Welcome to the world, Your Royal Highness, George | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

CATHERINE and Prince William with their newborn son George Alexander Louis PHOTO BY AFP
CATHERINE and Prince William with their newborn son George Alexander Louis PHOTO BY AFP

LONDON—By George, what a relief—all 8 lb and 6 oz of him, 10 stubby fingers curling and uncurling (practice for the royal wave?), a lusty pair of lungs, his mother’s good looks!


His parents seemed in no hurry to leave the celebrity maternity hospital where he was born (£10,000 a pop), but with hundreds of photographers and reporters ready to pounce on them in the searing 34-degree heat, who can blame them for tarrying in the Lindo Wing of St. Mary’s Hospital in west London?


Whereas his father’s parents, Charles and Diana, dawdled a good long week before announcing the name of their firstborn child, this baby’s parents announced not long afterward that he would be named His Royal Highness Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge—a name that would have pleased his great-granny, as it pays tribute to her beloved father, King George VI.


In years to come, and in the mystical panoply of the British monarchy, Prince George will become the Duke of Cambridge, then Prince of Wales, and all being well around 2068, ascend to the throne as King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.


As the media encampment built up in the early days of July with a mountain of stepladders and cables in front of the Lindo Wing, royal baby mania grew—and grew. This torpid condition gave rise to the new verb “lindowing.” Live TV streams had the surreal flavor of watching grass grow.




In the US, media coverage was breathlessly hysterical. “I think it may be even bigger news at home (US) than it is here,” wailed Natalie Morales, an NBC news anchor.


Even as we have become inured to being second best or also-rans in international sports, the Great British Summer of 2013 notched up one sporting triumph after another. You’d have to be flint-hearted not to have been caught up in the excitement of Andy Murray winning Wimbledon, 77 long and arid years after Fred Perry’s victory.


Economy boost


Meanwhile, manufacturers and retailers of royal memorabilia were poised to exploit an industrial-assembly line of commercial opportunities—if only they knew the baby’s gender! Anything from biscuit tins, babygros, blankets and bibs—expected to add some £243 million to retail sales this year. As we are  strapped for cash, this boost to our economy is welcome.


Why, even the grandparents—on both sides—are getting in on the act! Prince Charles’ shop in his country home of Highgrove has put out a more tasteful—hence, more expensive—range of gifts, including a £65 handmade teddy bear, a baby bug shawl (£95) and the cutest Union Jack booties (£22.50). Proceeds from Highgrove’s sales are earmarked for the prince’s many charities.


Baby boom


The royal wedding, in 2011, sparked a baby boom, with nearly 725,000 babies born in 2012, the highest for 40 years.  News of Kate’s pregnancy went viral, and global. “This has been a People’s Pregnancy,” said Charles Anson, a former royal press secretary, without irony.


In Parliament, politics was in a tizz over royal succession: What if Kate had a baby girl? A historic change to the rules of primogeniture and the Act of Succession to the Crown needed to be enacted to allow the firstborn daughter of the Cambridges to become the monarch, even if later they have a son.  Kate said she wanted a boy; William, a girl.


By mid-July when the baby’s arrival was expected, Prince William took his two-week paternity leave from his job as a search-and-rescue RAF helicopter pilot to be by Kate’s side.  Kate’s bump, the subject of intense tabloid interest, grew as she and her mother Carole busied themselves buying soft furnishings for the nursery, baby clothes, a Bugaboo buggy, a Moses basket.


And still no baby. At a royal walkabout, the queen told well-wishers she wished it would hurry up as she was going to Balmoral, in Scotland, for their annual summer vacation.


At 5:30 on Monday morning, in a clever feint of using the hospital’s side entrance away from the media corral, William and Kate entered the sanctuary of the Lindo Wing and into the hands of a world-class team comprising a surgeon-gynecologist, an obstetrician and a neonatologist. Kate had gone into labor, and 10 hours later, the third in line to the British throne was born.


William, who was present at the birth, said: “We could not be happier.” Kate would later say: “It’s very emotional, it’s such a special time, and I think any parent will probably know what this feeling feels like.” Princess Diana’s comment, on giving birth to William 31 years ago, was more trenchant: “I felt the whole country was in labor with me.”


PRINCE William holds his newborn baby boy in front of the world’s media outside the Lindo Wing of St.Mary’s Hospital in London. PHOTO BY AFP

Wild applause


I was in a smart London restaurant dining with friends when the maître d’ announced the news we’d all been waiting for, whereupon the entire room burst into wild applause and into male cheers of “Well done, William!” to be drowned by female shouts of “Well done, Kate!”


A jubilant party atmosphere was palpable, no more so than outside Buck House where Katy Berzins, 28, had camped out with friends and other extravagantly worshipful royal watchers. “This is our king. We have never been able to relate to the others. They have always seemed distant, but William and Kate seem more like us… they seem normal,” she told The Times.




