The Royal Birth: Why the drama?
In the wake of a mother giving birth to a healthy newborn, social media fell into two camps: those who couldn’t care less and those who couldn’t keep away from Nicholas Witchell actually having something to report.
Strange perhaps that the world cannot stop going on about the child’s future and yet he himself can’t for the life of him fathom what the fuss outside his window can possibly be about. It’s a unique situation and who could blame the kid for never wanting to be aware? Aware of a lifetime of constitutional and ceremonial obligations. Of being not just head of state; but head of the Commonwealth and the Church of England. From his birth to his death there will be a media frenzy around him, our unnamed future monarch. It’s all a bit silly, really.
So just why do we care? Why still, do we persist with a system that even the French long thought to throw out?
It’s a distraction – Support for the monarchy has seen a spike ever since the start of the global recession and to my mind, that’s beyond coincidence. They’re a hideously wealthy family and yet there is something about them that’s almost loveable. It’s hard not to smile at Charles addressing The Queen as ‘Mummy’, at Her Majesty herself looking so peeved during the Olympic opening ceremony. When the country took a day off to watch two young people get married in the most extravagant and OTT ceremony imaginable, it was hard not to deny just a bit of the ‘feel good’ buzz. For a day, for a month even, stories about welfare cuts, famine and war simply weren’t a news priority. We weren’t bombarded with negativity.
The money is hard to ignore – As far as economics go, it’s tricky to argue the removal of the monarchy. Whilst the republican’s favourite argument is that the British taxpayer pours a great amount of money into the family, it cannot be denied that we get a more than fair return – something in the area of £44.5 billion. The findings come from Brand Finance who also concluded that a cool £2.4 billion was expected to come from the Diamond Jubilee alone. Whilst £7.9 million a year in the form of The Civil List does land in the pockets of The Queen, the overwhelming majority of that money is spent on staff and business. The argument that we’d spend the same amount of money on a president and not get such extravagant returns is a good one and shouldn’t be ignored.
The ‘rebranding’– From rulers to, in their own way, servants. The family has long been aware that in an age where they hold almost no real power; the public simply will not sit back and allow them to be rich. To the royal’s credit they are more often than not seen as a force for good. From George VI rallying the nation during its time of war, to Diana walking through a minefield almost every royal has made a conscious effort to use his or her money and influence in a positive manner. The list is vast, from The Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme to The Prince’s Trust, they touch and impact lives. Whilst the royals maintain a status it can be said that in a lot of cases, it’s a status and a power that is being put to good effect.
Does the money, does the ‘national identity’ and the spine tingling flag waving really excuse a child’s life being set in stone from their moment of conception? I’m not sure and it’s an important debate to have. Whilst I’ve put forward the royalist’s side, no one should be blasé about this. It’s too easy to say that you don’t care, that there are thousands of births every day. If you’re invested in your country, its identity and its future then this birth is important to you, even (especially) if you’re a republican.