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Would Brits Throw Out Royals With Baby's Bathwater?
Originally published on Mon July 22, 2013 3:17 am
"Royal Baby Fever" is gripping Britain.
So say the breathless TV pundits gathered from round the world to report the infant's arrival.
Is it true?
An Ipsos Mori poll published this week found the Royal Family's certainly enjoying a golden age, after rebounding from the disasters of the 1990s — including the death of Princess Diana.
Three out of every four surveyed want the United Kingdom to remain a monarchy. Only 17 percent prefer a republic.
Yet for many here in London, the much-trumpeted royal baby fever is more of a summer silly season snuffle — spreading faster around the world than it is in the U.K.
Using no scientific methods whatsoever, I've concluded that, when it comes to the Royal Baby, Brits divide into four broad groups:
They are hopelessly in love with the Royal Family. Their cupboards are full of bone china plates adorned with pictures of William and Kate; their knees wobble at the merest glimpse of the royal couple. They follow the fortunes of Windsor family with the devotion of TV soap addicts; they will greet the birth of the royal baby with wild cheers ... and head for the shops, to load up with more memorabilia. There's no point in debating the merits, or otherwise, of the monarchy with these guys: their love of the Windsors is an affair of the heart, not the mind. This is a minority, that seems to include a surprisingly large number of Americans.
They'll eagerly raise a glass of bubbly to the new-born royal. They might also have a flutter on the child's name. They're generally proud of their Royal Family, relishing its history and pageantry, and consider it as a foundation stone of their society. But they also know the UK is a constitutional monarchy in which real political power lies with the prime minister, cabinet and legislature. Influence wielded by the monarchy is limited, and strictly behind the scenes. These folk will greet the arrival of the royal baby with genuine pleasure, but they will quickly move on.
Almost everyone sees the birth of any baby as a happy event. That includes these guys. But the fact that this particular newborn is third in line to the throne is of little interest to them. They see the Royal Family as remote from their daily lives. These folk will tell you, over a pint in the pub, that the tabloid press waste far too much time writing about the tedious lives of the royals; they deride the media for spending weeks on the sidewalk outside St. Mary's Hospital in London, awaiting the royal birth. This category includes some who'd prefer to see the monarchy abolished. They do not hate the Royal Family, but they do suspect taxpayers' money could be better spent.
Class consciousness is alive and well in parts of Britain; there is a minority of Britons who actively dislike the Royal Family because they view it as the arcane centerpin of a ruthless and increasingly wealthy elite. Members of this category will likely show no interest in the arrival of the royal baby — and scorn those who do. These folk include those who write furious notes on Twitter, declaring how bored and irritated they are by the Royal Baby Watch.