Tuesday, December 10, 2013
By Jill Lawless and Raphael Satter / The Associated Press
(Continued from page 1)
Children have an impromptu picnic as supporters await the departure of Britain's Prince William, Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, and the Prince of Cambridge, outside the entrance of the private Lindo Wing at St. Mary's Hospital in London on Tuesday.
"Morning Granddad," said local resident Robert Barrett, which drew a chuckle from the prince.
Back in London, there was a healthy interest in the baby's name, combined with a note of concern for his future.
"I hope the child is given the opportunity to have a normal childhood," said Julie Warren, a 70-year-old retired schoolteacher waiting for her grandson outside one of the capital's subway stations.
The birth caps a resurgence in popularity for Britain's monarchy, whose members have evolved, over several decades of social and technological change, from distant figures to characters in a well-loved national soap opera.
The institution reached a popular nadir after the death of Princess Diana in a car crash in 1997. Diana had been popular, glamorous and — in the eyes of many — badly treated by the royal "Firm."
But the dignified endurance of Queen Elizabeth II — now in her 62nd year on the throne — and the emergence of an attractive young generation that includes William, his soldier-socialite brother Prince Harry and the glamorous, middle-class Kate has been a breath of fresh air for the monarchy.
The baby, born to a prince and a commoner, looks set to help the institution thrive for another generation.
"I think this baby is hugely significant for the future of the monarchy," said Kate's biographer, Claudia Joseph. "It is the first future king for 350 years to have such an unusual family tree. Not since Queen Mary II has the offspring of a 'commoner' been an heir to the throne."
That view was echoed by Pippa Rowe, head teacher at the primary school in Kate's home village of Bucklebury, west of London.
"The children have been very excited about the birth — fizzing is the word I would use," she said. "It's all the talk in the playground.
"I think this will enable the children to have a real chance to connect with the monarchy. They learn about kings and queens but we are going to have a real live prince with one set of grandparents living down the road."
For some, though, it was all a bit much.
"It's a baby, nothing else," said Tom Ashton, a 42-year-old exterminator on his way to work. "It's not going to mean anything to my life."