Russia Not Immune to Royal Baby Fever

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The Duchess of Cambridge (Kate Middleton) and Prince William

After quiet lead-up coverage on Monday, major networks kick off Tuesday news shows with the royal birth.

MOSCOW – If the mood in Moscow and the rest of Russia on Monday concerning the impending British royal birth could be summed up, "sublime indifference" would best describe it.

Russia was more concerned with the return to Moscow of opposition leader Alexander Navalny -- convicted by a provincial court last week on fraud charges but released pending an appeal following spontaneous mass demonstrations in the capital.

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Navalny’s freedom, a major story covered by all Russian media outlets, means he can now wage an election campaign in a bid to become mayor of Moscow in September.

But the lack of interest in things royal and British changed overnight, and Tuesday morning dawned with major Russian television networks leading their bulletins with the news of the British prince's birth.

Channel One, Russia’s most-watched broadcaster, devoted nearly four minutes to the news in its morning bulletin, opening with a town crier in full colorful regalia announcing the birth of a baby boy to Kate Middleton, known formally as the Duchess of Cambridge, outside London’s private St. Mary’s Hospital.

The bulletin included the must-have shots of Buckingham Palace officials placing an announcement of the birth on a gold-gilt stand in front of the British Queen’s official London residence, as well as interviews with Union Jack-bedecked revelers who had been waiting for the news.

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It concluded with a brief history of previous royal births -- including that of the father of the baby boy, Prince William -- clips of British television news presenters popping champagne corks live on air, and shops stocked to the brim with souvenir plates and other commemoratives as Britain gears up for its third big royal event in a row, following the marriage two years ago of William and Kate and last year’s Diamond Jubilee, which celebrated 60 years since Queen Elizabeth II ascended to the throne.

The next item up on Russian newscasts was about flooding in a regional city.

NTV, one of Russia’s other top news channels, led with a shorter package of just over one minute, and top newspaper websites, including those of Kommersant and Komsomolskaya Pravda, held the front page for the historic news, though one commentator on Kommersant’s site observed that an early version of the story mentioned that the baby was the “first child of Charles and Kate.”

The mistake was swiftly rectified.