So I heard this girl named Kate had a baby with this guy named Will, and everyone is freaking the heck out about it. Anyone else hear about that?
Oh, you bought the commemorative dish set, too?? That’s nice.
Don’t tell me you’re not at least a little bit amused by the frenzy Americans are making over the birth of a child they will most likely never meet, born into a family of royals whom they will most likely never meet, in a country across the Atlantic that they will likely never be citizens of, and the said country being ruled by a government* against which our forefathers fought to gain independence (and things like protection for natural rights, representative government, all that jazz).
At the same time, it makes sense. Basic cultural awareness shows us that as much as we love our guns and steak and freedom, we Americans also have a fascination with the pomp and circumstance of the royal family and their functions. We also have Diana’s legacy, which is being carried on in some sense through Will, and anyone who was alive by 1990 knows that Americans were infatuated with that woman. (Personally, I think she seemed like a sweetheart, but sweet Moses those shoulder pads were atrocious.) Then if you look at socio-political trends, both globally and here in America, you can see why something like a royal baby is a cause for such excitement: We’re caught up in the worst economic depression since the Great Depression, there is more friction and debate in our bipartisan system than ever, we’re involved in a war that’s now been going on for over a decade now, and the nuclear family- which is the core social structure in any civilization- is crumbling as we know it and struggling to find a new and satisfactory form.
The birth of a baby is a harbinger of hope. That wrinkly little person signifies a fresh start, with all his life laid out before him, opportunities waiting to blossom. It is near-impossible to not be thrilled at his possibilities as they remind us of our own potential. A baby is a literal representation of new life, and when that baby is a royal (however far removed), it seems that the entire nation- and, apparently, America- can’t help but share in the excitement.
So when it comes down to it, I get it. I don’t get it, in that I’m not buying blankets or teacups or bumper stickers that say “Congrats Will and Kate!” and I don’t even know what the little bugger’s name is, but I understand why everyone is getting excited about him. It’s nice that they’re starting their family, it’s nice that the entire first-world is supporting them, and it’s nice that Kate has a team of stylists and groomers meeting her at the hospital so she doesn’t have to suffer from that dang post-childbirth frizz.
All the hubbub over this royal baby reminds me of another royal baby. He wasn’t British, and no one was making commemorative knick-knacks in His honor (at least not until a couple centuries and lots of holiday-commercialization later). The royal minders on hand had wings instead of walkie-talkies, and no one camped out in the street waiting to hear news of the new arrival. His first visitors were the bluest of the blue-collar crowd and the saltiest of the salt-of-the-earth type. Word of His birth spread eventually, but no celebrities sent congratulatory cards, and the one king who did ask to see the little family and congratulate them in person had homicidal intentions. His grandmother was not a publicly-adored philanthropic princess, but rather His lineage was a mix that included heroes and kings along with prostitutes, murderers, and adulterers.
It’s nice that the whole developed world is united in excitement over Will and Kate’s new baby, but it’s just impossible to ignore the parallels between these royal births two centuries apart. Is it not sad that it is so easy for us to ignore the Son of God and yet so instinctive for us to fawn over this little prince? At the same time, I think it’s a cause for hope, because we see that the world is still longing for everything a royal baby symbolizes.
As much as American society may seem to be ruled by negative headlines and dwindling moral standards, there is still something in us as a society that cries out with joy at the birth of a prince. We yearn to take part in that wonderment and that overflowing hope, and ultimately I think we want to be a part of that royal story.
How many times in the past week have you heard someone (ok, usually women in their fifties) remark on how they remember when Diana gave birth to Prince William? We want to “be there” even if we aren’t actually there, and we want to be able to say “I remember when…” It’s that feeling of involvement in the royal family- however vicarious- that we as a society seem to seek, even if that endeavor manifests itself in pathetic things like overpriced “Happy Birthday” cupcakes honoring a little prince (who hasn’t got any teeth yet, and can’t even have a cupcake of his own) a whole ocean away. So the rabid infatuation with Will and Kate’s “bundle of joy” isn’t a bad thing if it means people haven’t forgotten that the birth of a royal is a momentous occasion.
And maybe someday they’ll realize that there is another royal birth worth being excited over, infinitely more than this one. Because that little baby would grow up to be a Man that was truly for the people, so much so that he would be willing to die for them. It’s the story of a royal- of the Royal- that doesn’t fit into fairytales or make the headlines, but it’s the story upon which all eternity hinges. It’s a story that changed history, it’s a story that’s still being told, and it’s a story in which we’ve been invited to take part.
I’d say that’s worth a lot more than a celebratory cupcake.
*Yes, I understand that England is a constitutional monarchy and King George is long dead and the queen is now essentially a figurehead (no offense, ma’am). You know what I meant.