You have to admit, the Royal Family serves a purpose

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


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

Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

Ashdown Group: Editor-in-chief - Financial Services - City, London

£60000 - £70000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Ashdown Group: Junior Application Support Analyst - Fluent German Speaker

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

Ashdown Group: Accountant - London - £48,000 - 12 month FTC

£40000 - £48000 per annum + bonus + benefits: Ashdown Group: International Acc...

Day In a Page

Read Next

If I were Prime Minister: I'd shrink the gap between the highest and lowest paid

Marina Warner

Sorry Britain, but nobody cares about your little election – try being relevant next time

Emanuel Sidea
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power