By REBECCA ENGLISH, ROYAL CORRESPONDENT and MARTIN ROBINSON
Kate's parents Carole and Michael smiled broadly as they arrived at hospital to see their daughter and meet their new grandchild
The Duchess of Cambridge's parents have arrived to see their daughter, son-in-law and new grandchild, becoming the first family members to visit them in hospital.
Carole and Michael Middleton grinned broadly as they walked into the Lindo Wing at St Mary's Hospital in west London at just after 3pm, as it appeared that Kate, William and the future king looked to be on the verge of leaving for Kensington Palace.
Kate and William have asked the Middletons to visit them and their new child before the royal family
As they left the hospital, Carole Middleton said the baby was 'absolutely beautiful' and that Kate and William were coping 'fabulously'.
In a break from expected protocol, the Duke and Duchess asked the Middletons to visit them and their new child before any members of the royal family, including Prince Charles and the Queen.
Adding to speculation the world will soon get its first glimpse of the new prince, a member of the royal household also arrived carrying a car seat for the future king and fresh clothes for Kate and William earlier today.
The Duchess's hairdresser Amanda Cook Tucker, who has been her stylist since last year, also entered the Lindo Wing via its private rear entrance this afternoon, adding to speculation that mother and child were soon to be discharged.
Duchess of Cambridge and their newborn son outside St Mary's Hospital in Paddington, west London, today
Mrs Cook Tucker has been cutting William and Harry's hair for years, attended the royal wedding and was even flown in on their trip to the Far East in 2012 because Kate's hair started to droop in the 36 degree temperatures.
Earlier it was revealed that the family 'are all doing well' today and William and Kate expressed their gratitude to the St Mary's medical team for their 'tremendous care' over the past 24 hours, after their son was born there at 4.24pm yesterday, weighing 8lb 6oz.
The world is desperate to get see the unnamed baby, with royal sources saying that they will not leave before 6pm this evening and could even be tomorrow.
'We would like to thank the staff at the Lindo Wing and the whole hospital for the tremendous care the three of us have received. We know it has been a very busy period for the hospital and we would like to thank everyone - staff, patients and visitors - for their understanding during this time,' a joint statement from the couple said this afternoon.
A Kensington Palace spokesman added: 'Mother, son and father are all doing well this morning.'
The overjoyed couple have started their first full day as proud parents of a ‘beautiful’ baby boy, as Britain continues to celebrate the prince's birth.
Last night William slept at the hospital in a separate room so he could be near his wife and their little boy, with a huge crowd of media and well-wishers waiting outside to see them all leave.
The Queen’s Surgeon-Gynaecologist Marcus Setchell came to assess Kate this morning and will decide when the Duchess and baby can be discharged.
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