UK

Royal baby: London gun salutes mark birth of princess

The Honourable Artillery Company
Image caption The Honourable Artillery Company fired a 62-gun salute at the Tower of London

Gun salutes have taken place in London to mark the birth of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's baby girl.

Volleys were fired by soldiers in Hyde Park and the Tower of London to honour the arrival of the new princess.

Prince William and Catherine have not yet announced the name of their second child, who was delivered on Saturday.

Among the first visitors to see the new princess at Kensington Palace on Sunday were the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall, and Catherine's parents.

For full coverage see our royal baby special report here.

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Image caption The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge left hospital with their daughter on Saturday

Gun salutes are a tradition on the birth of every prince or princess.

Soldiers from The King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery rode out in a procession from Wellington Barracks, near Buckingham Palace, to sound 41 shots in Hyde Park at 14:00 BST.

They were accompanied by the Royal Artillery Band and their 71 horses which pulled six World War One-era Ordnance Quick Fire 13-pounder field guns.

At the same time, the Honourable Artillery Company left their Armoury House barracks in the City of London to fire a 62-gun salute at the Tower of London from three Ceremonial 105mm light guns.


Royal gun salutes

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Gun salutes in 2013 also marked Prince George's birth
  • Mark special occasions including royal birthdays and births, and state visits
  • Number of rounds dependent on the place and occasion
  • Basic salute is 21 rounds, with an extra 20 rounds added in a royal park
  • Extra rounds fired at Tower of London on a royal occasion - a further 20 because it is a palace, and 21 for its City of London location
  • Also fired at Edinburgh, Cardiff and Hillsborough castles

Source: British Monarchy website


The princess, who is fourth in line to the throne and a sister to Prince George, was born at 08:34 BST on Saturday at the private Lindo Wing of St Mary's Hospital in Paddington, and weighed 8lbs 3oz (3.7kg).

The duke and duchess left the hospital with their daughter on the same day and returned home to Kensington Palace. They are to remain there before travelling to their country home, Anmer Hall, on the Queen's Sandringham estate in Norfolk.

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Image caption The royal couple have not yet announced a name for their daughter
Image copyright PA,AP
Image caption The Prince of Wales, Duchess of Cornwall and Catherine's parents and sister visited on Sunday

A Kensington Palace spokesman said on Sunday: "The duke and duchess are hugely grateful for the messages of congratulations they have received from people all over the world. It means a great deal to them that so many people have celebrated the arrival of their new daughter."

The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall spent more than an hour with their new granddaughter. The duchess's parents, Michael and Carole Middleton, and sister Pippa also met the princess.

Prince Harry, who narrowly missed the princess's birth after returning to Australia to finish his secondment to the country's military, said his new niece was "absolutely beautiful" and he could not wait to meet her.

Bookmakers say Charlotte and Alice have emerged as the favourite names for the princess, followed by Olivia, Victoria and Elizabeth.


Royal baby names: the history

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Charlotte, the feminine form of Charles, has a long royal pedigree and became popular in the 18th century when it was the name of George III's queen.

The King bought Buckingham House in 1761 for his wife Queen Charlotte to use as a family home close to St James's Palace - it became known as the Queen's House and is now Buckingham Palace.

Charles is the name of two former Kings and of the Prince of Wales, the princess's grandfather.

Charlotte also has a connection on the duchess's side, as the middle name of her sister Pippa Middleton.

Alice, the previous bookmakers' favourite, was the name of the Duke of Edinburgh's mother, Princess Alice of Battenberg and of his great-grandmother, who was the third child of Queen Victoria.

During the First World War, his mother's family changed Battenberg, the family name, to Mountbatten - the name which Prince Philip adopted when he became a naturalised British subject in 1947.

Other royal Alices include the Queen's aunt by marriage, Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester and one of Queen Victoria's granddaughters, Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone.

Also in the running, according to the bookmakers, are the names Olivia, Victoria and Elizabeth.

While Olivia has no immediately apparent royal connections, it was the second most popular girls' name for babies born in England and Wales in 2013, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Victoria and Elizabeth are arguably the most famous female names in British royal history - with Queen Victoria the longest reigning monarch, and the present Queen Elizabeth II set to surpass her record on September 9, 2015.

The Queen Mother was also called Elizabeth, and it is the middle name of the duchess's mother, Carole Middleton.

Queen Victoria is associated with Britain's great age of industrial expansion, economic progress and, particularly, empire. While the 45-year reign of Queen Elizabeth I of England, the daughter of Henry VIII and the last Tudor monarch, is considered one of the most glorious in English history, including the defeat of the Spanish Armada and the first works of Shakespeare.