We rejoice that the Duchess of Cambridge has given birth to her first child, a son. There is no event more joyous than the arrival of a new-born, carrying a family’s hopes for the future. Something wonderful has happened. Life has been renewed.
Even for a royal couple this will probably be the most life-changing and life-affirming experience they will have. Let the Duke and Duchess accept all the help that will surely be offered, but let it not be distancing. A curse of modern life is the way we contrive so often to shield ourselves from reality. If the stresses and strains of parenthood, as well as the joys, are put at a distance , a vivid experience is lost.
But as a royal birth, one moreover that starts a new generation of the Royal Family, the significance of the occasion goes beyond the personal to the constitutional. The new prince is third in line to the throne, securing the succession of the House of Windsor far into the future. Nothing is more debilitating to the hereditary principle than uncertainty. From Charles to William to the new prince, the monarchy looks safer than ever. While this will not please everyone, it must also be recognised that, as an institution, and largely thanks to the sagacity of the Queen, it has recovered much of its once-flagging popularity.
Since The Independent was founded nearly 27 years ago, it has given less royal coverage than its competitors. This was deliberate. We decided to cover only what was constitutionally important and leave the rest alone. The minor royals would get scant coverage, if any – for which they should be grateful. But if the continuation of the Windsor line into the next generation is not a constitutional event, it would be hard to define what is.
It is sometimes said that France is really a monarchy in the clothes of a republic whereas Britain is the opposite, essentially a republic disguised with the garments of a constitutional monarchy. That is how it should be, and long may it continue.