Excitement for royal birth builds outside London clinic

2nd May 2015, Comments 0 comments

Curious onlookers gathered outside a London hospital on Saturday to await the royal birth, joining media teams from around the world and a diehard group of royal superfans who have camped outside for days.

"I heard it on the radio, and I got up and came straight here. I can't wait!" said Michelle Lassiter, a 55-year-old charity worker who travelled from the town of Guildford near London with a fold-up chair.

"I've been on standby all week just in case!" she told AFP, waving a British Union Jack flag at the Lindo Wing of St Mary's hospital in Paddington where Prince William's wife Kate was admitted earlier.

Lassiter said that her family and friends thought she was "batty", but added: "It's history in the making. I hope to see them as they come out onto the steps."

Davina Johnson, 34, a new mother, came out of the clinic into the street in her slippers and dressing gown, wearing the plastic hospital tag on her wrist.

"They came to do the ward rounds this morning and said 'Kate's here'. So I rushed down," said Johnson, who has been in the central London hospital for the past week after giving birth prematurely.

"The other mums are just as excited as I am. The maternity ward is packed to capacity. Everybody is talking about it. Everybody is buzzing about it."

"We share the same midwives and, although they're all very professional, I bet they're hoping to be on that shift," she said.

Dozens of onlookers could be seen and more were arriving by the hour, including tourists looking to bring home a special memory from their holidays.

"We heard it on the news that she's in labour and we wanted to see," said Tiina Hamalanen, a 51-year-old from Finland, who was taking photos on her smartphone of the lines of dozens of photographers.

"It wasn't part of our (holiday) plans but we realised that it might happen so it's very exciting for us to be here at this moment," she said.

- 'She could be ages!' -

The first on the scene were around a dozen bleary-eyed royal supporters decked out in the colours of the British flag who have slept on benches and in tents near the hospital for nearly two weeks.

"I'm really excited," said John Loughrey, a Londoner who also attended the birth of Prince William and Kate's first child George in July 2013.

"There's always been royal fans, and we're the 21st century royal fans," the 60-year-old said.

"There isn't one like our royal family. That's why people come here from all over the world."

Many of the diehard supporters spoke of their devotion to Prince William's mother, Diana, who gave birth to William and his brother Harry in the same hospital and died in a car crash in Paris in 1997.

"I'd love to see a girl. Diana always wanted a little girl. I think William would love to fulfil her dream for her," said Kathy Martin, a 52-year-old originally from Australia, wrapped in a Union Jack flag.

"Words can't describe how I feel," she said.

As the country waited, a nurse walking out after her night shift warned onlookers: "She could be ages!"

But Lassiter said she was undeterred.

"I think it will come today. I hope so! But if I have to stay, I'll stay!"

© 2015 AFP

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