Royal baby frenzy: ‘I’ve never seen so many cameras’

Photographers, TV anchors, and tourists gather outside the hospital where the Duchess of Cambridge is giving birth.

Note: This article is from the Guardian.


Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Royal baby frenzy: ‘I’ve never seen so many cameras’” was written by Peter Walker, for guardian.co.uk on Monday 22nd July 2013 13.42 UTC

The chaos, such as it was, grew slowly if inevitably. About 45 minutes after the royal labour was announced, the narrow side street adjoining St Mary’s hospital could be negotiated with some ease.

True, no one could call the scene normal. Many dozens of stepladders stood on alert inside a media pen, in tiny taped-off spaces reserved weeks ago, opposite the entrance to the Lindo wing. The media line stretched several hundred metres.

But as the news emerged, the arrivals came in waves. First the photographers, ascending their ladders one more time to check the precious view for when the newly expanded family eventually leaves. Then the TV anchors, breathlessly repeating the news, live and on site – albeit with nothing more to add – in a dozen different languages.

Next were the tourists, there mainly to gawp at the attendant media fuss. Among the early arrivals were the Zuydenwyk family from The Hague: John and Monique and teenage daughters Anou and Milou.

"We walked past it yesterday and when we saw the news this morning at our hotel we decided to come back," said 16-year-old Anou, the designated English speaker of the family. "It’s pretty amazing – I’ve never seen so many TV crews or cameras. We’ve been here two hours already."

Such a fuss was, they said, not unknown to them, given the Dutch royal accession in the spring when King Willem-Alexander succeeded his abdicating mother, Beatrix. "There was a lot of TV coverage for that," said Anou. "But at least something was happening."

As the sun became intense and the photographers dashed to nearby Paddington station for sunscreen supplies, those remaining faced the common media paradox of a fact-hungry world and no actual news.

In lieu of updates, the handful of union flag-bedecked, self-appointed royal superfans faced occasional queues to be interviewed. Others took advantage. A French duo carrying a collection of presents for the new arrival beamed for the cameras, the name of the gift website they represented printed in big letters on a union flag hat.

As police tried to keep the pavement clear, St Mary’s staff and patients – some of the latter on crutches – sometimes struggled to get through. Celia Whelan, a 30-year-old anaesthetist, said she had been watching the media huddle grow over the weeks from a window above.

"You turn on the TV and see someone doing a piece to camera, and you can look out of the window to see them," she said. "It’s fascinating for me because you never usually get to see these things but it seems strange. I’m not a royalist and you’ve got to say, while I wish them all the best, there’s more important things going on."

Seemingly thinking along the same lines was a neatly dressed, eloquent man with a megaphone who popped by to harangue the media and spectators for needing to believe in fairytales. This could be explored through psychotherapy, he explained loudly.

No such doubts existed among the overseas visitors, of course, for whom an imminent royal birth could almost be seen as a new element to heritage Britain. Jean Menzies, 65, on holiday from Australia with her husband and friends, was impatiently watching an Italian man carrying a large and distinctly eccentric self-made oil painting of Kate with her newborn tell a TV crew he was, at heart, a republican.

"Oh no, we don’t agree with any of that," she said, dismissing her own country’s flirtation with removing the Queen as its head of state. "I think that’s just about fizzled out now. Just a few activists and Labor party types trying to stir things up."

Menzies said she saw a parallel between the feelings of indigenous Australians and the connection British-origin citizens felt to events like the royal birth. "He or she will be our head of state, although it’ll be in our grandchildren’s lives, not ours. This is our heritage. This is where we come from."

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