Celebrating a Royal’s birth: What does it say about modern Britain?

Congratulations to Kate and William on the birth of their son. May they and he be afforded at least some space to shape lives of their own.

The incessant media attention sure to saturate the air and print in the hours and days – and decades – ahead says more about us than them, of course. But what does it say?

One of the great lies about Republicanism is its association with meritocracy and the common man. “My birth may be no match for the King’s but my money certainly is”. In reality, Republican projects were essentially the revolt of a new monied class determined to displace the privileges of the ancient regime; privileges and wealth seen by industrialists and later the broader bourgeoisie as unfair: inherited rather than earned entitlements.

Yet for all the cries of liberté, égalité, fraternité, this new revolutionary class secured as its first priority property rights designed to codify and consolidate itself as the new class calling the shots. An interesting cultural phenomenon that accompanied the ascendancy of this new middle class was less its contempt for the “noble order” it had violently dislodged and more its repressed envy of it.

Meet the snob: a person of ‘no breeding’.

Having knocked off the nobs, the snob came to represent the rise of those with New Money and their cringe-worthy attempts to ape the wealth and status of Great House nobs who were running for cover.

As with the inherent insecurity and vulnerability of all class systems, the snob, as an individual, has long epitomized, particularly in the 19th century and right up to present times, the nervousness and bluff of individuals determined to symbolically assert their ‘status’.

Which raises a paradox: If the middle class or bourgeoisie or “rich” represent a values challenge to the old order, why on earth will every newspaper and TV show in Britain rejoice at the birth of tomorrow’s King of England (not sure Britain will still be around as we know it by then) by wallowing in the servility necessary to celebrate this ancient birth-based hereditary value system?

Why would anyone want to swear loyalty to a crown their own children will never be worthy of, regardless of the lives they lead, simply because of who their parents are not?

Strategic Communications Consultant, located in Washington, D.C.