The world’s media started counting down Thursday to the arrival of Britain’s royal baby when a press pen was erected outside the hospital where Prince William’s wife Kate is due to give birth.
William and Kate are expected to welcome their second child this month at the Lindo Wing, a private section of St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington, central London.
The hospital is where their first child, Prince George, was delivered in 2013 and the press area was being put up opposite the entrance where the future king and queen posed for their first photo with George.
Patients are charged more than £5,000 pounds for the first 24 hours of a delivery with an extra £1,000 for each additional night.
While Kate’s due date has not been made public, parking in the area has been suspended until April 30 for a “special event”, giving a clue to the likely timing.
As TV crews laid cables from satellite trucks and photographers arrived to claim their spots, fans of the royal family also came to look at the hospital and pose for photographs in front of the entrance.
Layla Peter, 16, had come from Frauenfeld in eastern Switzerland with her father, aunt and cousin for a holiday in London, with the Lindo Wing top of her list of sights to see.
“I want it to be a girl. A girl and a boy, it’s a good mix. A girl can wear dresses and it will be very pretty,” she said. “I would like it to be called Victoria – it will be a traditional name.”
It is thought that the royal couple still do not know if the baby will be a boy or a girl.
The birth will be announced when royal officials place a formal document with news of the delivery on an easel outside Buckingham Palace – as well as on the official Kensington Palace Twitter account.
William, who is training for a new job as an air ambulance helicopter pilot, will take two weeks of paternity leave to help care for the baby.
Local businesses near the hospital were hoping to profit from the tourists, journalists and police in the area for the new arrival.
“Definitely we expect extra business – chocolate, drinks, cigarettes,” said Joshi, who was manning the till at a souvenir shop selling royal postcards and Union Jack flipflops nearby.
“People are always excited to see any kind of royal family member.”