Letters: The elusive magic of a royal birth

These letters appear in the print edition of The Independent, 24 July, 2013

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At times like this many otherwise seemingly normal people descend into the realms of magic and superstition. Will someone please explain to me just what it is that makes them believe  that the “royal” baby is different from the thousands of others who share his birthday?

I am not asking if he will be treated differently, that goes without saying, but why will this be so?

Bill Fletcher, Cirencester, Gloucestershire


Well done, Independent, for your modest coverage of the royal infant’s birth.

The arrival of any wanted baby brings joy to its relatives, and it would be churlish not to wish this family well. But for the sake of this child and all others of his age we need to consider the effects of monarchy on us all.

This poor scrap will have no chance of a normal existence, though his life will be one of privilege of a sort. And a society that permits hereditary privilege is in danger of condoning hereditary deprivation.

Susan Alexanderm Frampton Cotterell, South Gloucestershire


There are those complaining that we now know that our next three heads of state, probably stretching into the next century, will all be white males. Well, they would all have been white males, anyway.

The present one is not male. But any elected head of this state always would be. And white. And quite or very posh. So why bother changing the present arrangements?

No one with anything like the Royal Family’s foreign background would ever stand a hope of becoming the President of Britain. Nor would anyone aged 26, as the present Queen was when she came to the throne. Nor would anyone aged 87, as she is now.

David Lindsay, Lanchester, Co Durham


The birth of royal baby would, at one time, have sent a buzz of excitement throughout the Royal Navy as the announcement would be followed by the time-honoured signal, “Splice the Mainbrace!” 

This signified that all those sailors eligible to receive one daily tot of rum would now be entitled to have two. For officers, it would be the only occasion when they too were allowed to have an official tot. As a young sailor, I was fortunate to enjoy “splicers” for the arrival of Princes Andrew and Edward. Two tots, drunk one after the other, was a wonderful way to celebrate!

But since the issue of rum ceased in 1970, it will be interesting to see how the Senior Service, now obsessed with political correctness, intends, if at all, to “splice the mainbrace” for the arrival of the new third in line to the throne.

Cdr Roger Paine RN, Hellingly, East Sussex


It has been most gratifying and appropriate to see the BBC announce the 8lb 6oz weight of the royal baby in imperial units. Sadly, the BBC seems to have such a love affair with metric units that they are normally used even when public safety is at stake – as with the recent warnings of over-hot weather given repeatedly in Celsius when those most likely to be affected better understand Fahrenheit.

If the royal birth has made the BBC reconsider its position on this, then it may well be time for cynical republicans like myself to reconsider our stance on the monarchy.

John Eoin Douglas, Edinburgh


After the death of Margaret Thatcher your letters page was entirely devoted to her for many days. Right now there is civil war in Syria, North Korea has nuclear weapons, the UK and EU economies are in dire straits with debt, and scandals in every walk of life are queuing up to be revealed.

Please leave half the letters page for topics other than the birth of a boy whose life will be determined by privilege and patronage, even if it means not printing this.

Peter Slessenger, Reading


Public services sold off for private profit

The headlines, “G4S and Serco face £50m fraud inquiry” (12 July) and “The great outsourcing scandal as firms ‘cut corners’ to cream profits off public” (18 July) don’t make very good reading.

Yet still successive governments, particularly the Tories, have been obsessed with selling off or outsourcing all our public services to the private sector, where they are run for profit and ripping off the taxpayer appears to be common practice.

After the privatisation of essential services such as gas, electricity, rail and water, where there is no competition whatsoever, and with Royal Mail being the next in line, the cheaper prices and more competition we were assured of have clearly not happened.

Privatisation is the biggest confidence trick politicians have ever played on the public, yet none of them has ever been held to account.

Michael W Cook, Soulbury, Buckinghamshire


It’s long been an open secret that outsourcing of services is a huge rip-off, with the public suffering from worse services at increased cost.

But national government is not alone in wanting to shed their responsibility for the day-to-day running of public services: our Tory county council here in Suffolk, emboldened by the 2010 election result, and encouraged by Eric Pickles, planned to outsource all their public services. This madness only collapsed under the weight of opposition and the concurrent controversy over council executives’ salaries and councillors’ behaviour.

