PRINCE Charles joked with crowds of onlookers in York as he visited the city while awaiting the birth of his first grandchild.

The prince visited York’s National Railway Museum and went on to see the work done to the Undercroft of York Minster and the Minster Stoneyard where he met its apprentices and specialist crafts people.

The prince, who was awaiting the announcement of the birth of his first grandchild after the Duchess of Cambridge was taken to hospital yesterday morning, joked after a member of the crowd in Deangate shouted congratulations, “Do you know something I don’t?”

It was also suggested by grandfather John Dowson that his daughter-in-law might be expecting triplets.

Mr Dowson said: “I just said ‘congratulations sir, it’s triplets’, as a joke and he saw the funny side of it, laughed and had a smile.” The Very Reverend Vivienne Faull, the Dean of York Minster, said: “We are proud and excited he has come, but especially today. In the life of his family, this is going to be an important day.

“It’s lovely to see him with our young people. We have some of the most skilled young crafts people in the country.”

At the NRM, Freddie Dickinson, five, from Church Fenton, near Tadcaster, handed the prince a toy giraffe named Sophie, which the prince said he would give to the baby. When the little boy said he thought the baby would arrive in six hours, the prince said it could be sooner.

The prince was visiting the museum in the wake of its Mallard 75 celebrations, which marked the 75th anniversary of the steam loco Mallard breaking the world speed record and which attracted 140,000 visitors.

He arrived on a steam train pulled by one of the Mallard’s sister locos.

He met former Lord Mayor of York and train driver, Bernard Bell, 89, of Woodthorpe, who told him how he had driven the Mallard in the 1950s.

“He was very interested to hear about it,” he said.

“I told him how I started in 1939 and became a fireman before later becoming the driver.”