Royal Baby Watch: Why the Crowds in London Care

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Sang Tan / AP

Members of media gather across from St Mary's Hospital Lindo Wing in London, on July 22, 2013.

At last, the summer event the world and the international media have been awaiting has arrived. The Duchess of Cambridge, formerly known as Kate Middleton, has gone into labor and the child who will one day be Britain’s monarch and head of state is expected to arrive soon.

But as the crowds outside St. Mary’s Hospital in Paddington, London, where the baby is due, continue to grow with throngs of well-wishers and the frenzied blanket media coverage continues, it raises an obvious question: why do people care so much about the royal baby, anyway?

TIME took to the streets outside of St. Mary’s Hospital and Buckingham Palace to ask the well-wishers what made them so excited about this royal birth. Many people, like 47-year-old Shaun Melass, a real estate broker from Pretoria, South Africa, on vacation in London, said part of the thrill came from being a part of a historical event and all the hoopla that went with it. “I love the pomp and the ceremony. I watched Charles’s wedding, Diana’s funeral, Kate and William’s wedding, President Obama’s inauguration, so I just love ceremonial things – and it is all part of history. South Africa is part of the Commonwealth, so the Queen is my Queen too. I am a royalist through and through.”

(MORE: TIME’s Complete Royal Baby Coverage)

Peter Davenport, an 82-year-old ex-captain of cadet units, from Richmond, southwest London, was also outside Buckingham Palace on Monday, waiting for news of the birth. “It is all tied back to tradition – it goes back for generations,” he says. “I’m a royalist, all the happenings in the royal family, the weddings, the funerals, the trooping of the color, all of those ceremonies – I love the ceremonial aspect. I am retired now, so that is all I have.”

Other people attribute the enthusiasm to a love for the current generation of royals: Kate Middleton, who’s routinely trotted out as a fashion icon, Prince William, once thought of as something of a heartthrob, and Prince Harry, known for his playboy antics and considerable charm, all provide plenty of tabloid fodder.

“Kate is a role model, she carries herself so well,” says Lucy Burgess, a 21-year-old public servant from the Austalian capital Canberra, who is traveling through Europe with her boyfriend. “It’s so exciting because it’s a new generation, it’s way more appealing to people our age, it’s so much more relatable.”

Dorie Overby, a 33-year-old HR rep from New York who has been working in London for a few weeks, says she called in late for work this morning so she could come down to the hospital. “I am close in age to Wills and Kate, so I’ve been here about a dozen times since I got here,” she says. “They are a wonderful modern couple, I just love them. Though I have never met them, I would love to. I am searching for Harry. Who knows, I might be the next princess.”

Overby wasn’t the only royal fan to tell TIME they longed to be treated like part of the royal family. Perry Hupp, a 78-year-old carpenter from Cambridge, has been camped outside the hospital for 12 days, sleeping on a bench at night and sporting a Union Jack hat during the day, is waiting to greet the royal couple as they leave the hospital with their new baby. “I am hoping to be at that front door when it comes out,” he says. “I am going to give William a card. I don’t think they will let me hold the baby, but it would be nice to do that.”

Others confessed to being enamored more with the mood of the moment than the royal family itself. Californian Norman Warkentin, 58, is in London on holiday with his wife, Cynthia Warren, and he thinks the excitement is palpable. “You can see it everywhere: cabbies, in trains, in pubs. Even people who couldn’t care less about the baby turn at the mention of the royal baby,” he says. “The whole country is glued in to an event like this, that’s the most exciting thing about this.”

Of course, any occasion in Britain wouldn’t be complete with its share of cynics as well. The Guardian’s website offers its readers a “Republican” button to click in order to read the news sans coverage of the royals. One disgruntled police officer, posted outside Buckingham Palace to patrol the crowds, tells TIME he’s not pleased about the royal arrival or the atmosphere. “I am not excited, I feel the same way I have for the past four days I have been doing this. I have been here for five hours today, it is hot, and it is sweaty, and there are a lot of people and I am not excited at all.”

with reporting by Katie Harris and Qhelile Nyathi / London

Read TIME’s previous feature about why the Royal Baby will be such a figure of global influence

Read TIME’s original 1982 story about the birth of Prince William

68 comments
alfasaude
alfasaude

@TIME Even prince Charles can't get 2 d throne,William, not even baby's Uncle. And evrybody is talking abt d heir to d throne.

