MEDIA tycoon Rupert Murdoch has tabled an opening bid of £2.5 million for the next royal baby.
Prince Edward and his wife Sophie, who are expecting their second child later this year, are understood to be reluctant to sell to Mr Murdoch and are hoping for a bidding war between the Australian-born billionaire and Britain's own Sir Richard Branson.
The News International boss sees a move into European royalty as the next logical step for his multi-national business.
If the bid is successful the child would be raised inside Murdoch's vast volcano headquarters in the South Pacific before being unleashed at the age of 18.
The royal teenager would then leave a trail of scandal across London, Gloucestershire and Verbier while giving weekly exclusive interviews to the Sun and the Wall Street Journal and capturing every moment on camera for Sky One and the Fox network.
The child, who would refer to Murdoch as 'Uncle Rupert', would also be given a column in the Sunday Times.
Paul Bratter, a media analyst, said: "He's been desperate to own a human being for years, but the right deal has never come up.
"Since the mid-80s he's tabled bids for Macauley Culkin, the creepy little kid from Sixth Sense and Frankie Muniz from Malcolm in the Middle.
"A royal baby is more adaptable and the merchandising opportunities are much stronger. This will be his legacy."