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Monday, July 22, 2013

The Five Stages of the Royal Baby Wait

On royal-baby watch outside the Lindo Wing of St. Mary’s hospital in central London, where journalists have dutifully waited for more than two weeks, one was tempted to think of the past two and a half weeks as the five stages of boredom: denial (“It might be born early?”), anger (“I wish this baby would hurry up!”), bargaining (there was plenty of betting in the hospital yard on anything from the baby’s gender to its name, likely godparents and birth weight), depression (“this is soul-destroying,” one photographer remarked darkly after yet another day without news) â€" and finally, going into Week 3, acceptance mixed with a good dose of British wit.

In recent days, a number of bright-colored stickers have gone up on the metal barriers fencing in the television cameras and photographers-in-waiting perched on aluminum ladders of varying heights: “Please don’t feed the photographers!” one hand-written orange sign read. Underneath a plastic clock on a concrete pillar inside the enclosure a pink sign proclaimed “The Great Kate Wait.” Some optimistic hacks even appeared to be preparing for life-after-the-royal-birth. “Post-partum-ladder sale,” a long pink sticker announced on the back part of the make-shift scaffolding. “All prices exclude VAT,” or value-added tax. Some ladders bore star-shaped price tags: “Only 4,300 pounds!” a particularly tall one said, and: “As seen on TV!”

One television presenter was seen knitting in between her regular stand-ups, while several sound engineers and camera operators read travel adventure books and mystery novels. For many photographers, used to traveling to war zones, this assignment was plainly “dull.” But as one remarked, he had gotten a tan in the unusual July heat and was getting to see his own children every night. Many agreed with Queen Elizabeth II, who said this week that she hoped the baby would arrive “soon” because she wanted to go on vacation.

A cousin of the queen, Margaret Rhodes, might have spoken for many here when she was asked in an interview with CNN last week whether she was excited about the impending royal birth. “Not really,” Ms. Rhodes answered. “Well, you know, everyone has babies, and it’s lovely but I don’t get wildly excited about it.”