Royal baby: counting the days as bookies count profits
THE great royal baby wait continued yesterday, with no let-up in the intense scrutiny of the private St Mary's Hospital, where the Duchess of Cambridge is due to give birth.
Camera crews from across the world and royal fans from across Britain were spending another day outside in the heatwave, waiting. Unfortunately for them, nothing happened.
The hospital has now become a tourist attraction in its own right.
Nancy Leli and her son, Michael, from Chicago, dropped by to have a look. In the absence of any sign of royalty, they were filmed and photographed by the media.
Mrs Leli, 64, said: "We're 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."
Two German families on holiday in London were making repeat visits.
Andrea Theal, 44, who was with her son, Kim, 15, her friend Angela Woll, 45, and her son, Marcel, 15, said: "We've taken a picture of the wing so we have a record of where it happened. To be honest, I thought she would have had the baby a lot sooner.
"We're all just so excited about finding out whether it's a boy or a girl. It's going to be such a surprise."
There is excitement on Twitter too. Users of the social networking site have been charting any activity outside the hospital, with no detail too small to mention.
"Royal baby" was the most commonly searched topic on Google on Friday, with more than 100,000 searches in Britain alone.
For some, no news can indeed be good news: bookies 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 (€29,000) on failed attempts to predict the baby's date of birth, while Ladbrokes said it made£18,000.
Ladbrokes spokeswoman Jessica Bridge 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 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's Nicola McGeady said: "People are now betting on Tuesday, which would make the baby a Leo.
"Punters have already placed their bets on the name and hair colour, so all the attention is going on to the date and whether it will be a Cancer or Leo."
There is one certainty in all this: there will indeed 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.
"I'm so ready for her to drop, but you can't predict Mother Nature."