Richard and I walked through St. James Park today and then looped back toward Trafalgar Square. Unfortunately, the route took us past Buckingham Palace, and that area was a madhouse. There was no Changing of the Guards ceremony on the horizon — so what in the heck were all of the people doing clustered around, standing on every available inch of sidewalk and wall and fountain, jammed together so thickly you could walk for a mile or more by stepping on the heads of people in the crowd.
As Richard and I slowly wove our way through the mob, we heard someone say that one of the members of the royal family — Prince Harry? Prince William? — was supposed to be arriving at some point. Could all of the people have been waiting for hopes of catching a fleeting glimpse of one of these guys through a window as a limo sped by? It’s hard to believe, but maybe that’s the case.
We were glad to leave the royal riot behind.
The BBC is reporting that the Duchess of Cambridge, the wife of Prince William, has been taken to the hospital for delivery of their first child.
There will be thousands of babies born in the world over the next 24 hours, but this is the one who will receive the attention. The news of the impending birth makes the front page of the BBC website, knocking world crises to the back page. In other parts of the world, it would just be Will and Kate getting ready to welcome a new member to their family, as parents have done for time immemorial. But this birth is different, because the child will be “royal.”
It’s amazing that the British monarchy has survived into the 21st century. You would think that the civilized world has moved past the quaint notion of kings and queens and royal prerogative, but obviously it hasn’t. The British royal family has become a kind of national symbol, and its members have moved comfortably into the modern notion of celebrityhood that seems to dominate so much of our culture, where people are famous for being famous. It’s why so many people in America are as interested in the birth as the people of Great Britain.
What must it be like, to be born into the British royal family? To be heir to immense wealth and property, to be identified as in the line of succession, to be able to jet around the world at your whim — and, at the same time, know that everything you do will be covered by the tabloids, your every indiscretion will be publicized, and even a beautiful, private moment like the birth of your first child will occur in the glare of the public spotlight, with some functionary lecturing you about the proper protocols?
Good luck, kid — I think you’re going to need it.