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As the Duchess languishes, the world’s paps and hacks freeze

Cold comforts and tetchy residents greet media army in Marylebone

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 today as photographers and journalists prepared themselves 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 currently 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,” said one photographer, who hoped in vain that there might be an appearance by the Middleton family.

The paparazzi 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.

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. I shouldn’t buy a newspaper!” she added. One photographer yelled: “Tart!”

Far more pleasant was Terry Hutt, a 77-year-old royal fanatic who had travelled from Cambridge to deliver cards and flowers to the Duchess. “It’s a surprise, but in a nice way,” he said of the pregnancy. In the four hours The Independent spent outside the hospital, Mr Hutt did not succeed in passing his gifts on.

Inside the hospital, the Duchess is believed to be on a drip to restore nutrients lost while suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum. 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” could “have a worse effect on the economy than Black Wednesday”.