In deference to his media-wary family, the Prince of Cambridge might have known better not to make his arrival in that silliest of all seasons for the northern hemisphere’s major media – when the summer heat bleaches all discernment from the calendars of world’s assignment desks.
For days, scores of reporters from top newspapers, magazines and broadcasting outlets have braved near scorching temperatures (the highest since 1766, by some accounts) to wait outside St. James and Kensington Palaces in London for news – any news – of a royal birth. It finally came in the waning hours of July 22: William and Kate’s healthy son weighed in at eight pounds, six ounces. And right on cue, in unison, the talking heads of the Fourth Estate lost their tiny, little minds.
The following day, the Globe and Mail devoted most of its front page and four of its inside pages to the, as yet, unnamed successor to the throne. Writing from the Sceptered Isle, Paul Waldie framed the blessed event with language not seen since the palmy days of empire: “The newborn King of Britain, Canada and 14 other realms has already brought a renewed sense of confidence in the Royal Family and the United Kingdom. . .In a month that has already seen the economy show signs of life and British success in so many areas. . .the birth of a future monarch only adds to the country’s feeling of renewal. . .The mood all day was festive, almost carnival-like.”
That’s a helluva burden to lay on the shoulders of one so small. Still, it behooves us to know that His Royal Highness George, or James, or Beauregard, or whomever was welcomed with a 62-gun salute, that his “delivery was handled by two trusted physicians” and that “the new. . .boy. . .will be receiving a gift of Canadian-themed children’s books from Governor-General David Johnston and his wife.” (Apparently, the G-G’s spouse also lacks a first name).
Alternatively, it’s fair to note, not all were rendered delirious by the news. The Globe’s Michelle McQuigge quoted Tom Freda, director of Citizens for a Canadian Republic, before the birth, thusly: “There will be hundreds of Canadian future citizens born that same day as this royal baby, yet regardless of how smart, selfless, had-working and proudly Canadian (these children) may one day become, because they were not born in the right entitled family, (they are) constitutionally barred from ever becoming Canada’s head of state. In the 21st century, this is an outrage.”
His is, almost certainly, the minority opinion. The rest rejoice, certain about the symbolic majesty of the moment.
So sayest Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper, in a prepared statement: “The arrival of the newest member of the Royal Family, a future Sovereign of Canada, is a highly anticipated moment for Canadians given the special and warm relationship that we share with our Royal Family. . .Laureen and I send our best wishes of health and happiness to the new parents as they embark on this exciting chapter in their lives.”
Adds U.S. President Barack Obama: “Michelle and I are so pleased to congratulate the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on the joyous occasion of the birth of their first child. We wish them all the happiness and blessings parenthood brings. The child enters the world at a time of promise and opportunity for our two nations. Given the special relationship between us, the American people are pleased to join with the people of the United Kingdom as they celebrate the birth of the young prince.”
Ultimately, though, among all the luminous well-wishers of the high, mighty and privileged class, only British Prime Minister David Cameron seems able to articulate the true significance of the event: “It is an important moment in the life of our nation, and I suppose above all it is a wonderful moment for a warm and loving couple who have got a brand new baby boy.”
Exactly. This is not about a monarch, a head of state, a hope for the disgruntled masses. It’s about a boy, whom, it’s safe to say, was the only subject on Kate’s mind when she and her husband deftly ducked the media horde, in the wee hours of Monday morning, to shepherd him safely into a breathlessly waiting world.