LONDON: Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II met her newborn great-grandson for the first time at Kensington Palace on Wednesday, before Prince William and his wife Kate took the baby to the comforts of the Middleton family home.
The 87-year-old monarch spent just over half an hour at the palace in London where the young couple spent the first night after leaving hospital with the still-unnamed infant, who is third in line to the throne.
The queen has said she is “thrilled” about the latest addition to the family, who will one day succeed her as head of state of Britain and monarch of 15 Commonwealth realms around the globe.
A few hours later, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge took the little prince to stay with his maternal grandparents in the village of Bucklebury west of London, arriving in a convoy of four-by-four vehicles with police outriders.
Carole and Michael Middleton, self-made millionaires from a party goods business, visited the baby in hospital on Tuesday, where Kate’s mother pronounced her first grandson “absolutely beautiful”.
The baby’s uncle Prince Harry — William’s younger brother, who has been knocked down to fourth in line to the throne — and Kate’s sister Pippa Middleton made separate visits to the couple at the palace.
“This is now private and quiet time for them to get to know their son,” a palace spokesman said.
Royal aides said the couple had no immediate plans to hire a nanny, and Kate is expected to rely on her mother for support in the early weeks.
The new baby was revealed to the world when the royal couple left St Mary’s Hospital in London on Tuesday evening to huge cheers and a roar from the international media massed outside.
The prince’s name remains a mystery after William said they were still deciding what to call him. Bookmakers have installed George and James as the favourite names fit for a future king.
Whatever his first name or names, the baby will be titled His Royal Highness, a Prince of Cambridge.
Under British law, parents have 42 days to register the birth — and the name — of their child, and royal tradition suggests there may be a wait ahead.
William’s father Prince Charles and his first wife Diana took a week to announce William’s name in 1982, while the world had to wait a month after Charles was born in 1948.
– Echoes of William’s own birth –
When the queen met her new heir on Wednesday, she became the first British monarch to meet a third-generation direct heir since Queen Victoria a century ago.
The monarch, wearing a turquoise floral outfit, made the visit without her husband Prince Philip, 92, who is convalescing after exploratory surgery on his abdomen last month.
The queen’s private visit — she was whisked in and out of the palace in a green Bentley — contrasted with William and Kate’s highly public outing on Tuesday.
Wearing a cornflower-blue polka-dot dress as she emerged from the private Lindo wing of the hospital, a beaming Kate said the couple were feeling “very emotional” and that it was a “special time”.
The baby behaved impeccably, raising a tiny hand above his white blankets — his first royal wave of a lifetime that will be spent in the public eye.
“He’s got a good pair of lungs on him, that’s for sure,” William joked, adding: “We are still working on a name so we will have that as soon as we can.”
British newspapers noted the similarities between William and Kate’s appearance and that of Charles and Diana following William’s birth at the same hospital.
Kate was wearing the sapphire engagement ring that belonged to Diana, while her empire-line dress, a bespoke design by Jenny Packham, also drew strong comparisons with that worn three decades ago by the princess, which also had a polka-dot pattern.
Charles and his new wife Camilla also visited the hospital, where the prince described his grandson as “marvellous”.
The first public appearance by the new family caused a storm on social media, with Twitter counting more than 18,000 tweets a minute — a testament to the global fascination with the couple since their fairytale wedding in 2011.
Congratulations have poured in from around the world, while Chinese fortune tellers predicted the baby will grow up to be determined but introverted — and a big hit with the ladies.
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