Kate and William like to do things their way, and the birth of their first child is proving, so far, to be no exception.
With no fanfare, no sirens and no police outriders, a dark Range Rover and a shiny new Audi nosed their way calmly through the traffic-free streets of London shortly after dawn this morning, covering the one and a half miles from Kensington Palace to the private Lindo Wing of St Mary's hospital in a couple of minutes.
Seated inside the cars were Kate Middleton, who was in the very early stages of labor, and her husband Prince William, who has been by her side all week as the royal couple have played cat and mouse with the press, successfully staying out of view as they moved from Kate's parents home in Berkshire to Kensington Palace.
The photographers, cameramen and news reporters who have been staking out positions outside the hospital for the past three weeks were all either asleep in their nearby hotel rooms or bleary in the early hours, and just one freelance snapper was alert enough to photograph the royal cars as they rolled up to a back entrance of the hospital.
No-one got a picture of Kate.
It wasn't until an hour and a half later that Kate's office at Kensington Palace finally issued a short statement confirming that Kate was actually in the hospital, and 'in the early stages of labor.'
The Duchess's location had been a mystery all week, with various conflicting rumors placing her either at her parents home in Bucklebury or at Kensington Palace, but her location was not pinned down for certain until her office at Kensington Palace issued the short, two-line statement this morning which read, in total:
"Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge has been admitted this morning to St. Mary’s Hospital, Paddington, London in the early stages of labour. The Duchess travelled by car from Kensington Palace to the Lindo Wing at St Mary’s Hospital with The Duke of Cambridge."
And that was it.
The palace had previously indicated they would be making no further statements on the progress of the birth, however they did say this morning that her labor was 'progressing normally'.
The palace have also let it be known that Kate went into labor naturally, and was not induced, and they also subsequently confirmed that Kate and William had come from Kensington Palace.
If the palace is able to control the news the way it is seeking to, then the first indication that the Duchess has given birth will come when an aide leaves the hospital carrying a sheet of paper detailing the baby’s sex, weight and time of birth. This will be handed to a driver and taken to Buckingham Palace.The public will find out the details of the future heir to the throne when the notice is placed on an easel in the forecourt of the Palace. The same easel was used to display the notice of Prince William's birth.
The news will not be relayed by the palace's twitter feed for approximately half an hour, sources say.
The palace is trying to strike a balance between maintaining the formality of the announcement, but also not having too many Twitter photos of the notice circulating before it announces it digitally.
Courtiers say that William is expected to come out of the hospital on his own and make a short statement to the media, and then the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will leave hospital together with the baby and pose for pictures.
Kate is being attended by The Royal Household’s official surgeon-gynaecologist, Alan Farthing, the former fiancé of murdered television presenter Jill Dando, who is the consultant gynaecologist at St Mary’s and will be assisting with the labour.
Technically, however, the man in charge is the Queen’s own surgeon-gynaecologist, Marcus Setchell, who has postponed his retirement to oversee the delivery of Kate's baby.
Once the birth is confirmed, a gun salute will be fired in central London.
Diana spent just one night in the hospital, and Kate was said to be hoping to do the same—like most new mothers in the U.K. these days.
Street parties are expected to be thrown to celebrate the birth, which, if it does indeed happen today, will coincide with what is forecast to be the hottest day of the year so far.