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The royal baby is almost here.Britain and the world eagerly awaited word Monday of Prince William and wife Kate Middleton's first child and heir to the throne after the Duchess of Cambridge went into labor earlier in the day.She was admitted to St. Mary’s Hospital early Monday morning after arriving in a private car with her husband. She is expected to give birth in the private Lindo Wing of the hospital, where Princess Diana gave birth to William and to his younger brother, Harry.As crowds gathered outside, and at Buckingham Palace, awaiting the infant who will be third in line to the throne after Prince Charles and William, palace officials instituted a virtual news blackout.The couple’s spokesman said only “things are progressing as normal,” and Sky News royal correspondent Paul Harrison said Kate’s condition had been described as “very well.”But little is known about how the birth will proceed – if it will be a natural birth or caesarian or whether William will be at his wife’s side.Queen Elizabeth II, about to become a great-grandmother, will be the first notified. She drew cheers from the crowds outside when she returned to Buckingham Palace Monday afternoon.Representatives of the world's press had been gathered for days outside of St. Mary's Hospital. The Duchess' exact due date had been a closely guarded secret, but the general sense was that the royal baby's arrival was overdue by at least one or two days. Protocol requires that the queen be informed about the birth before the general public is told.