial history – the infant is the great-great-great-great-great-grandchild of Queen Victoria, who ruled at the peak of British power.

Kate checked into a private wing at St. Mary’s Hospital in central London early Monday morning. William spent the long hours of labor for their first child at Kate’s bedside.

royal birth announcement

A Buckingham Palace official hands the birth announcement to colleague in a car to be driven to Buckingham Palace, outside St. Mary’s Hospital exclusive Lindo Wing in London, Monday, July 22, 2013. Palace officials say Prince William’s wife Kate has given birth to a baby boy. The baby was born at 4:24 p.m. and weighs 8 pounds 6 ounces.The infant will become third in line for the British throne after Prince Charles and William. (Photo: AP/Lefteris Pitarakis)

Britain Royal Baby

In this image from television, the official announcement of the birth of the son of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge is posted at the gates of Buckingham Palace in London Monday July 22 2013. Now third in line to the throne of England, the child was born at 4.24 PM at St Mary’s hospital in London with Prince William in attendance. (Photo: AP/ APTN)

The birth of a new heir to the throne has been breathlessly anticipated by many in Britain and beyond since William and Kate Middleton wed on April 29, 2011.

Kate Middleton Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William Have a Baby Boy

Kate, Duchess of Cambridge talks to to school children after an official visit to Naomi House near Winchester, England, Monday, April, 29, 2013. (Photo: AP/Alastair Grant)

Officials have said that William plans to take two weeks’ paternity leave and then return to his military duties as a search-and-rescue helicopter pilot in Wales.

His tour of duty is scheduled to wrap up around September, and he and Kate are expected to move from their isolated cottage on the island of Anglesey off the coast of Wales to Kensington Palace in central London.

But major refurbishment works at the palace likely won’t be finished until at least a month or two after the infant is born – meaning that William and Kate will most likely have to make do with their current temporary home in London, a two-bedroom property at the palace.

Come autumn, however, the family will be able to move into their permanent London home, Apartment 1a at Kensington Palace – a four-story house with a nursery, 20 rooms and a private garden.

The royal birth recalled that of the baby’s father, William, in 1982, at the same central London hospital. Many remember the moment when he was carried out in his mother Princess Diana’s arms with proud father Prince Charles at their side.

Royal officials say Kate and William will try to give their child as normal an upbringing as possible – which may be challenging in an age when the British royals are treated as major world celebrities.

Watch this clip from E! regarding the announcement and some details surrounding Kate’s pregnancy:

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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