The delay while Prince Andrew and his wife Sarah decided what to call their baby daughter had commemorative mug makers tense, bookmakers in a lather and newspapers in a fever of speculation Wednesday.

The Times of London said bookmakers offered short odds on Annabel and Victoria. It said Victoria was more likely because of Queen Victoria.Andrew, the Duke of York, reportedly said several months ago that Annabel was his own choice for a baby girl.

She's only fifth in line to the throne, but from the hospital crowds to the headlines, the birth of Britain's newest princess has shown the royal family working a magic that defies even the experts.

"I can't think why there's such hysterical interest really," said Charles Kidd, editor of Debrett's Peerage, which chronicles Britain's blue bloods.

"But it just keeps increasing. . . . Maybe it's because there's been a leveling out of social classes - which is very good, but at the same time does make for rather boring reading," Kidd said in an interview.

"And these characters are supposed to be a bit bigger than life, or we're led to believe they are," he added.

And so they seemed Tuesday.

Almost all of Britain's dozen national newspapers splashed across their front pages the Monday night birth of the Princess of York to Queen Elizabeth's second son, Andrew, and his wife, Sarah.

Radio and television networks led bulletins repeatedly with the news, edging out the cease-fire agreement in the Iran-Iraq war.

Only the Communist Morning Star and the newest upscale newspaper, the 375,000-circulation Independent, ignored or paid little attention to the birth of the queen's fifth grandchild.

"We are not much interested in minor royals, but we did record the event," said John Price, news editor of the Independent, which gave the story three lines on page 2. "The Independent's view is that these people don't matter."

It was a lonely view.