It's been several decades since the United Kingdom had a chance to toast the birth of a future king. Prince William was born on June 21, 1982, the first child of Prince Charles and Princess Diana. When the news was released, corks popped on British Airways flights all over the world as the country's national airline handed out a free round of champagne to all its passengers. "Great Britain has cause to celebrate," the flight attendants announced over the intercom.
Now, 31 years later, the nation is celebrating the birth of "Baby Cambridge." William Wales is now the Duke of Cambridge, and he was of course present at the birth. His son weighs 3.8 kilograms (8.4 pounds). That's all that has been announced so far. The nation will have to wait a little longer for the name of the child -- but it's likely to be another traditional one.
The birth of a new heir to the throne is an even bigger event in 2013 than it was in 1982. That's partly because the appetite of the world's media for celebrity news has grown exponentially. But there's another reason: The House of Windsor has risen back from the ashes of scandal, tragedy and unpopularity, and its future is looking bright again.
Throughout history, births at the royal court were of existential importance. Kings were prepared to commit murder to secure themselves a healthy heir because they knew that a baby secures the dynasty. That rule continues to apply in the 21st century, though in a slightly altered form. The modern monarchy depends largely on the goodwill of the people. And nothing warms people's hearts more than a baby in the palace.
For the Royal Family, the birth is the second key event after the wedding of William and Kate in April 2011 which turned the fairytale bride into the family's main attraction. Giving birth has catapulted her to the giddy heights that only the young Queen Elizabeth II and Diana reached before her.
Kate and the baby are a PR gift for the strategists of the royal household. Countless marketing and PR experts watch over the Windsor brand. They've been trying for years to rejuvenate the dust-coated image of the institution, known internally as "the Firm." They've nudged William, Kate and Harry into the foreground, with some success. Surveys show that the trio appeals to younger generations, unlike the ranks of middle-aged and elderly family members.
The baby has triggered the next wave of enthusiasm for the monarchy -- at least in the newspapers and broadcast media. "The media likes to regurgitate the official line that the monarchy profits from these events," said Graham Smith, the chief executive of the pressure group Republic, which campaigns for the abolition of the monarchy. But there's no hard evidence, he said, pointing to surveys that don't show any rise in support for the monarchy as a result of the baby's birth.
But there's huge interest in the little prince, not just in Britain but far beyond its borders. Kate and William would now become role model for parents around the world and that the baby was "already a figure of international influence" before it was even born.
A measure of that influence will soon become visible to all: in the global rankings of child names.
By Guylain Gustave Moke
Photo-Credit: Reuters: William and Kate wedding photo