Nation in raptures over news of a royal baby

Picture perfect: The news was announced as Prince George prepares for his first day at school.

Is it foolish for a modern country to be so excited by a pregnancy announcement? A new royal baby is on the way, but as the fifth-in-line, he or she is unlikely ever to sit on the throne.

By now, the process is familiar. For weeks, media speculation has surrounded the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, also known as William and Kate, Britain’s future monarchs. Stray comments about babies and parenthood have been dissected for hints of a new arrival.

And then yesterday the announcement from Kensington Palace: Kate is suffering from severe morning sickness; she is pregnant with their third child.

Royal baby fever has once again gripped the world’s media. A statement said that the Queen is “delighted”. The baby’s uncle, Prince Harry, gave a thumbs up to eager journalists as he went about his day. #RoyalBaby was trending on Twitter thanks to a mixture of excitement and sarcasm.

The new baby will be fifth in line for the throne, meaning he or she is unlikely to reign over Britain. And yet his or her face, like those of parents and siblings, will be famous all around the world.

The news came less than a week after the 20th anniversary of Princess Diana’s death, an event which left the royal family very unpopular. But in 2016, 75% of British people believed that the monarchy had an important role in the country’s future.

Much of that is thanks to Diana’s children, who have struck a “tricky balancing act” between living “ordinary” lives and not diluting “the magic”, as Harry put it this summer. He told Newsweek that while no one wants to be king or queen, “the British public and the whole world need institutions like it.”

Indeed, the prospect of a third royal baby was a rare burst of good news, arriving amidst fears over North Korea's nuclear weapons and arguments about Brexit.

But is it silly to be so invested in a baby that is yet to be born — one that will have done nothing to deserve the inherited spotlight?

Baby, one more time

“Yes,” say the cynics. There were 696,271 babies born last year in Britain, 1,902 a day, more than one a minute. This baby is only special because he or she will be born into one of the most famous — and most complicated — families on Earth. He or she is destined to a life of public service and media attention, with little chance of any real power or privacy. There is little to be excited about; we should do the kid a favour and leave him or her to grow up in peace.

“Don't be so miserable,” say others. Every new life is special, even if they do not all make world news — they still bring joy to people. This particular baby also represents a hopeful future for a Britain struggling to find its place in the 21st century. There is some truth to the “magic” of royalty that Harry described; today’s real-life princes and princesses are good role models, using their fame to make the world a better place. Long live Royal Baby III.

You Decide

  1. Were you excited to hear the news of another royal baby?
  2. Will the monarchy still exist in Britain in 100 years?

Activities

  1. List the five biggest news stories in the world right now. Does the royal family make the list?
  2. Write a short story, written from the perspective of William and Kate’s third child in 50 years’ time. How will the UK, and the royal family, have changed?

Some People Say...

“The royal family should be abolished.”

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
As with the previous two pregnancies, the royals were forced to announce the pregnancy before the traditional three-month mark, as Kate is suffering from Hyperemesis Gravidarum. This is a form of severe morning sickness which affects around one in 100 pregnancies. It means that the earliest possible due date is March 2018.
What do we not know?
The actual date that the baby is due, or any details about their gender or potential name. Currently, the favourites at betting shops are Alice, Arthur, Henry and Victoria, all traditional royal names like George and Charlotte. Although the new baby will undoubtedly receive a lot of media attention, we do not know if it will be as widespread as Charlotte’s. However, it is unlikely to reach the excitement of Prince George in 2013.

Word Watch

Fifth in line
Currently, the line of succession is Prince Charles, Prince William, Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Harry. The new baby will replace Harry.
Princess Diana
The ex-wife of Prince Charles and mother of William and Harry. She died in a car crash in Paris on August 31st 1997. She was immensely popular, and after her death the royal family was accused of appearing cold-hearted and out-of-touch.
75%
According to an Ipsos Mori poll in April 2016. This was an increase from 66% in 1998.
Nuclear weapons
Yesterday the UN’s security council met to discuss a nuclear test performed by North Korea over the weekend.
Brexit
Yesterday Theresa May’s spokesperson said that the prime minister wanted to “intensify negotiations” with Europe. Today, significant laws to prepare the UK for Brexit will be debated in parliament.
696,271
According to the Office for National Statistics.
Better place
Like many royals, William, Kate and Harry are all involved with charities that they care about. They have particularly focused on mental health, with a campaign called Heads Together.

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