Like Hugh Grant hiding behind that blue door in Notting Hill, it knows it will have to come out in the end.
Probably, it’s had a little glimpse outside, at the flashbulbs and the microphones and the shimmering hair of the news anchors, and slammed the Royal cervix shut again in blind panic. But it cannot hide forever. We will simply not allow it.
We journalists are regularly in receipt of requests, forwarded by the Press Complaints Commission, to say that the latest actor, footballer, television presenter or Big Brother nobody wishes to be left alone in those precious few days after the birth of a child. Occasionally, they explain that, though x accepts the price they must pay for their wealth and fame, x - 1 has made no such pact with whichever celebrity magazine it is, and, at least for the time being, has a right to privacy.
They are requests that, by and large, are granted. Imagine that first fearful drive home with the baby, pursued by paparazzi on motorbikes. The public wouldn’t stand for it.
Except, of course, in this case. Bring on the royal baby. It’s diddy little fingers and thumbs, its scrunched up eyes and squishy nose are public property. Unlike James Corden’s or Holly Willoughby’s or Fearne Cotton’s or whomever else’s, this one belongs to us.
In a few contractions from now, a whole international industry will kickstart into a frenzy of action, with its long lenses, and its hidden cameras, crouching in bushes, tearing around the streets, desperate for a stolen glimpse of this day old thing that it can spread to every corner of the world in a nanosecond.
It is a curious phenomenon, that those who purport to love the Royals wilfully inflict so much misery upon them. One truly horrifying company is renting out Royalist decorated rooms in a building opposite the hospital in Paddington, complete with “state-of-the-art long-distance telescope” and “professional binoculars.” (With an unobstructed view of a brick wall, it later transpired, though it was apparently only supposed to be “a bit of fun.”)
Wills and Harry and Princess Beatrice and the rest don’t deserve our sympathy for the goldfish bowl lives they live. They could walk away, and with far greater ease than Edward VIII did in the 1930s. As an 18-year-old, Prince William would regularly become furious with the press, who would not let him, he said, “be a normal person.” He still could. He chooses not to.
We should hardly be surprised by the way The Only Way is Essex and Made in Chelsea have slipped so effortlessly into the national psyche. For centuries most of us have been devotees of the grandest most moronic reality show of them all. We send the cameras in to their weddings, their funerals, and now for all intents and purposes, their births as well. The make-ups and break-ups, the scandals, the Christmas specials, every ingredient is there.
But for now, this tiny baby, currently hiding away where only the ultrasound cameras can see it, has not signed signed the contract. Its evident reluctance to be born is a promising sign. There’s still a slim chance it might be the first ever member of its family to believe in that radical thing called fairness, and quietly walk away. Of course, it probably won’t, but until such a time, how ashamed we should all feel that we won’t extend to it and its parents the same brief dignity we customarily do to the clowns off Big Brother.
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