You have to admit, the Royal Family serves a purpose

But the subject of the new baby has been well and truly exhausted

Share

It is tempting to believe that the crowds which gathered outside Buckingham Palace were the manifestation of a modern phenomenon, the desire - bordering on obsession - to be part of something, to share a common experience, and to be present at the “big-ticket” event.

On one level, the birth of a child was a private joy for William Windsor and his wife, but that was only part of the story. Even in a small way, we had to try to make it about us, too. Yes, I went down to the Palace to see the easel, and I have the picture to prove it. I went, I queued, I snapped. Me, me, me. How very contemporary.

It is hardly surprising that we are driven by a psychological compulsion to claim for ourselves a bit part in that day's momentous event. In the hyperbolic language of modern media, we are constantly invited to regard any significant occurrence as something more profound, as history in the making. Andy Murray wins Wimbledon. It's an historic achievement. A Briton comes first in the Tour de France. History is made (even though a British rider won it the previous year). A baby is born. The Prime Minister tells us it is a major day in the history of the nation. It is natural that we should seek to become a tiny little pixel in this unfolding tableau.

However, I was surprised to see, in the midst of all the TV coverage on Monday evening, pictures of the scenes when Prince Charles was born 65 years ago which showed vastly bigger crowds outside Buckingham Palace. Some of this can be explained by the decline in popularity and relevance of the House of Windsor between then and now, but it was clear that - even in the pre-Internet, pre-multimedia age when society wasn't quite so fractured  - the British people still expressed an overriding need to assume a place in something wider, deeper, and bigger.

Republican or not, you have to admit that even today, like then, the Royal Family - elite, privileged and remote though they may be - fulfils an important role in terms of making large sections of the British population feel they are part of a social system that extends beyond their own front door.

All that said, we can be forgiven for finding it all too much. I was on a long car journey on Monday evening when the news broke, and I listened to the first hour or so of the coverage on Radio Five, the home of non-stop verbiage. It was, in its way, rather gripping radio, because you didn't know what banality was going to be trotted out next. The simple fact - a baby weighing 8lb 6oz was born at 4.24pm - was reheated, dissected, discussed and loaded with historical and political context until I found myself screaming silently.

“Is there anything more you can tell us?” was the desperate refrain from the anchor to the reporter in the field. And my favourite was the earnest royal correspondent, who, live from the easel, announced : “Buckingham Palace is often used at moments of royal celebration.” Well I never! Time to get on with our lives, I feel.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sheridan Maine: Accounts Assistant

£25,000 - £30,000: Sheridan Maine: Are you looking for a fantastic opportunity...

Neil Pavier: Commercial Analyst

£50,000 - £55,000: Neil Pavier: Are you a professionally qualified commercial ...

Loren Hughes: Financial Accountant

£45,000 - £55,000: Loren Hughes: Are you looking for a new opportunity that wi...

Sheridan Maine: Finance Analyst

Circa £45,000-£50,000 + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a newly qualified ac...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

I might be an MP, but that doesn't stop me fighting sexism with my breasts

Björt Ólafsdóttir
 

Daily catch-up: opening round in the election contest of the YouTube videos

John Rentoul
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor