Britons Wait For News On Royal Baby

The imminent arrival of the future heir to the British throne is spawning gambling, baby products and guessing over names. There's been no official announcement about when the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's baby is due. It's believed to be Saturday, and the kingdom is prepared.

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There's just a little bit of anticipation in Britain right now. People are awaiting the arrival of the third in line to the throne. There has been no official announcement about when the Duchess of Cambridge is due, but if you believe the British tabloids are expert enough in baby matters, well, they peg the due date as tomorrow. NPR's Philip Reeves tells us how the kingdom is getting ready.

PHILIP REEVES, BYLINE: This is where Princess Diana gave birth to Prince William, at St. Mary's Hospital near Paddington Station in London. Thirty-one years on, the world's press is back. This time, they're awaiting the birth of William and Kate's son or daughter. The media's been camped out here for nearly two weeks. Everyone's hoping the waiting is almost over. They're not alone. Manufacturers of royal-related products are poised to swing into action.

Royal baby wines, ales, cuddly toys and much more are all on standby, awaiting blue or pink labels. Commemorative mugs made by Portmeirion Pottery in the English City of Stoke are almost ready to roll out. Marketing director Philip Atherton says it's just a question of filling in the baby's name, birthday and gender.

PHILIP ATHERTON: And within three to four days, we'll have products coming out of this factory with the new baby's name on them.

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REEVES: The British have been doing a lot of celebrating of late. They're still savoring last year's London Olympics and also the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. They went into overdrive a few days ago, when Andy Murray became the first Britain in nearly eight decades to win the Wimbledon Men's Singles crown. That might explain why they seem rather subdued as they await the arrival of the royal baby.

Subdued, yet still open to a little speculation.

RORY SCOTT: We've got money coming in for everything, from the baby's, you know, weight and the day, obviously, hair color, who's going to holding the baby outside of the hospital, which magazine's going to have the first exclusive pictures.

REEVES: Rory Scott from the bookmakers Paddy Power says most of the action concerns the baby's name. The favorites are predictable enough: James, George, Charlotte, Alexandra, Victoria and so on. Scott says there have also been some more exotic bets. A few people are hoping for a future king called hashtag.

SCOTT: We've taken money at hashtag at 500 to 1, so we'll have to wait and see.

REEVES: There will, of course, be no baby hashtag, nor will the royal infant be called Wayne or Nigel or Tracey. You see, the British are very particular about names.

RACHEL JOHNSON: In this country, your name is a detail signifier of your class, almost your education and background, as well, and antecedents.

REEVES: Rachel Johnson is a writer and a columnist for the Mail on Sunday.

JOHNSON: If you're royal, you use royal, accepted regal names like George and Charles and James and Victoria and Elizabeth and Catherine. These are names for kings and queens.

REEVES: Years ago, the English used to talk about something being U and non-U. U stands for upper class. Non-U is everyone else. You still sometimes hear these terms. They apply to names, too, says Johnson.

JOHNSON: And I would say that Barry is a non-U name.

REEVES: Trevor?

JOHNSON: Non-U.

REEVES: Sandra?

JOHNSON: Non-U.

REEVES: Sharon?

JOHNSON: Non-U.

MICHAL GORSKI: I love Duchess of Cambridge. I love the royal couple, the young royal couple. So I wish them good and the baby going to be healthy and well. Good luck to them.

REEVES: Michal Gorski has live in England for many years, sailing around in a houseboat - which, at present, is moored in a waterway close to the hospital where the royal baby will be born. Gorski says the English are not the only ones with foibles about royal names. He's Polish, yet he, too says the future queen of England could never be a Sharon.

GORSKI: Sharon, I think is too popular. I think it's too common. I think it's too common.

REEVES: You've inherited the English snobbishness.

GORSKI: Yeah, yeah, yeah, absolutely. Well, I'm not too...

REEVES: You've been here too long. You've been here too long.

GORSKI: I've been here too long, and I kind of - well, I understand the way. I understand the way.

REEVES: Philip Reeves, NPR News, London.

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