What Royal Baby Says About Us

The really odd thing about “Royal Baby” – as yet unnamed – is the level of fuss about, well, not very much. There is no ceremony like the royal wedding, no procession to watch like the Jubilee. It is celebration of the symbolic value of the royals in excelsis. It is rejoicing in the existence of the as yet unknown. Moreover, it is an elevation of the mundane – as Private Eye‘s cover put it, “woman has baby”. My personal discomfort is that the celebration nothing more than the lingering power of the belief in hereditary superiority.  The boy has had to do nothing to achieve adulation and be seen as a suitable head of state.

It is not that the public simply believes in primogeniture. Many would rather see William as the next monarch, ahead of his father (Owen Jones tweeted that the “only way to solve it [is] a vote. We could let other candidates stand too…”). Rather it is the assumed quality of a child that troubles me, the inherent newsworthiness of his birth. A future elected world leader, a great scientist, a brilliant thinker or a quality English leg-spinner could have been born yesterday. It is not inevitable that any child will become one of those things, or that any child can. However, any child born yesterday should be able to strive to achieve their potential, to be given the same opportunities as any other. We shouldn’t anoint our future kings years before they rule, or place a child in line for any position before we know their capabilities.

William and Kate’s little boy could be a great; so could any of the hundreds of thousands of children born around the world yesterday. Let’s not forget how many will never get the chance, or have lives full of hardships unimaginable to the average Britain, let alone the Windsors. The Royal Baby frenzy has shown the deference to authority and genetics that leaves us perpetuating these inequalities. I wish the boy all the best in life – because he will have to grow up in the spotlight of a nation that regards him superior to his peers, no matter what he does. It’s exposed on the summit, and he cannot choose to go down.

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