x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Gun salutes and grandparents welcome Britain's royal arrival

Prince William thanks hospital staff for their 'tremendous care' as yet another day is dominated by the future king's young life. Omar Karmi reports from London

Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, carries Britain’s future king into public view for the first time.
Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, carries Britain’s future king into public view for the first time.

LONDON // And so he went home.

After all the excitement that accompanied his birth, Britain's newest royal left hospital yesterday to a huge roar from the assembled crowds outside - many of whom had camped out for days and weeks - and the whirring and snapping of hundreds of cameras.

It had been another day dominated by the future king's young life.

The birth had been announced on Monday evening in red, white and blue, the colours of the British flag, on the London Eye, the giant Ferris wheel on the River Thames.

It was put in digital form on the British Telecom Tower in the centre of London. At sea, the crew of the British navy's HMS Lancaster spelt it out on deck with their bodies.

"It's a boy," screamed the headlines of almost every British paper yesterday morning - the free Metro newspaper, available in the London Underground, went with "Oh Boy" - and the Honourable Artillery Company fired a 62-gun salute at the Tower of London accompanying the King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery's traditional 41-gun salute in Green Park.

The baby at the centre of the storm, meanwhile, was discharged from St Mary's hospital yesterday evening, offering the world its first glimpse of a boy whose life will very much continue as it started, in the public eye.

Wrapped in a white hospital blanket and safely ensconced in his mother's arms, the future king made his first public appearance on the steps of the exclusive Lindo Wing, before being gingerly transferred to his father, Prince William.

The royal family posed for cameras and the couple seemed happy to chat briefly with the media. Prince William said his son had "a good set of lungs on him", and Kate described herself as "very emotional", and the occasion as "very special".

"I know how long you guys have been sat out here," said William. "Hopefully now you can go back to normal and we can go back to looking after him."

Earlier, the third in line to the British throne had also received his first visitors - his grandparents.

First came Carole and Michael Middleton, the parents of Kate, Duchess of Cambridge.

"He's absolutely beautiful," a beaming Mrs Middleton told the massed ranks of international media outside.

They were followed two hours later by Charles, the Prince of Wales, and his wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall. Prince Charles said the boy was "marvellous".

Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, and Kate were to take their son to Kensington Palace from the hospital, a palace statement said.

William yesterday thanked staff at the hospital "for the tremendous care the three of us have received".

Leaders of the UAE joined in congratulations that flooded in from across the world. The President, Sheikh Khalifa, sent a cable congratulating Queen Elizabeth II on the arrival of her great-grandson. Similar wishes were sent to the queen by the Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, and Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces. Barack Obama, the US president, said the baby had arrived at a "time of promise and opportunity" between the US and Britain. Shinzo Abe, Japan's prime minister, said the arrival was "bright and wonderful news" for Britain.

Even Vladimir Putin, Russia's president, whose has a testy relationship with David Cameron, the British prime minister, conveyed his congratulations to Queen Elizabeth II, the new arrival and "all members of the royal family".

The next major event in the royal baby's already tumultuous life will be the public announcement of his name. That could take time: Prince Charles was not known as such until a month after his birth.

That has not stopped purveyors of souvenir tatt: cups and platters were already yesterday decorated for maximum gain regardless of royal gender.

At one stand in London's Hyde Park area, royal fans could secure a commemorative stone plaque remembering the "Duke and Duchess of Cambridge: Royal Birth" for a hefty £51 (Dh288). Punters could also secure a boxed children's tableware set, the "Royal Baby Set", for £49, or a "Royal Baby Biscuit Tin" for £40.

And for the budget traveller, a tea mug with the words, "It's a boy" or "Boy King!" and "July 2013" inscribed went for £3.99 each.

People were not quite out dancing in the streets of London, however, regardless what the wall-to-wall coverage might suggest.

Business very much went on as usual on a warm muggy day with occasional showers. Organisers of the City of London Festival in the financial hub dedicated the day to the royal birth, but one Greek band baulked at being asked to open their set with the British national anthem.

Although sporting a chalkboard announcing, "It's a boy!", Stephanie, 22, from South London, did not see that as occasion to give away free samples from her stall. She invoked the value added tax she was liable for instead.

"Look at it this way. Twenty per cent of what you spend will go directly to the welfare of the little baby boy."

okarmi@thenational.ae

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