As the world’s presses run red hot with the world-changing news that a young couple are expecting their first baby, it is probably fitting to refrain from indulging in anything other than the sort of obsequious, fawning praise that is usually reserved for the already born infants of friends and family. With that in mind, I’d like to take this opportunity to declare my undying loyalty to the House of Winsor and all their present and future representatives.
Nevertheless, as we erupt into a paroxysm of national ecstasy over the forthcoming appearance of yet another addition to the civil list, it is worth reflecting how, well, feudal all this feels. You don’t have to watch much Simon Schama (still less David Starkey) to be confronted with scenes of a glowing princess, a cheering populace, and a temporary improvement in the fortunes of whatever bunch of baronial big wigs backed the right pregnancy-horse that year.
Will we, like our Tudor forebears, line the streets to get a look at Kate and her regal bump? You bet we will. Will the monarchy use the demonstrable fact that it is able to reproduce as a way of boosting its popularity and authority? As sure as eggs is fertilized.
I have nothing against Wills or Kate, and I truly wish them well with their new family. I also happen to be something of a monarchist, and think that for all its faults the royal family is probably a net gain overall. However, I am disappointed (if not exactly shocked) that the primary criteria we use to judge the woman who is to be consort to out head of state is her fecundity.
I would much rather see a the nation go wild for a prince and princess that helped further our interests abroad and helped us achieve our objectives at home. Will and Kate may well end up being just that sort of royal couple. I hope they are. Having the nation go misty eyed at the prospect of a mini-prince won’t help them become it though.