Katie Pick had been following every story on the Duchess of Cambridge’s pregnancy for weeks and on Sunday she decided to head to St. Mary’s Hospital on the off chance this would be the day the baby arrived.
“I love the Royal Family,” Ms. Pick said as she stared at the front door of the hospital’s private Lindo Wing, where the Duchess is expected to deliver her baby any day. “I had to come here. I just thought, maybe today.”
The drab, brown-brick Lindo Wing with its plain front door has become London’s hottest tourist attraction in recent days as the birth of the royal baby draws ever close, with a steady stream of curiosity seekers, royal family fanatics and a couple of protesters joining the large media crowd stationed outside the building.
“Amazing,” a tourist from Poland said in halting English as he took a picture of the rows of photographers and television crews. “Big show,” said his daughter.
Not long after they left, five sisters from Durham, England, jumped out of a cab, put on their sunglasses and posed for pictures in front of the doorway. The sisters took off just as quickly and were followed by a woman who insisted on taking a picture of her two small dogs decked out in Union Jacks. The dogs dutifully posed for several minutes in the hot sun as media from around the world filmed them as if they were celebrities.
On the sidewalk across the street Terry Hutt, 78, has been camped out on a bench for nearly two weeks, dressed largely in Union Jack clothing and sporting hand-made signs of congratulations for the royal couple. Next to him Margaret Tyler, a diehard royalist, sat on another bench holding a clutch of pink and blue balloons that say “It’s a Boy” or “It’s a Girl.” Just down from her John Loughrey has pitched a small tent and plans to stay put until the baby arrives. As Mr. Loughrey stood for yet another photo on Sunday, two women protesting forced adoptions by British social welfare agencies strolled by in bright yellow T-shirts blaring slogans. They each had a cigarette and left.
The spectacle brought a smile to the face of Lori Sutton, who is from Jacksonville, Fla., and is on a two-week visit to London with her husband Jim. They stood for a while outside the Lindo Wing snapping pictures of Mr. Hutt and the throng of photographers.
Ms. Sutton said they came to the hospital largely at the behest of their daughter, Amanda Ruffin, who is back home in Orlando and is expecting her first baby in November. Ms. Ruffin has become enthralled by the royal birth and is following every update on U.S. television. “She is about the same age as Kate,” explained Ms. Sutton. “So we can kind of relate.” Mr. Sutton seemed bemused by all the media attention and hype surrounding the pending birth. “I actually thought it would be busier,” he said looking at the multitude of TV crews.
For those who can’t make it to the Lindo Wing two British newspapers – the Daily Telegraph and the Sun – are live-streaming a shot of the front door on their websites. Although it can be pretty dull viewing, The Sun said its “Royal Baby Monitor” attracted 150,000 viewers in its first 24 hours.
With so little happening, it’s hard to understand why so many people have decided to make the trek to the ordinary-looking building in the midst of the busy St. Mary’s hospital complex, which remains in full operation. “I guess it’s because everyone can relate to [the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge],” said Nina Tetra, who joined Ms. Pick outside the hospital. “They are in touch with England today. They are in tune with our generation.”