LONDON, July 22, 2013 – In the U.K. it was being called the “Great Kate Wait,” as London woke up Monday morning to the news that Kate Middleton had gone into labor.
While Americans were sound asleep or preparing for bed, the Duchess of Cambridge awakened early feeling the long awaited pangs of joy that the newest member of England’s royal family had decided it was time to make an appearance.
As the day progressed crowds outside Buckingham Palace became larger. Journalists in St. James Park raced to their cameras to prepare for the next stage of the royal waiting game.
July is typically a busy tourist month in London, and it was evident that the influx of visitors was larger than usual as travelers waited in long lines to view London’s most popular attractions.
For the British media, much of the speculation surrounded whether the baby would be a boy or a girl. As each passing hour went by, the anticipation increased with well-wishers and curiosity seekers staking their claims primarily outside the royal palace or at the hospital.
The usual blasé British airs gradually yielded to uncontained interest as people kept track of the news throughout the city checking in with cab drivers, hotel doormen and restaurant waiters and waitresses about the latest news.
Many people chose to be at St. Mary’s hospital where the royal babe would be born. Others opted for Buckingham Palace where panel on the balcony facing the gateway entrance from the square would make an official announcement of the grand arrival
By early evening excitement was changing as locals began to return home without hearing the big news. There was also possibility that the arrival would be delayed if the baby came after Queen Elizabeth retired for the night. That scenario meant another long night of waiting because the Queen is the first to know and the announcement would not be made until morning.
It was the stuff perfectly suited for an old fashioned town crier to shout, “Hear ye, hear ye!” before then the joyous happy announcement came shortly before 9 p.m. London time.
The baby was born at 4:24 in the afternoon, but it took about four and a half hours to be made public.
It’s a boy! It’s a boy, people shouted in the streets in the carnival atmosphere that immediately erupted with the news.
In British terms it had the same feeling as the black and white smoke at the Vatican when a new pope is elected. The occasion of a royal baby is a far less frequent event than the election of a pope, which creates its own realm of enthusiasm and excitement.
Just down the Mall through the Marble Arch, the gateway to Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, which is always filled with traffic seemed more congested than usual bathed in the blue light to honor the new boy. A raucous celebration was already underway
The London Eye, the huge ferris wheel on the banks of the Thames was bathed in red, white and blue lights.
People came out their pubs into the streets singing Happy Birthday and raising their glasses in a toast.
Speculation changed from when the baby would arrive and whether it would be a boy or a girl to what his name would be. There was also a great deal of anticipation about when Prince William would make his first public appearance. William would stay with Kate and the baby throughout the night.. He was in the birthing room with his wife during the delivery.
It is expected the royal couple and child will leave the hospital on Tuesday.
For the moment however, it was party time in London and throughout Great Britain. Monday, July 22 was a night for joyous revelry.
Tuesday can wait. Brits will return to their familiar reserve by mid-week. But for now there is a new birth to celebrate and there is joy in the streets of London.
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