After months of anticipation and fevered speculation a baby boy was born on 22 July 2013 at 4.24pm weighing in at a healthy 8lb 6oz. Not just any baby but His Royal Highness Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge, third in line to the throne.
In the build up to the birth, photographers, tv crews, journalists and royal fans gathered outside the Lindo Wing in Paddington; the media staking out their spots with stepladders and tape as they waited for the Duchess of Cambridge to give birth and appear on the steps of the hospital for the ‘money shot’. The first royal baby born in an era of social media and round the clock news. Associated Press had their camera man in place for three weeks (8 hour shifts) to be joined by hundreds of others keen to get their glimpse of the new arrival. A veritable media circus of epic proportion – newspaper circulation and tv ratings rocketed.
Staunch royal supporters John Loughrie and Terry Hutt camped outside the hospital for 9 and 12 days respectively. With nothing much going on (apart from the odd look alike appearance and donations of food from Krispy Creme donuts and other local businesses) they became celebrities in their own right as they were photographed and interviewed by the world’s media.
Stepladders and sun cream were flying out of the local shops as photographers braved the heat, torrential rain finding ways to cope with the inevitable boredom. They passed the time sticking flourescent tags on their stepladders ‘If it’s news it’s news to us!’, ‘Here all week £’, ‘OK bored now’ and entering into their own royal baby sweepstake.
Meanwhile the world’s broadcast media struggled to find anything new to say as the Royal Household released sparse statements – ‘things progressing as normal’ as Kate went into labour. The 24 hour news coverage was getting desperate. Sky discussing the merits of coconut water as something the Kate might be drinking and named a couple of countries where coconuts are grown, CNN was interviewing women in labour and stopping pregnant women on the street (yes really), and midwives, astrologers, royal fans and a token republican (BBC) were grilled on everything from possible names and their significance to the details of labour. Simon McCoy of the BBC commented ‘Never have so many people gathered together in one place with absolutely nothing to say’.
Another wait, and at 8.30pm the doors to the Lindo Wing opened and a document was delivered to an easel (one can buy a replica for £199) on the forecourt of Buckingham Palace announcing the birth and prompting an estimated 23,000 tweets. Scoop of the day has to go the Daily Mail who reported that two pizzas were delivered to the hospital at 8.45pm by royal protection officers. No details of the topping.
The following day it was ‘showtime’ with gun salutes from the Tower of London and Green Park (broadcast in full), ‘Congratulations’ was played by the band on the forecourt of Buckingham Palace as members of the public queued to photograph the easel.
Meanwhile back at the hospital, helicopters hovered overhead as ‘the moment’ on the steps drew closer. Will she leave today? The Daily Mail gave us another exclusive – photos of the royal hairdresser arriving (Rob Todd photographer again who got the pizza boxes) along with details of the baby seat. Some photographers had gone without food for fear of losing their post and missing ‘the moment’. Jumping on my bike with camera and no stepladder I arrived at St Mary’s in the nick of time to catch Charles and Camilla leaving the hospital shortly followed by THE BABY. No ‘money shots’ for me – couldn’t see a thing – not even through a chink in the stepladders but an incredible scene.
After the moment everyone had been waiting for which was over in a matter of minutes – just long enough for afew opportunist thieves to steal some camera bags – the media flew into action, downloading their photographs and wiring to the world’s press.
Within minutes dress designer Katie Packham’s website crashed and copies of the dress were being made. It had spots on it which made for a nice link to the green spotty dress worn by Princess Diana who was photographed on the same spot after the birth of William.
And it didn’t end there… The day after the birth the media were still broadcasting outside Kensington Palace in their masses pouring over the photos and souvenir newspaper editions. When asked what they were doing still there an ABC Australia reporter commented ‘Supply and demand’.
After a visit from HM The Queen, the royal couple with baby George departed for the Middleton home in Bucklebury (news reporters stating that they weren’t sure if they would have taken the A40 or M4!). Champagne was flowing in the Old Boot Inn in Bucklebury where Derek the horse is a regular.
Leaves me wondering about the once respectable profession of the journalist and the state of our media. It is indeed a happy and significant news story and according to Jonathan Prynn (consumer editor Evening Standard) the birth will help boost economic confidence. It certainly will add to the value of the royal brand estimated at 53 billion.
Now time to return the attention to other more pressing issues? The Mirror tells of ‘Heartbroken Nigella Comforted by James Bond’ and The Sun’s ‘Bieber’s Spit Hits Fan’ front page exclusive.
There’s still time to place a bet on who the godparents might be. William Hill has David Beckham at 250-1.