Royal Baby hits American Revol

A collection of ladders stand outside the Lindo Wing of St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington, London as members of the media reserve a place outside where the Duchess of Cambridge will give birth later this month.

Royal Baby hits American Revolution for a six

Niagara Falls lit up blue or red, depending on whether George III’s latest descendant is male or female. Is this the land of the Free?

Royal Baby hits American Revol

A collection of ladders stand outside the Lindo Wing of St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington, London as members of the media reserve a place outside where the Duchess of Cambridge will give birth later this month.

Royal baby
With 9 days to go until Royal Baby Day, St Mary’s Hospital is already in media lockdown. Let us remember that this is a major London hospital, and that, were you to approach it on foot and actually in labour, you would have to fight your pregnant way through a round-number percentage of the world’s press.

The Royal Baby. Forget the Kennedys (and especially forget the Bushes). Downton Abbey, BBC America and Simon Cowell aside, there are parts of America – especially if your part of it is a Union Flag-bedecked work desk shared with a certain type of single young woman who has her broody side – that look ready to welcome back the British Sovereign for serious.

This time, also, it’s more than a fling: we are days from the birth of Diana’s first grandchild, who will be 1/8th American (Diana’s grandmother was from New York), and the great saga that paused in 1997 is about to roll on. Americans love a spirited comeback. 

Here in Colorado, a state that didn’t exist at the time the USA declared its independence, people have been going approximately wild. Cindy Edwards, a woman from Littleton (in greater Denver) hosted a baby shower in her cross-stitch shop, with gifts going to charities, and a baby book. Said daughter of the republic Edwards, “This little bundle of joy will rule England one day, so I think it is important to celebrate.”

Looking forward from the devastated, but newly free United States of America in 1776, the philosophers and visionaries of the new republic foresaw the need for a standing army and a militia to overthrow it, when necessary; for votes for all (White) (Men), and for the separation of church and state. That the Americans of 237 years hence should be obsessively documenting the lives of King George III’s descendants, however, escaped their most fevered imaginations (malaria was rife in the US in colonial times).

Why do the citizens of one of the most nominally and rhetorically meritocratic societies on Earth so enjoy fawning over the House of Windsor?

Cherchez la femme: Diana did it. Although interest in the Royals flared up in the United States soon after the actual Revolution, and continued on a low heat ever afterwards, royalty up until the 1970s was, in America, something that older, rather Establishment figures indulged in. Caring about the royals, however, never went over huge in even the most Anglophile circles – being able to name the Windsors in order of accession to the throne was mostly as an addendum to the more serious American cult of Churchill As Greatest Leader, Ever.

Then came Diana, in the mold in which Americans seldom tire of seeing themselves: the sincere, unaffected outsider, at home with the people, unstudied and natural, brought into the shadow of the Great House and its stilted, sinister inbreds, whose very titles were at once a handy inventory of wealth and an admission of painfully iterative genealogy.

Then Di, whom Chris Hitchens unforgettably called a ‘doe-eyed Bambi narcissist’, won America’s hearts with her effortless (and therefore highly accomplished) style and persona in the first truly global celebrity wedding in 1981.

As Di’s expert media manoeuvres contrasted increasingly badly with the Windsor’s omertà, their unability to stay married, and their generally weak taste in spouses, she was more loved by the world (but particularly by the US) – and the Windsors floundered.

Clearly Kate Middleton, for all that she is an accomplished and independent young woman, cannot escape the mantle of Diana II, being also strikingly beautiful and confident and easy with the public. The public loves her because of these things, but also because the Diana narrative demands that her children, robbed of their mother by (so the story has it) the dark logical conclusions of paparazzi culture, should find in adult life the happiness and sense of familiy that they lacked growing up. Of course, if you love Diana, or the idea of Diana, and you deplore her death while being chased by paparazzi, the logical conclusion of such sentiments is never again to pay for or lend any attention to celebrity gossip, and particuarly royal celebrity gossip. Obviously, however, celebrity doesn’t work that way – and in America, they understand these things.

So, in a few days, either Alexandra (currently at betting odds of 3 to 1) or George (7 to 1) will join the queue to take over the family business on a rain-lashed island in the North Atlantic, and North America (lest we forget Canada’s vigorous monarchists) can look forward to a Niagara Falls lit either blue or red and back-to-back media coverage.

In closing I can do no better than The Daily Telegraph: The last word, however, goes to CNN’s Victoria Arbiter. “I’m so excited I feel like I might go into labour myself,” she says. “Every time the phone rings I feel sick, in case this is the moment. It’s not just me; the whole world is waiting.” – Jeff Firmin

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