The Daily Mail web site has a surprise hit on its hands with a live stream from the hospital where the Duchess of Cambridge is in labor with the future king or queen of England.
For much of Kate Middelton’s 12 hours (and counting) of labor, global monarchists have been following an uninterrupted video of the closed door to the Lindo Wing of St Mary’s Hospital in London.
Coming from a country where five-day cricket matches and Susan Boyle are major spectacles, the pure tedium of the stream has somehow transformed into a riveting international obsession. If you haven’t been watching since daybreak, here’s what you missed.
Police officers from the Royalty Protection Branch are stationed at the five steps to the unassuming double doors, which sit under a period fan light. With its iron railings and white-paned windows, the effect is rather like classic pictures of Number 10 Downing Street, the British Prime Minister’s residence. And the bobbies are obligingly wearing their distinctive, egg-shaped helmets, which adds a certain tourist appeal.
What the police have not done is close the road outside the hospital, which is a little mystifying. There’s not much traffic, but I have seen at least one black London cab slide by, filled with tourists (or possibly journalists) taking pictures. If this were New York, there would be Gray Line buses lined up around the block.
The Daily Mail’s camera is positioned in the tightly-packed media scrum which has been present outside the hospital for much of July, as the only information provided to the press about the Duchess’s due date was the month. So the press corps has had 22 days to grumble over the proverb, “punctuality is the courtesy of kings.”
In one exciting moment, the camera panned back to show a pigeon strolling by on the sidewalk. But the drama was short-lived.
Otherwise the stream shows photographers darting into the street to take pictures of the other media, and an occasional commoner coming in or out. Muscular orderlies can occasionally be glimpsed, in short-sleeved scrubs. But Posh Spice has not arrived clutching a Mylar balloon and a fat little teddy. Pippa has not turned up in a party bus.
Now it is evening and the light is fading. At 91 degrees, it has been the hottest day of the year so far in London, and the Brits are noticeably wilting. Some attractively-cast Scouts were just allowed to pose for a photo-op outside the hospital carrying a backpack that says “HRH On Board.”
But the real crowd is gathering outside Buckingham Palace, waiting for an easel to be planted behind the gates, announcing the birth. Perhaps they know what the Daily Mail does not; that when Kate produces her little prince or princess, she will not wrap up the bundle and immediately leave via the front door of the Lindo Wing of St Marys Hospital.
But until then we wait, and more than just a little hopeful, we watch. Look, there’s another pigeon.
UPDATE: At 3.56pm EST, a royal pirate (at least that’s what he looked like) appeared in front of the hospital door wearing lace, a red coat over breeches and a tricorn hat with feathers. He rang a hand-bell, did the “hear-ye, hear-ye” thing and read the proclamation announcing the birth of a son from a scroll. It was totally worth the wait.