Morning sickness inside... sheer boredom outside, as media waits

Marylebone hospital treating Kate remains the focus of global interest. By Liam O'Brien
Click to follow
The Independent Online

Is it twins? Is it a boy or a girl? Will Kate wear skyscraper heels during her pregnancy like Victoria Beckham? The royal birth may still be around seven months away, but the media circus surrounding the Duchess of Cambridge's unborn child was in full swing as the media prepared for more than half a year's worth of wild speculation. Yet as the hours wore on, the initial enthusiasm outside King Edward VII hospital in central London, where the Duchess is being treated for acute morning sickness, began to run low. Around 100 photographers, television crew members and journalists grew frustrated as absolutely nothing happened apart from Prince William's dash into the building at 11.30am.

"We are all freezing, we all want to go home. We don't know who's coming or going or what's going to happen," said one photographer, who hoped in vain that there might be an appearance by the Middleton family.

The paparazzi, who were struggling to get a unique shot given the bevy of news photographers (five from the Daily Mail alone), were in an even worse mood.

"I've been here five minutes and I'm not staying much longer," one piped up. He said shots of Kate could potentially earn him more money than those of Cheryl Cole, but this particular story is special. "It's not the fact it's Kate, it's because it's the future King or Queen," he said.

The media presence, which includes crews from the US, Canada, Italy, France and Spain, was given a curmudgeonly welcome by residents of plush Marylebone. One woman complained of the TV vans whirring throughout the night, while another remarked: "It can't be any fun being well-known, can it?"

An elderly woman strode up the street and bellowed at a traffic warden: "I hope you're fining them for that: parking on the yellow line," her male accomplice trying in vain to contain her fury. "I shouldn't buy a newspaper!" she said as a photographer yelled: "Tart!"

Far more pleasant was Terry Hutt, a 77-year-old royal fanatic who had travelled from Cambridge to deliver some cards and flowers to the Duchess. "It's a surprise, but in a nice way," he said of the pregnancy. In the four hours i spent outside the hospital, Mr Hutt did not succeed in passing his cards on, but said he'd "probably take it to Buckingham Palace or Clarence House later".

Inside the hospital, the Duchess is believed to be on a drip to restore nutrients lost while suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum, surely now one of the best-known illnesses in the world. She isn't scheduled to leave the care of doctors for a few days, but in the meantime she can read articles advising her that wearing "too many smocks and frumpy waterfall cardies from M&S" as her bump grows could "have a worse effect on the economy than Black Wednesday".

She can, however, rest easy knowing that Theresa May will not have to be present at the birth (it was traditional for the Home Secretary to be in the delivery room until 1948).

But the future birth has raised the more serious question of succession.

Last night Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said legislation to ensure that the Duke and Duchess's baby becomes monarch regardless of whether it's a boy or girl will be introduced as "rapidly" as possible.

"The Government will soon introduce the Succession to the Crown Bill which will make our old fashioned rules fit for the 21st century," he said.

In the meantime, the world's media will be cradling cups of cold coffee outside the Royal palaces, their hospitals and the home of the Middleton family.

But not everyone has been taken in by this year's glut of royal news.

"Who's in there?" said one tourist, expressing disappointment when it wasn't Prince Charles.