THE world’s media were last night camped by the London hospital where the Duchess of Cambridge is due to give birth.
Photographers from around the world have been gradually congregating at St Mary’s Hospital, Paddington, to await the latest royal birth.
Bookmakers were preparing to breathe a sigh of relief after it looked as though the baby was not going to make appearance on one of the most heavily tipped royal due dates.
A flurry of betting activity for the baby to be born on Sunday July 14 forced bookmakers to shorten the odd to 4/6.
However, with today and tomorrow also strongly fancied as days that William and Kate will become parents for the first time, the bookies might still be forced to pay out.
Yesterday, while it is thought that Kate relaxed at her parent’s home, 53 miles from London in Bucklebury, Berks, William was back in the saddle as he took part in his second polo tournament of the weekend.
The future king chatted to well-wishers during breaks in play at the Jerudong Trophy at Cirencester Park Polo Club in Cirencester, Gloucestershire.
Officials have said that the baby is due mid-July, but have not released an exact due date.
The birth will be announced by a bulletin posted on a wooden easel outside Buckingham Palace. The birth of William’s father, Prince Charles, was announced the same way in 1948.
Moving with the times, there will be a simultaneous announcement on Twitter, so millions around the world can get the news within seconds.
Speculation heightened that a royal birth was imminent on Friday after it emerged that Prince William had left his RAF base and headed to London to be at his wife’s side.
Ever since the Duchess of Cambridge’s pregnancy was announced, speculation about the due date and sex of the royal baby has been rife.
Rupert Adams, spokesman for William Hill, said that the most fervent betting has been on the name of the baby. Alexandra, Charlotte, Elizabeth and George are among the top contenders so far, he said.
Royal friends and Clarence House have imposed total secrecy surrounding the birth of the baby, who will be third in line to the throne after Prince Charles and Prince William.
Kate hopes for a natural birth in the Lindo wing of St Mary’s Hospital – the same place the late Diana, Princess of Wales, gave birth to William and brother Harry.
Obstetrician Marcus Setchell – who has been gynaecologist to the Queen since 1990 and delivered Sophie Wessex’s two children – will deliver the baby. Dr Setchell, 70, had been due to retire but agreed to deliver her baby after treating Kate for extreme morning sickness in early pregnancy.
If Kate and William have a daughter she will be the first in modern history to become Queen by the right of being the first-born – historically, the first-born male automatically acceded to the crown.
Once the future king or queen has been delivered, the new parents will ask private secretary Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton to deliver the news to the Queen by telephone.
Senior royals including Prince Charles, and Carole and Michael Middleton, who will all become grandparents for the first time, will also be informed.
Although the baby’s name will be a mystery until his or her birth, palace officials have confirmed its title. The child will be known as His/Her Royal Highness Prince/Princess (baby’s name) of Cambridge.