The royal baby watch was long and trying — and then the guest of honor turned up.
Note: This article is from the Guardian.
This article titled “Royal baby watch was long and trying – and then the guest of honour turned up” was written by Maev Kennedy and Lisa O’Carroll, for The Guardian on Tuesday 23rd July 2013 21.27 UTC
The Middletons may never get as warm a reception in their lives, not even from their daughter, son in law and new grandson, as they got from several hundred people who had spent seven hot and often soaking hours staring at the closed door of the Lindo wing of St Mary’s hospital.
It would be another four hours until the star turn was carried out almost invisible in the folds of a white shawl, but as the first remotely exciting event of the day, the Middletons were truly welcome.
It had been a very long morning. Sometimes police officers stood rigidly to attention at the bottom of the steps, and the photographers stirred on their tall ladders wondering if something was afoot. Sometimes police officers cowered in the doorway as rain came down in torrents. Once a giant pink pig wandered down the street while his assistants threw showers of jelly sweets. Once a man came to the door with a big brown cardboard box, and was sent away to the goods entrance.
It was, in photographers’ parlance, “an eight-step event”, and the last time they had one of those was when Abu Qatada was deported at the RAF Northolt airbase a fortnight ago.
The birth of the royal baby has prompted a global media feeding frenzy at St Mary’s hospital in London, with some photographers on standby with their ladders for 21 days in the barricaded media pen.
Andrew Parsons, photographer and owner of picture agency i Images, has had his three ladders chained in position from 1 July, when Kate-wait started in earnest.
“We started with six but then as time went on we had to go up to eight, some are even at 12,” said Parsons, who struggles to recall any other event bar the Abu Qatada departure when he had to scale such heights for a photograph.
The day wore on and no one else came to the door, until about 3pm a car pulled up, and to the rapture of the crowd, stopped. A vision of home counties affluent middle age emerged; the man in navy blazer and chinos, the woman in elegant grey print dress. In response to yells, pleas and whistles from the media pens, Michael and Carole Middleton paused momentarily, glanced back for a second, and then went in to meet their nameless grandson.
Earlier, just before noon, helicopters had clattered overhead. The bridge over the road linking the two halves of the hospital was suddenly packed with staff and patients. A line of police in stab-proof vests filled the side alley. Their colleagues made determined efforts to clear gawpers and media alike off the road and back behind the security barriers. There was a palpable buzz of excitement, shriller with every half smart passing car – a black Audi, a silver Beamer.
Something did happen: an inch of rain fell in five minutes, saturating many of the television journalists in mid-live link.
One elegant Belgian correspondent sat barefoot in the hospital cafe, waiting sadly for his next live link, his soaking socks draped over the cross bar of his table. His attempt to persuade the staff to let him dry them in a microwave failed.
Within minutes a communique came from Kensington Palace, passed with groans from one ladder to the next: neither the baby nor his parents would be putting in an appearance until night time – at the earliest. With many more live links to fill, the foreign TV crews asked the British why their country men were so excited about a mere baby, the British crews asked the foreigners why a mere baby should bring them running from so far.
In the crowd two-month-old Jaako Vaissi – brought by his Finnish parents who saw the circus on television and came out of curiosity – yawned hugely.
The waiting went on. Some lads came round distributing slices of pizza –the very pizzas, they insisted, which the new parents had ordered in the night before. “Too spicy” the photographers judged.
The Middletons came out after more than an hour, moved straight towards their cab, but instead swerved to the microphones. Their grandson was “absolutely beautiful”, they said: they could hardly say otherwise.
Then it all became dangerously exciting. There were cheers and laughter when a dark-haired young woman carrying a tiny baby wrapped in a white shawl came out: not that woman, not that baby.
Not long after a procession of dazzlingly, smartly turned-out hospital staff – nurses, receptionists, porters, cooks – marched down the street and took up position by the hospital door.
Something was clearly happening. And sure enough, Charles and Camilla arrived, stayed less than half an hour, and left beaming, Charles making an enigmatic gesture, optimistically interpreted as “somebody else is coming out soon”.
And so they did. The doors opened, two security men in near matching blue grey woolly pullies marched out followed by Kate in a blue dress, carrying Baby X peaceful and pink in his white shawl. William took the bundle with touching awkwardness before they crossed to the microphones. Both parents were glossy and pink cheeked, betraying no sign of a sleepless night, and there wasn’t a peep out of their son.
They went back inside but reappeared almost immediately, William this time carrying Baby X in a car seat, and mouthing “phew!” when he fastened it in the back seat of the Range Rover at his first attempt. As he drove them away the crowd sang “Congratulations” – excruciatingly badly. Baby Jaako would probably have loved all the excitement – but being a proper baby, and not a brand new media star, he’d long since gone home to bed.
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