The royal baby - lay your bets

Bookies have taken nearly $2 million in bets on the name, sex and birth date of the royal baby. Punters around the world have had a fling. Photo / AP
Bookies have taken nearly $2 million in bets on the name, sex and birth date of the royal baby. Punters around the world have had a fling. Photo / AP

The Duchess of Cornwall has revealed the royal family are hoping for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's baby to be born "by the end of the week".

With Prince William and Kate's first child expected in "mid-July", speculation about the baby's name and gender has given way to sheer excitement at the imminent arrival of the future monarch.

Visiting the Little Harbour Children's Hospital in Cornwall, southwest England, Camilla hinted that no one is more caught up in the mood of expectation than the royals themselves.

She said: "We don't know what's going to happen. We're all waiting at the end of a telephone.

"I hope by the end of the week he or she will be there."

The long wait for the birth is big business for Britain's bookmakers.

Punters around the world are betting on a girl called Alexandra to be born, well, any day now.

And with footballer David Beckham joking that the child should be named after him, the temptation for people to wager on every detail grows with every day.

Bookies say bets on the name, sex and date of the first child of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are drawing a record number of bets for a non-sports market, worth more than 1 million ($1.9 million) so far.

"It is the biggest novelty market we have ever seen," said Gary Burton, from the British betting firm Coral.

"We did the pope, we did reality TV and this is by far the biggest we have had. It's getting busier and busier the more it goes on and the more coverage it gets."

Bookmaker William Hill said it had taken 100,000 from punters in 100 countries, including a 1000 bet from a punter in Austria on a male baby in the past week.

That is at odds with those who believe it will be a girl following a slip of the tongue by Kate earlier this year when she appeared to start the word "daughter" when talking about the baby before cutting herself short.

Favourites for the name have remained broadly similar for weeks.

Alexandra, the middle name of the baby's paternal grandmother Queen Elizabeth II has topped the odds for weeks with most bookmakers offering around 6/4.

Other girls' favourites include Charlotte, Victoria (after Britain's longest-reigning monarch) Elizabeth and Diana. For boys James - the name of Kate's brother - and George lead the pack.

- AFP

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