, LONDON, July 22 – The London hospital hosting Prince William’s wife Kate was the scene of a media frenzy Monday after weeks of waiting for the royal baby while tourists kept an eye out for the big announcement at Buckingham Palace.
For the dozens of weary international journalists who have camped for three weeks outside St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington, central London, there was relief at the prospect, finally, of some actual news to report.
The Duchess of Cambridge’s admittance to the hospital’s private Lindo Wing at around 6:00 am (0500 GMT) also brought joy for the handful of hardcore royalists who have camped outside the hospital for several days.
“I’m so excited, like I’m in a washing machine,” said John Loughrey, who has slept on a bench outside the hospital for seven nights, resplendent in the red, white and blue of the British flag.
“I’ve never been so high! It was such a long wait. I hope it’s worth it. I hope it’s a girl,” he told AFP.
Since July 1, the forest of camera tripods and photographers’ ladders outside the hospital has been staffed by highly underworked cameramen, sprawled in the sunshine on what has been dubbed the “Great Kate Wait”.
But on Monday the sleepy mood vanished.
William and Kate’s child is the first British royal baby born into the era of 24 hour news and despite a likely wait of several hours still to go before the actual birth, reporters were queueing up for endless live dispatches.
“We’ve been waiting for this for 10 days now,” said Shanshan Yang from China’s CCTV channel. “It was a long wait. We didn’t show up every day, but now of course we’ll stay here until the baby comes.”
A large media camp has also sprung up at Queen Elizabeth II’s London residence Buckingham Palace, where a formal notice of the birth is to be displayed on a gilded easel at the gates.