How the new Royal is helping to further modernise the British monarchy
So the long-awaited arrival of the third in line to the UK throne is over. On the afternoon of Monday 22nd July, at around twenty-five past four, a baby boy, George Alexander Louis, was safely delivered at St Mary’s Hospital, Paddington, London weighing 8lb 6oz. It will be a number of years before the young Prince of Cambridge realises that he was born to ‘reign over us’ – as the UK national Anthem suggests – and that his life is much departed from the typical life of his subjects.
There has much public pressure on the UK Royals, as the general public begins to realise the vast difference between the lives lived by ordinary citizens, and those who are born into royal privilege. Following the death of the Princess of Wales in 1997, less than 50 per cent of people thought that Britain would be worse off without the Queen. Yet in 2012, 90 per cent of people stated they were happy with the Queen, while politicians such as UK PM David Cameron and Leader of the Opposition Ed Miliband languished around 40 per cent. The marriage of William and Kate revitalised public opinion of the Royals, and was described by Sky News as ‘turning around the fortunes’ of the monarchy, and the birth of the future king is adding much value to the future prospect of sustained public support for the UK monarchy.
Eleven years on from the Queen’s now famous ‘annus horribilis’ speech – (three children’s marriages on the rocks and a Palace partly destroy by fire, plus Diana’s story laid bare in a book) and six since her ‘annus’ became even more ‘horribilis’ with the unpopularity following the death of the Princess of Wales, the Royal Family has undergone much modernisation.
What’s so different this time round?
The impact of the new arrival is huge. The baby has already been described as the most famous baby in the world. The couple embody a sense of a modernising monarchy, set into motion by Diana, the Princess of Wales, who was the first member of the royal family to opt for a birth in hospital rather than at home. This deviation from tradition is accentuated even further when we factor in the help available from the seriously middle-class Middleton family, and indeed, the baby will be ‘normalised’ further through contact with his only biological grandmother, Carole Middleton, who grew up in a council house and is the daughter of miners and labourers.
The baby Prince’s Uncle Harry has also done his best in bringing ‘the firm’ – as the British Royal Family is described – to new audiences, the rogue boy everyone loves with his well-documented war heroics and fun-loving partying antics.
The Royal PR machine seems to have got its act together. Technology has certainly played a part in the ‘re-branding’ with the opportunities provided by the internet, all neatly combined with the traditional commemorative mugs, hats, flags and even bobbly-headed dolls of the Duke of Cambridge.
Creating the ‘modern’ family image
The relationship between William and Kate appears natural, “unclouded and uncomplicated” unlike that of Prince Charles and Diana. It was clear from the apparent ease, that William had practised getting the baby seat into the car – just another sign of the more normal parenting that the Royals are trying to project.
Diana had made those early changes from tradition, but the largest step change has occurred with William and Kate as they project a marriage of love, as opposed to one of titles and aristocracy.
The Royal PR machine has done an admirable job in normalising the monarchy and portraying a modern outfit that is embracing the influence of the middle-class Middletons. However, they have their future work cut out as although Carole Middleton went to a state school – and one in three people want the new Prince to attend a state school – all three of her children boarded at the exclusive Marlborough College, while both William and Harry attended Eton.
Certainly, we can expect there will times ahead when the vast difference in privilege between the new Prince of Cambridge and his subjects-to-be will need to be smoothed over for the public eye.