Royal baby: Hospital on royal tourist trail

By Edward Malnickin, Josie Ensor

There is one certainty in all this: there will be a birth. Photo / AP
There is one certainty in all this: there will be a birth. Photo / AP

Depending on your point of view it might have been day eight, day seven, possibly day six - maybe day two, or it might still be a week to go.

Whichever day of the great royal baby wait it was yesterday, the intense scrutiny of the private hospital where the Duchess of Cambridge was due to give birth was unrelenting.

Camera crews and royal fans from across the world were spending another day outside in the heatwave, waiting, and - well, waiting. Unfortunately for them, and hardly for the first day, nothing happened.

The hospital has now become a tourist attraction in its own right.

Nancy Leli and her son Michael, from Chicago, on a one-week trip to London, dropped by to have a look. In the absence of any sign of royalty, they were filmed and photographed by the world's media.

Leli, 64, said: "We're incredibly big royal fans - it all started with Princess Diana.

We couldn't come all the way here and not visit the hospital when there's such a big guest expected. Babies come when they come but we are all patiently waiting and we've had to have a lot of patience with this one."

Of course, it was not just outside the hospital that people were waiting; the world was watching online.

A live video feed from outside the hospital's Lindo Wing - nicknamed the Limbo Wing by some stranded waiting - has generated a running commentary on Twitter charting any activity outside the building, with no detail too small to mention.

Of course, for some, no news can indeed be good news: bookmakers were delighted that the baby had not yet been born, because the lion's share of bets were placed on an arrival last week. Coral said it had so far made 25,000 ($31,500) on failed attempts to predict the baby's date of birth, while Ladbrokes said it had kept 18,000.

Jessica Bridge, a spokesman for Ladbrokes, said: "We are rubbing our hands with glee that the baby is overdue now, but we know it's only going to be short-lasting. The gender is obviously going to cost us a fortune either way, so ideally we would love it if the couple chose a name that's generally been friendless with punters and therefore hasn't seen a lot of money, such as Philip or Grace."

Coral said some bettors appeared to have been influenced by the disclosure in the Sunday Telegraph last week that Carole Middleton had told friends that her first grandchild could have a Leo star sign - meaning she does not think it will be born until at least Tuesday.

There is one certainty in all this: there will be a birth. Whether those who are waiting will be in a fit state to take it in remains to be seen.

Lama Hasan, a correspondent with the American broadcaster ABC, said: "It's my 11th day here, and I've lost all sense of reality. I'm supposed to leave around 6pm but I never do. I loiter, thinking if I leave, it will happen that second. Once I've left, I'm still glued to my BlackBerry.

"I'm so ready for her to drop, but you can't predict Mother Nature."

- Daily Telegraph UK

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