has just been born. And so we have it – after all these months of waiting, “we” finally have a baby prince! Granted, a couple of my girlfriends and I were hoping it might be a baby princess, especially now that the eldest daughter would have in direct line to the throne over any younger brothers that might come along (which I think is only fair, in my humble opinion). But I’m certainly not complaining – he’s far too cute!
As an American, I always find royal events quite enjoyable to follow since it is so delightfully different from our own traditions on this side of the water. The world would be terribly boring if every country had the same type of government, and as much as I am proud to live in the American Republic, I also deeply respect the British constitutional monarchy with its hereditary, apolitical head-of-state who “reigns but does not rule”, while at the same time lending a sense of historical continuity and unity to The United Kingdom and the Commonwealth. Yes, it’s expensive, but loads of other governmental institutions are costly as well, and not half so attractive and worthwhile!
There are many things we can take away from the happy anticipation of the recent royal birth. As a pro-life advocate myself, I would hope it will focus people’s minds of the priceless nature of all human life, whether in the womb, in the cradle, or beyond. As a student of British history and culture, I would hope that greater understanding of the purpose of the Royal Family is brought to the fore on both sides of the Atlantic. It would be a terrible shame to reduce the event to a mere channel for sentimentality or an excuse to make snarky remarks about Marie Antoinette (who didn’t say “Let them eat cake”) and King George III (“Let them drink tea” etc. etc.), or to back-bite about costs.
I personally find it rather odd how some Americans can be so cynical about the pomp and ceremony of the British monarchy while simultaneously following royal events and enjoying every minute of them. Also, I find it ironic how some Brits get huffy over the fanfare of American presidential elections, while still lapping up campaign coverage for fun. Perhaps it’s high time we both learned to have a little more well-rounded respect for each other’s differences and admit our own instinct to indulge in the exotic and far-flung.
On the issue of Unionism, the birth of a future king of Britain is a source of common interest throughout the UK, as well it should be. As a matter a fact, it was a Scottish Unionist friend who called me up the day after the birth and informed me that his name was going to be George Alexander Louis! “Well,” he added “You know, Andrew would have made a nice name.” I have to agree with him, especially on the eve of the Scottish independence referendum, but I guess they figured that there was already one Prince Andrew floating around and didn’t want to confuse things.
Besides, I like the name George. St. George was a heroic Christian martyr; King George III “gloried in the name of Briton” and presided over the national crisis of the Napoleonic Conquests; King George IV was a great fan of all things Scottish (to an extreme, as demonstrated by the extravagant, but also kind of cool, outfits and public productions put together by Sir Walter Scott to celebrate the King’s visit to Scotland); King George VI presided over the national crisis of WWII and dealt with an early surge of Scottish nationalism in the “kidnapping” of the Stone of Scone. In the end, I think Will and Kate (and all others who might have weighed in) picked a good one.
I just hope that he grows up to inherit a united kingdom instead of a dissected one, or, according to the intentions of some big-mouthed SNP speakers, never reign over Scotland at all. In the end, it is all a very human question, and losing the historical continuity that comes with the British identity would strike at the heart of many people. I would certainly be among them, even though I am not British myself. I can’t help but feel a lump in my throat sometimes when speaking to British friends about the upcoming referendum, realizing the overwhelming cost if they should lose this battle.
They’re not overtly emotional about it; that’s not in keeping with the British way. But the depth of their concern is self-evident. I told my Scottish friend who called when the prince was named that, although I can’t do much for the cause except write articles, he can be assured of my prayers. “Thank you,” he replied. “Thank you so much. We need them.”
Comfortingly, I have heard that the numbers of would-be Unionist voters have a healthy edge on would-be Nationalist voters in the poles and things look good so far. Let’s just hope they stay that way, and for pity’s sake, have the “Better Together” Campaign make sure everyone with even an inkling of Unionist sympathy makes it to the polls on D-Day. That being said, maybe this close call in Britain’s history will have happy ending after all, and years into the future, King George VII will be sitting on the throne of a United Kingdom.
(A version of this article appeared on “Open Unionism”: http://www.openunionism.com/historical-continuity-in-the-birth-of-prince-george/)
|Will, Kate, and Geordie.....but I didn't need to tell you that, did I?|