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BREAKING: Duchess of Cambridge admitted to hospital

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LONDON (CNN) — Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, has been admitted to St. Mary’s Hospital in the early stages of labor, Buckingham Palace announced Monday morning.

The duchess and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, traveled by car from Kensington Palace to the Lindo Wing at St. Mary’s Hospital, his office at Clarence House announced.

The hospital, next to Paddington Station in London, is where William and his brother Prince Harry were born.

It could be 10 days before the baby’s name is announced. British bookmakers favor the names Alexandra, Charlotte, Elizabeth, Victoria, Grace, James and George. The field is open for both boys’ and girls’ names because royal sources said the parents did not want to know their child’s sex in advance.

The child’s title will be His or Her Royal Highness Prince or Princess (the baby’s name) of Cambridge, St. James’s Palace said this month.

The duchess’ mother, Carole Middleton, was expected to be on hand at the hospital.

But Home Secretary Theresa May said she won’t be there. Centuries ago, “the home secretary had to be there to evidence that it was genuinely a royal birth and that a baby hadn’t been smuggled in,” May explained. But she said that requirement is now defunct.

Protocol dictates that the first to know about the arrival of the baby will be Queen Elizabeth II, Prime Minister David Cameron and the governors general of each of the commonwealth nations — along with the rest of the royal and Middleton families.

The baby will be third in line for the throne now occupied by the queen. Her son, Prince Charles, would succeed her, followed by his son, William.

Thanks to a change adopted by the leaders of the Commonwealth countries in 2011, the baby’s place in the order of succession will be the same regardless of sex.

Previously, boys automatically trumped female siblings. So a first-born daughter could be pushed out of line by a younger brother.

The royal birth is expected to be good for business. The Centre for Retail Research estimates retailers will sell $121 million worth of royal-related baby toys and souvenirs. Merchandise ranges from diaper covers and clothing to a “prince potty chair,” which of course is in the shape of a throne.

By Richard Allen Greene and Laura Spark-Smith

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