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The millions worldwide who are awaiting the birth of Prince William and Kate Middleton's royal baby have been on a roller coaster ride this week, and as yet there is still no news of an impending birth.  The story, which has been dubbed "The Great Kate Wait," is subject to a great deal of formality, privacy, and protocol, in addition to intense media scrutiny.

The week began with a hint from Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall--stepmother to Prince William and wife to soon-to-be-grandfather Prince Charles.  During an appearance at a hospice facility Monday, she said of the birth, "We are all just waiting by the telephone. We are hopeful that by the end of the week he or she will be here."

By Wednesday, the speculation grew further when Queen Elizabeth herself mentioned the timing of the birth, saying to a group of children she was visiting in northern England, "I would very much like it to arrive. I'm going on holiday."  It should be noted that the Queen doesn't travel to her Balmoral estate in the Scottish highlands until the end of next week.

Then there is the question of where the royal couple is awaiting their bundle of joy--and where he or she will be born.  Most expect the birth to take place at the private Lindo Wing of St. Mary's Hospital, next to Paddington Station in London, where Prince William and his brother Prince Harry were born born.  But the couple is reportedly waiting out the last days at the Middleton family's home in the town of Bucklebury, in Berkshire which is about an hour's journey from London.  Reportedly, a contingency plan is in place for the birth to take place at Royal Berkshire Hospital, where Kate was born, if labor progresses too quickly to make it back to London.  That hospital is less than a half hour's drive from the Middleton's house.

Now that the week is drawing to a close without any concrete news, the debate has shifted to the Duchess of Cambridge's due date, which initially was reported to be "in July," later specified by CNN to be July 13, and later clarified by "a well placed source" to Britain's Telegraph newspaper to be July 19.

Stay tuned to PNN and for all the royal baby news as it unfolds.

Image: The Duchess of Cambridge, via Featureflash /