When the Duchess of Cambridge, formerly known as Kate Middleton, emerges from the doors of the private Lindo Wing at St. Mary’s Hospital in central London with her newborn child, she’ll be met by a 60-ft.-long bank of photographers and cameramen standing four deep. They’ll be ready for her: just under two weeks before the baby’s officially announced due date of July 13, members of the press have already neatly marked out their positions on the pavement directly opposite the Lindo Wing with tape bearing the names of their various news organizations and photo agencies. Colored tape marks out squares on a large section of the sidewalk that has been defined by metal barriers — and which faces the door where Kate, William and their baby are due to make their first public appearance.
London-based freelance cameraman Kris Burzynski, 61, was one of the first to arrive. On the evening of June 30, he and his colleagues at the Associated Press claimed their position at the front of the tangle of cables, stepladders and microphones, and since then they’ve been working in shifts: at 10 a.m. on July 2, Burzynski was just finishing a 12-hour stint. He says the high points of his 32-year career have been his numerous assignments in war zones around the globe — a world away from his current assignment of standing for hours on end on a chilly London street. But he says the waiting around doesn’t bother him. “I’m a freelancer,” he says. “The longer I wait, the more money I make.”
For freelance photographer Kelvin Bruce, 45, who only covers official royal engagements, the royals are his livelihood. After making sure his position on the sidewalk is still reserved, he fires off some test shots with the 300-mm lens he’ll be using on the day. As for when that might be, he says he hasn’t heard any rumors: “God knows, to be honest.” But the waiting will all be worth it in the end, as after 20 years in the business, he says the best part of the job remains the moment he gets the perfect shot. “You put a lot of effort into it, and you’ll get it,” he says. But he acknowledges that in a situation like this, it will be hard to miss the shot. “Everyone will get the same picture,” he says. “You can’t not get it, really — you’re only standing on a step.” If you mess it up, he says, “you don’t deserve to get it.”
Not everyone milling around opposite the Lindo Wing is waiting to capture the moment the world first sees the royal baby. Kaya Mar, a Spanish-born artist who has lived in the U.K. for 40 years, specializes in political paintings — his past works have satirized the amount of money spent on the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and former Prime Minister Tony Blair’s relationship with the U.S. — which he takes to display at political conferences and other high-profile events. His latest work, which he brought from his home in Ealing, West London, to show off to the world’s press, is a 4-ft.-high portrait of Kate cradling a golden baby. Kate has a halo. “The woman has everything. If someone has everything, what do you give to them? So I gave her a halo, because she’s got everything,” he explains.
Tony Day, 39, a freelance cameraman who has covered royal events in the past, expects, from experience, to see more eccentrics like Mar over the coming days. “It’s not been too bad, so far. It’s still early yet for that kind of thing,” he says. Sitting on folding chairs, he and soundman John Harrison, 50, are passing the time by organizing a sweepstake on the date of the royal baby’s birth. Day, who is betting on July 15, is planning to go to a local bookmaker and get an odds sheet and tape it to a nearby concrete pillar. Harrison, also a freelancer and hoping for a long, profitable wait for the baby to arrive, is going for July 23 (“I’m optimistic,” he says). If he gets his way, then for the dozen or so members of the press camped opposite the Lindo Wing, it could be a long three weeks.