Britain Impatiently Awaits Royal Baby Name
Thrilled Britons were betting on baby names on Tuesday after Prince Harry and Meghan welcomed the royal family's first known mixed-race child.
Ending days of suspense, a smiling Harry announced Monday the birth of the couple's first child -- a son who will be seventh in the long line of British succession.
It was a rare piece of good news for a nation exhausted by its endless fight over Brexit, a chance to celebrate royal traditions -- this time with a young American twist.
"I've been here six days. I slept out four days," John Loughrey, a self-proclaimed royal super fan told AFP outside Windsor Castle, where the couple wed last year.
Meghan, a 37-year-old TV star with partial African American ancestry, has created a fresh buzz around the royal family.
"I want to see how he'll look. As Meghan is mixed race, I'm curious to see" the baby, said Zahra Kibue, 34, who lived in Kenya before moving to England a few years ago.
"It's very important," said Kibue. "The monarchy is saying, the door is open, anybody could be of royal kinship."
The "power couple", as the BBC dubbed them Monday, have bucked tradition since their wedding last May.
Markle made waves in Britain by closing her own car door -- a task usually performed by aides.
Meghan and Harry announced the birth of the seven-pound, three-ounce (3.26-kilogram) baby -- "It's a BOY!" -- to their 6.4 million followers on Instagram.
Perhaps most notably, Meghan decided to ignore past practice by keeping the birth private and well away from the media's eyes.
Tabloid newspapers published unconfirmed details on how the night of the birth unfollowed.
- Sunrise baby -
Most UK media assumed Monday that Meghan had opted for a home delivery.
But not The Daily Mail, which said on Tuesday that "overdue Meghan's home birth dream was dashed as she was secretly whisked to a London hospital on Sunday by Harry and his Scotland Yard security team".
The Sun, a competing tabloid, breathlessly reported that Meghan was a "week overdue" and ended up being secretly rushed to a £15,000-a-night ($20,000, 17,500-euro) London hospital before giving birth "at exactly sunrise".
The Daily Mail claimed that the birth came precisely three minutes later than that.
Either way, Meghan is now likely to take charge of raising Britain's celebrity baby, royal biographer Penny Junor told AFP.
"Most mothers call the shots and I think the days of royal children being whisked away to royal nurseries and 'nanny knowing best' is long gone," said Junor.
"I think we'll see very little of this child."
- 'UNUSUAL name' -
Britain has a long and proud history of betting on just about everything, and the new arrival had the bookies busy for months.
"It's been crazy," Amy Jones, a spokeswoman for Paddy Power bookmakers, told AFP in Windsor.
"Now that the baby has arrived, everyone is backing the name Alexander."
UK royal names are normally chosen from a relatively restricted pool of those used by past kings and queens.
But Meghan and Harry, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, are anything but normal royals.
"Meghan Markle and Prince Harry to choose UNUSUAL name for baby that UNIFIES the U.S. and UK," The Daily Express wrote, sparking a wild guessing game on Twitter filled with puns and jokes.
- 'Broken families' -
The baby news was greeted warmly in the United States: on the border with Canada, the Niagara Falls waterfall was lit up in blue.
Harry and Meghan received congratulations from former U.S. first lady Michelle Obama -- but not U.S President Donald Trump, who UK media said was still fuming at not being invited to the wedding.
Meghan's estranged father Thomas did not attend either, creating a lingering scandal.
"All newborn babies bring entire families happiness and joy -- they can even bring broken families back together again," Thomas told The Sun.
Patrick Adams, who played Meghan's husband in the U.S. TV series "Suits," sounded more jovial.
"Just heard that the world just got heavier by 7 pounds and 3 ounces," Adams tweeted.