The craze around the royal birth

…or ‘Event SO601865’, as London police are calling it

Photographers and television crews mark out positions in front of the door to the Lindo Wing of St Mary's Hospital, where Britain's Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge is due to give birth in central London. (Neil Hall/Reuters)

Starting this week, media began camping outside St. Mary’s Hospital in London in anticipation of the birth of the future monarch of Britain (and Canada and 14 other realms).

It sounds kind of unbelievable that news organizations are scheduling around the clock coverage of a hospital, but this is an event with no known schedule other than the knowledge that Kate has to go to hospital, sooner or later. No one wants to be the only organization that wasn’t there to cover it. With all the world watching, the birth is big business for all concerned.

As Sky News royal correspondent Paul Harrison (@skynewsroyal) tweeted: “I’m sleeping badly. Off the booze. Mobile off silent. Bag packed. Hospital route planned. And it’s not even my baby!!” It’s such a large production that London’s Metropolitan Police have given the birth its own code. So while most might call it “William and Kate have a baby,” it’s Event SO601865 for the bobbies and other police officers outside the hospital, where parking is suspended from July 1 to July 31.


And don’t think it’s just the media that has drunk deeply from a royal chalice. William Hill, one of Britain’s biggest betting shops, is taking odds on everything from the baby’s weight (6 lb. to 6 lb. 15 oz. is 7:2),  the birth date (July 30 is 40:1), the day of the week (Monday is 11:2) and of course the name (Chardonnay is 250:1, for those wanting long odds). The stores are filled with tchotchkes. And the Royal Mint, always eager to capitalize on any Windsor happening, is giving away up to 2,013 “lucky” pennies for babies born on the same day (everyone else can plunk down $40 for one), complete with its own pink or blue bag.

It’s gotten so nutty that Gordon Rayner, the chief reporter at the Daily Telegraph, is getting mail using a new infant-focused title.

And as the days pass with no news, the frenzy will increase. This could be a long, long month.

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