Rajesh Kumar
Rajesh Kumar

you care thats why u r posting. And do care its a one day old only . And women shoud be klnd .

NiquetteKG
NiquetteKG

Three words: Do not care. Where is the real news at?

Grazia Davì
Grazia Davì

He's only a boy who is born in a royal family!!! Simply as millions of babies in the world but with a enormous difference: the family and the power. Cheers to every new born!

Petri47
Petri47

@TIME @TIMEWorld Because they live on the past. This new born will cost more money to all british taxpayers. Monarchy is past.

awsumanimal1
awsumanimal1

Oh stop this rubbish...who cares...yaaaaaawwwwn

drivven10
drivven10

Totally OBNOXIOUS the media TRYING to concinve us SO much how much we CARE.. ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ.

AND LMFAO@ ROYAL BABY.. this is just another baby..there is NO inherant royalty in this kid .. that socially contrived title is ludricrous and something which should be left to 5 yr olds playing grown up .. adults using the term are pathetic

coyotewm
coyotewm

I absolutely do not get it. 

I understand people eagerly anticipating the birth of their own baby, or that of a close relative or friend. But not this or the birth of any other public figure's child for that matter.

Note to those who feel differently: No need to attempt to convince me otherwise. I'm not interested in changing your mind so leave mine to me. 

mal5smith
mal5smith

@TIME I don't, this family costs the UK taxpayers millions and millions every year. Time to get modern and get rid of them...

CourtinAct
CourtinAct

@TIME @TIMEWorld Americans seem far more excited about it than Londoners - most of whom are bored rigid by the vacuous coverage.

nyambura98
nyambura98

@TIME For me personally, I've loved the Royals since Diana came into the picutre. Kate is a beautiful woman & she found her prince charming

laurasteele
laurasteele

@KrisKling I can't believe people are bothered by much of the world being excited about something so joyous - and actually pretty historical

fathimaa786
fathimaa786

@TIME some of us still believe in fairy tales so let it be will ya

CondonKen
CondonKen

@TIME @TIMEWorld it is history we care about celebrity's baby's and this baby will rule one of the Greatest country's in the free world

denaamarah
denaamarah

@TIME @TIMEWorld Who cares?!!! It's not like they have to worry about the baby when it comes, everything is on a plate for them! LOL

RitaZirpolo
RitaZirpolo

ROYAL BLOOD IS NOT THE ONLY IMPORTANT  PART OF THE EQUATION OR THE QUESTION WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN ASKED

RitaZirpolo
RitaZirpolo

THE NEXT ROYALTY AND THE COUNTRY PASSES THEIR (TAXES)ON TO THE ROYAL FAMILYTHE ROYAL FAMILY IS LIKE THE( GOVMT)THEY DON'T PAY FOR ANYTHING.THE COUNTRY FEELS LIKE THIS IS THERE FAMILY AND THEY TAKE CARE OF THEIR FAMILY

JUST AS THE ROYAL FAMILY PROTECTS THEM  

mommatiff
mommatiff

@TIME @TIMEWorld I think fewer people care than you indicate. The royal fanatics that care too much over shadowing all of us that don't.

juntaaw
juntaaw

@TIME i don't realy care enough it's doesnt make effort for my life,..

el_mar_y_yo
el_mar_y_yo

@TIME @TIMEWorld I don't care! Relevant stories of the World are a terrible thing to waste because of this kind of stupid kind of news!

Field_Trish
Field_Trish

@TIME @TIMEWorld People are dumb. There's actual important matters to discuss like oh I don't know health and education. Just a thought.

KrisKling
KrisKling

@EthansMommie08 Because we don't have a monarchy & royal family. It's just something fun to get caught up in. Nothing more, nothing less.