IT was billed as the day that Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, would give birth to the future monarch.
But, as the last hours of Saturday 13 July ticked by, it seemed increasingly unlikely that the royal baby would make its eagerly-awaited appearance on the day marked in royal-watchers’ calendars.
Perhaps it was the heat that put off the future prince or princess. Yesterday was, after all, the hottest day of the year in London, with temperatures hitting 32C.
Or perhaps the royal-watchers simply got their dates muddled. After all, Buckingham Palace has never said when the baby is due, although it has been reported that Kate’s mother, Carole Middleton, has said the baby will be a Leo, suggesting it is due after 22 July.
Rumours of an imminent arrival escalated on Friday after it emerged the Duke of Cambridge had left his RAF base and headed to London where his wife is due to give birth.
The father-to-be is now at Kate’s side as they prepare for the arrival of their first baby.
The Queen, Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, are this weekend attending the four-day Coronation Festival at Buckingham Palace, celebrating 60 years since Elizabeth II was crowned.
The event began on Friday night with a glittering gala and concert by Katie Melua, The Feeling, and mezzo-soprano Katherine Jenkins for which the Royal Family were joined by Carole, Michael and Pippa Middleton. Presenters, cameramen, photographers and producers from all over the world remained camped outside the St Mary’s Hospital Lindo Wing in Paddington, where the royal baby is set to be delivered.
Mike Amor, from Seven Network Australia, was among those in position outside the private hospital last night.
“We’re in the middle of a city and country that’s expecting a future prince or princess – it’s very exciting”, he said. “We’ll be here around the clock when she goes inside, so I’ll be very bleary eyed, but it’s going to be exciting.
“You have to remember this is going to be the future King or Queen of Australia so there’s a lot of excitement about this.”
He said it is understood that Kate will appear outside with William and their newborn, as Princess Diana did with her first-born in 1982.
“I don’t think we’ll see Kate going in but we’re all anticipating her coming out, much in the same way Diana came out with William”, he said.
Yusuke Ibi, from Tokyo Broadcasting System, flew from Japan for the eagerly-anticipated event,
“They want to see the face of the royal baby”, he said of Japanese viewers, “and of Katherine – she’s really popular in Japan”.
Kate kept up her public engagements until last month. However, she missed the society wedding of the Duke of Northumberland’s daughter, Lady Melissa Percy, to Thomas van Straubenzee in Alnwick, Northumberland, which was attended by princes William and Harry. She also stayed away from Wimbledon.
William and Kate’s engagement was famously put out on Twitter, but traditionalists will be pleased to learn that a formal notice of the birth will be placed on an easel in the forecourt of Buckingham Palace.
Immediately after the birth the line of succession will be revised. The child will become third in line behind Prince Charles and William, with Harry bumped down to fourth.
It is thought unlikely William and Kate will name the child on the day of its birth.
Charles and Diana waited around a week before announcing their son would be called William, Prince Andrew and Fergie took two weeks over Princess Beatrice and the Queen took a whole before giving Prince Charles his name.
Alexandra is top pick for a girl with George and James favourites for a boy. The Royal Mint may have hinted at the most likely name in the event of a boy. It is preparing to bring out a £5 silver coin to mark the birth bearing an image of St George and the dragon, a silver version of a gold sovereign designed by Benedetto Pistrucci, which the Mint described as a “masterpiece”.
It intends to give lucky silver pennies to the parents of every child born on the same date as the new prince or princess.