Just how corrupt do companies have to be before they are sacked, regardless of patsy contracts (let them put their cases in court) and barred from future contracts? A change in management, the usual response to failings or profiteering, is not good enough, with no one ever held personally responsible or relieved of their ill-gotten gains.

Eddie Dougall, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk


Labour’s other voting scandal

The alleged “fixing” of election candidates via block vote is not unique to Falkirk (“Labour hands evidence of Falkirk ballot-rigging by Unite to police”, 6 July): Ethnic minority activists have been employing similar tactics in areas with high immigrant population for years.

The “block vote” involves building election campaigns around ethnicity or religion. Prospective ethnic minority candidates for council elections visit places of worship and try to convince voters to vote for them on the basis of their ethnicity and religion rather than personal qualities or political experience.

This strategy seems to have worked well in some London boroughs. In one of these boroughs, for example, the ruling Labour group on the council are overwhelmingly one ethnic group, although this group constitutes only 30 per cent of the borough’s population.

If white candidates were to choose such a strategy, they would immediately be branded as racists, and expelled from the party.

Since ethnic/religious block voting is quintessentially a Labour problem, perhaps it is time the Labour leadership, took note of ethnic minority vote block scandal too.

Randhit Singh Bains, Gants Hill, Essex


Pathway to a peaceful death

I share the disappointment of Karen Phillips (letter, 17 July) that the Liverpool Care Pathway is to be phased out.

Four years ago my husband was placed on the pathway at the Royal Berkshire Hospital. I already knew about the pathway and remember my relief that this was available when nothing more could be done for him medically. When active treatment was ended we were treated with great consideration and sympathy. My husband was still aware that his family were with him in his last few hours of life, and we were comforted by the fact that he died peacefully and without pain.

I am sure Karen Phillips is right in pointing to the need to address poor practice, and this should include ensuring that families are consulted and involved and that they understand the purpose of the pathway. Much of the opposition that has been reported stems I suspect from insufficient training of staff and lack of understanding by families.

Angela Crum Ewing, Reading


Spirit of cricket not out yet

In response to Robin Wright (letter, 17 July), as a recreational umpire I would expect a batsman to walk if he knew the ball hit his bat or glove and was legitimately caught. I would not expect him to walk, nor would I give him out if the ball merely struck his lower arm. Law 32 states that what constitutes the bat is the bat itself or the whole of the glove on the hand holding the bat. The lower arm is not part of the bat.

Although they do not stand their ground, batsmen do protest when they know the ball hit the bat before pad and were given out LBW. We all make mistakes, and I have had a case where the opposing team agreed with the batsman, resulting in their captain asking to rescind his appeal, and I reversed my decision. This is what is meant by “the spirit of cricket”, something that is lacking in Test cricket.

Malcolm Howard, Banstead, Surrey


In 1979, after constant trouncings at the hands of US in the Ryder Cup, Great Britain decided to play under the banner of Europe, and recruited all those marvellous Spanish golfers to play for us. Since then, Team Europe and USA have provided a succession of marvellous and closely contested competitions.

Now, with Australia in apparent terminal cricketing decline, largely due to their prioritising T20 cricket, has the time come for us to tactfully suggest that they should extend the hand of friendship to their brothers across the Tasman Sea and henceforward contest the Ashes as a joint Australian-Kiwi team, perhaps as The Southern All-Stars?

Anthony Bramley-Harker, Watford


Energetic angels

Terence Blacker says that to believe in angels is “delusional” (23 July). Science tells us that once energy is created it cannot be destroyed, and because we are energy, I and many, many perfectly sane people believe that when our body dies, the energy that we are takes on another form. Also I have met many “living angels”, maybe not with wings but loving and caring none the less. What a harsh, two-dimensional life Terence Blacker must inhabit.

Penny Joseph, Shoreham-by-sea, West Sussex


Popular religions

Mark Patel wonders about the status of golf as a religion (letter, 23 July). Are golf courses closing at the same rate as churches? Perhaps drinking is a religion too, for the demise of the public house is equally worrying.

Chris Harding, Parkstone, Dorset