LONDON – It’s been a long wait.
Even longer than the nine months it usually takes to have a baby.
Longer still if you’ve been standing for the last two weeks – with not much to say but a lot of airtime to fill – outside the London hospital that’s become the center of the attention for the whole world, apparently.
Ever since Kate and William got together, we’ve all secretly been wondering when they’d get around to the important business of Doing Their Duty.
There may have been a little romance and a lot of love happening along the way, but let’s not kid ourselves about what’s going on here.
It is, of course, about the joy of starting a family. But it’s also about making sure the monarchy keeps going. It’s about producing an heir to the throne.
JOHN STILLWELL/AFP/Getty Images
Prince William the Duke of Cambridge holds his new-born baby boy in front of the world's media outside the Lindo Wing of St Mary's Hospital in London on July 23, 2013.
It’s been a major concern throughout Great Britain’s rather bloody history. Henry VIII – he of the six wives – was said to be consumed with the belief that it was his duty to produce a male heir to secure the future of the Tudor dynasty. It was third time lucky for the old philanderer, though even then it didn’t go to plan.
So with the very welcome arrival of Prince Whatsisname of Cambridge, the future of the House of Windsor seems secure. There’s granddad, dad and now junior all standing by (well, not baby, not yet) to become His Majesty the King – the first time we’ve had so many in the dugout for more than 100 years.
Nice work Kate.
As expected, for the most part Britons are ridiculously happy about the baby’s arrival. Some are joyous because they love all things royal; some because they believe in the monarchy; and some because they just love babies and happy stories in the midst of all the misery that besets us these days.
There are others here who don’t care, and they are having a lean time of things right now because there is simply nowhere they can go to get away from the story. It’s everywhere – on every TV channel, in every paper, on every news website. There is no hiding place for the curmudgeons.
The world, it seems, is captivated by this little nipper’s arrival. Not least (and this makes me happy as it helps pay the rent) our audience in the United States.
An American colleague told me this morning that her girlfriends had set up an email “baby chain,” with everyone on it in a high state of excitement. And, she said somewhat puzzled, “they are normally so sensible!”
Well sense is out the window for now. As I write this I, a self-proclaimed royal doubter, am glued to my TV monitors. All four of them, all showing different channels, all pointing at the same door – the exit to the Lindo Wing of St. Mary’s hospital, through which His Royal Diaper-Wearing Highness will emerge at any moment.
I suspect hundreds of thousands – nay, millions – around the world are doing the same thing. Who’d have thought one wee baby could attract so much attention. This young chap surely gets into the Guinness Book of Records for causing the most “Oohs” and “Aahs” ever simultaneously-uttered across so many continents.
Nice work, Prince Not-Yet-Named.
My excuse? I recently acquired the noble status of grandfather to a rather lovely baby girl. Now every day, when not dealing with the murder and mayhem that characterize my job as director of international news for NBC, I find myself “oohing” and “aahing” at video of the precious child doing all sorts off mind-blowing and never-before-done things like rolling over on her side, and rolling back again.
And that first smile? Believe me, it’s priceless.
So, monarchists or not, the world has cause to celebrate the arrival of the young prince, and all young human-kind who add to the sum of our joys. It’s because of them that life goes on.
It’s not often we news journalists get the chance to spread a little sunshine in the world. So make the most of it. The rains will come soon enough.
First published July 23 2013, 12:28 PM