At a business reception she was hosting inside, the queen told guests how “thrilled” she was, and that “the firstborn is very special.” This is probably the strongest show of emotion we’ve seen from our stoically buttoned-up monarch since Diana’s funeral in 1997.


Reached in northern England where he and his wife Camilla were on a royal visit, the overjoyed Prince Charles said to a reporter: “Grandparenthood is a unique moment in anyone’s life, as countless kind people have told me in recent months, so I am enormously proud and happy to be a grandparent for the first time, and we are eagerly looking forward to seeing the baby.”


Tributes from around the world were paid to the baby’s parents like confetti falling from a cloudless sky. Landmark buildings and the London Eye blinked patriotic red, white and blue. Canada lit up the CN Tower in Toronto. Tokyo let out baby balloons. The lights around Niagara Falls turned blue. Her Majesty’s ships, at home and in international waters, flew the Royal Navy Ensign from their masts. The Trafalgar Square fountains were a sea of blue lights.




In keeping with the tradition of crossing the palm of a newborn with silver to wish them wealth and good health, the Royal Mint distributed 2,013 silver coins, in blue and pink pouches, to babies sharing the royal birthday. The coin is nominally valued at £28, but would certifiably fetch a tidy sum when auctioned in years to come.


At Westminster Abbey, 10 bell ringers began a nonstop three-hour peal. The Trooping of the Color band played the “Imperial March” from “Star Wars,” and a jaunty “Congratulations.”


In Kate’s sleepy little village of Bucklebury, in rural Berkshire where she grew up, a party was in full swing at the Old Boot Inn, an 18th-century pub that she and William go to for a drink when visiting her family, who have recently upgraded to a £5-million mansion with acres of grounds, a swimming pool and tennis court.


Baby Cambridge was headline news around the world. The media coverage was now in overdrive, and social media went hyper. Tweets and e-mails to broadcasters demanded calm, a sense of proportion and a return to “proper news.” But as the author Lionel Shriver wrote in The New York Times: “All we naysayers and pooh-poohers are obliged to stuff a sock in it. You simply cannot, you cannot, be down on the royal baby!”


The past is present


In Britain, the past is very present to us; we reference in decades and hundreds of years.  The royal baby is descended from Alfred the Great, and six Georges have worn the Crown throughout its history.


When Kate married William, she would have accepted that her duty as wife to a future king was to give birth to his heir—and maybe in two years’ time, a spare—who will carry forward the Royal House of Windsor and continue to unite and embody the nation’s hopes and aspirations for the future.


As she cradled in her arms her son for the first time, imagine—as a parent—the weight and burden of her responsibility.


George was born under a bluer sky. While a good many of the Sovereign’s subjects live lives full of briers, the life of the new prince is going to be one of wealth, extraordinary comfort and privilege. While young couples find it almost impossible these days to pay the deposit on a mortgage for their first home, George will live in palaces, summer retreats and great country mansions.




While not lacking in both solicited and unsolicited advice on parenting from relatives, friends and experts, the brand-new parents—well-grounded, somewhat conservative and low-key—will be grappling with matters concerning nannies and a domestic staff; commitments to royal duties and overseas tours to “sell the country” to the world; a desire for their son to have a normal, as well as informal, childhood; where to send him to school; when to start his education on “kingship”; his privacy and how much of the real world to let into his young life.


Famously, Diana was opposed to distant parenting, and while extremely protective of her sons, exposed William and Harry very early on in their lives to theme parks, the great outdoors, McDonald’s fries and burgers, trips to cinemas, and introduced them to her pet charities that highlighted the plight of the homeless, drug addicts and AIDS victims.


A very hands-on mother, she took the stuffiness and starch out of princely pomp and circumstance, believing that one day, William will be king not just of the smart set, but of all these blessed isles and over 70 million of her people. And he needed to prepare for that.


Middle-class values


Kate, the product of a loving and close family, whose forebears included laborers, a carpenter, coal miner and baker, will be a mother in the mold of the aristocratic Diana, only more so.


That’s because Kate has brought staunchly solid middle-class values into her marriage to William, whose own childhood and adolescence were overshadowed by the tragedies of his parents’ brutal and very public divorce, and his young mother’s violent death in a car crash in Paris.


“Nothing would boost the infant prince’s chances of happiness,” said a Times leader, “than that he should grow up in a warm and loving home.”


A child first


Who knows what the world will be like when George ascends to the throne? For now, he just wants his feed, his nappies changed, his father’s reassuring embrace, the lullaby of his mother’s voice. Before he is a king, he is first a child.


In the Great British Summer of 2013, welcome to the world, Your Royal Highness.





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