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LONDON — While much of England basks under the summer sun of its first “heatwave” of the year, by U.K. standards, the past week’s 86-degree temperatures are unlikely to have delighted the poor media souls stationed in front of St. Mary’s Hospital, where Kate Middleton, known here as the Duchess of Cambridge, is due to give birth any day now.
The camera crews and TV presenters — all primed for action should the royal waters break and the princess be quickly ferried to the hospital’s exclusive Lindo Wing — are probably all hoping the third in line to the British throne arrives soon.
“We’ve been here about a week,” says a Getty Images photographer with a sigh, from the media pit directly outside the wing’s entrance amid a sea of stepladders and camera equipment.
A man — presumably also press — sleeps beside him on the pavement. “But it’s OK; we’ve been doing shift work.”
Filling in time has clearly been one of the main priorities for those camped out.
The U.K.’s Mother and Baby magazine have quite literally been camped out after building a pop-up office in a bright orange tent.
A “media only” sweepstake, organized by NBC News London, is pinned to the wall, with $7.50 (£5) bets having been placed on the date the baby will arrive.
A sign that reads: “The midwives’ decision is final” is printed underneath, followed by the quip, “guaranteed to be born on a day ending in a ‘y.’ “
Some creative has pinned scores of amusing tags to the ladders and railings. “Don’t feed the photographers,” reads one, referencing a historical instruction about not feeding the British capital’s pigeons.
With reports to file and news segments to fill, journalists are still having to come up with content despite the lack of activity, birthwise.
“I’m so excited to be here,” says one Canadian reporter into his phone, sarcastically, before discussing an earlier encounter with some tourists from Calgary who were equally “ecstatic” to be in London for this special occasion.
Meanwhile, a procession of international reporters line up to interview a man covered head to toe in Union Jack flags (hat, T-shirt, shorts, socks) carrying a sign offering his congratulations to Prince William and Kate.
Garnering equal attention is a woman clutching one balloon saying “It’s a Boy’” and another with “It’s a Girl.”
One balloon will presumably be popped when the news arrives.
“I might stay overnight,” she tells a Japanese camera crew.
Taking advantage of the increased footfall in this usually quiet area of the hospital, some staff have been raising money by selling homemade cakes and cookies from a stall next to the press scrum. “We only just thought of this yesterday,” admits one of the bakers.
Although the baby has been largely reported as being due on the 13th, few are expecting it to be on time.
According to the Canadian presenter, the bookies’ current favorite is for a “seven-pound baby born on the 17th.”
A sign nearby gives odds on the chosen name, with “Alexandra” the favorite for a girl at 5/4 and “George” at 9/1 for a boy.
But even when it does happen, it’s not exactly certain what information will be relayed first from the hospital.
According to royal tradition, an official will appear at the entrance bearing the doctor’s certificate, which will then be escorted — with traditional pomp and circumstance — to Buckingham Palace, where it will be displayed in the forecourt for the public to see.
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