So, a new prince is born! Yeh, ok…so what, right?
Well…for starters, this is a child. The next time one of your multiple Facebook friends (who you’re not in the slightest bit interested in by the way) pops one out, why not just stick “so what?” on their newsfeed? Because it’s not British, that’s why. So stop that right now.
Yes, this child has been born into a world of unending privilege. A world that, as the Twitterati so scathingly point out, is light years away from the worlds of the 1 in 3 children in the UK who are living in poverty as we speak. But I also was not born into a world of hardship. Were you? Maybe, maybe not. But the fact is, none of us can be blamed for what we are brought into.
Whatever degree of lucky the star under which you were born happened to be, none of us can relate to the life this child is about to embark on. It’s not this child’s fault that approximately one third of his birthday buddies will be born into poverty. Just like it’s none of our faults, right? The difference is, this young man will one day have the clout to change things. And people who have the power to change things, tend to be blamed for...well, not changing them. Us? Oh we’re just normal. We’re just part of the machine. It’s not our fault…right?
This child will attend the best schools; he will holiday in exotic locations, receive the finest education and become at ease with palatial surroundings. And in payment for these privileges, he will be scrutinised from this day forward. When you were three years old and your mum told you off for eating a bogey, no one else had to see it. Children launch themselves into the world, warts and all, with all their weird and wonderful little habits and personalities on full display to whoever is watching.
Lucky for us, no one was watching.
But if this kid decides to chew on a stray bogey at 3pm on some idle Thursday, it may just be in front of the whole world, this memory becoming immortalised for us all to see and remember and point and laugh at when he’s old and making “bad decisions.” Before this child is old enough to learn how he must act for the rest of time – and make no mistake, this is a binding lifetime contract – he is out there doing his thing and being scrutinised before he even knows how to chew on a rusk.
There’s no covering up those weird habits you develop as a kid. Me? I used to name my colouring pencils then walk them around as if they were little people. It wasn't overly imaginative – I'm pretty sure they were called things like “greeny” and “yellowy” – but whatever, I had no brothers or sisters until I was 11 and so, nobody to bounce prospective pencil names against.
Another friend of mine recently told me she would bully her family into watching home-made musicals and run around after the teachers in the playground because the other kids didn't “get her”. Unsurprising as she sometimes chose to speak only in Old English. Maybe if Autism had “existed” in the ‘80s, we’d both have been tested. But instead, we were pinned as “artistic”, conditioned to cover up our strange ways and allowed to get on with our lives as almost functioning adults. Luckily, everyone was too busy trying to cover up their own weird stuff to notice ours. But this kid? We’ll all notice his weird stuff.
Perhaps the Royal Family is a ridiculous British tradition that doesn't translate into modern life. But there’s a ton of other stuff that I personally think of as ridiculously British and I wouldn't give up for anything. Will this child ever get to have a cuppa, a microwave burger and a bourbon cream round a mate’s house after going to the inflatables at the swimming baths? Will he be out obsessively knocking a tennis ball around the street for two weeks every June, before retiring the racket to the back of the garage for another lonely 11 months? Will he spend many happy Christmases watching someone getting blown up in the Eastenders special, whilst lying on the rug because all the older (and therefore higher in the pecking order) family members have flaked out on the sofas in paper hats, tentatively holding a sherry? Will he have to eat dinner on special occasions whilst perched on a garden chair or piano stool for the same hierarchical reasons? I bet he won’t. And that’s a shame.
Yes this child is born into a life of privilege. But the price he must pay is high. His life is not his own. There are kids on the other side of the coin who, it might be said, have no chance. But some of them will slip through the Dangerous Minds net. Not enough, of course. But some. For these children, we hold onto the hope that you never know what can happen. You never know what’s around the corner.
But this child’s life is mapped. And the phrase “anything can happen” suddenly doesn't seem like such good news for a young prince waiting in the wings of a restless country. I’d imagine “The Unknown” raises all sorts of terrifying prospects when you’re set to take the helm of the United Kingdom in the middle to later part of the first century of this new millennium. But the show must go on.
This baby's path is written. His childhood is the only time he gets to be even vaguely carefree. I hope the world gives him his chance.