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?

  • michael-mcivor

    Gun salutes across London tonight to mark the birth of the new royal-sandhurst will already be marked out and depending which british regiments are left in the future after the cuts there is a new officer on the way-guns will be a big part in that young mites life as he has now joined the most military/militant family in the world-

  • Zig70

    Ffs, another mouth to feed.

    I’d be in favour of a yearly lottery to pick a royal family. The tickets would make a fortune of the prols.

  • Mick Fealty

    The piece is as much about the persistence of elites in a Republic as an attempt to critique constitutional monarchy… Here’s my own attempt from a few years ago:

    http://sluggerotoole.com/2011/05/24/on-the-bearable-lightness-of-the-modern-monarchy/

  • It means you still can fool some of the people all of the time…

    As Mick suggests, that doesn’t mean just wrt royal families.

  • JR

    Well, as anyone out there with children knows the birth of your first child is something you never forget. I don’t know if William will be pacing the floors at 3 and 4 in the morning for the next 6 weeks as I was but if he is i wish him luck. Also to our monarchist friends on this site, I don’t know if congratulations is the right word but congratulations and enjoy the show.

    On the media, i personally think 24 rolling news is a bit much on this story. Young married couple have baby, its hardly revolutionary.

    My thoughts are in relation to monarchy in general are that it seems to be a bit of a guided cage. I wouldn’t want it for my kids.

  • cynic2

    I am with you on the issue of elites Mick.

    Look at the Republic.

    We have the recent example of the bankers. Thats bad enough but where else could a former Irish Prime Minister manage to conceal across a 40 year career that on the even of the Easter Rising he shot dead his 2 year old brother and there was no instigation, no inquiry, no accountability whatsoever and it never cost him a single vote. The poor child was just buried and forgotten while he made much of the death of his other brother in the civil war

    Thats how rel elites work

  • JR

    Cynic 2,
    Despite being massively off topic i should point out to you that when sean lemass seemingly accidentally shot his two year old brother Ireland was under British rule, and would be for another 6 years. any investigation or lack of was therefore an issue of British justice, not Irish.

    If your comment is a swipe at the lack of quality of presidents as opposed to monarchs in general, look no further than the crimes of the British royal families through the years. I assure you there is no shortage of uninvestigated murders of uncles, wives, nephews, cousins, political opponents, clergymen (catholic and Protestant) I could go on.

  • cynosure

    i like the way the S of nobs, has shifted to the front for snob.

    anyway, i’d like to offer congrats to our monarchist brethren. though a republican, it seems churlish to make any snide remarks on the birth of a child. may he have a long and healthy life and may he be a good king too.

    my wife pointed out that if it had been a girl, and imagining she was the father, she would have wanted to name the child after her dead mother. i wonder how that would have played out?

  • socaire

    You can just imagine them rifling through the congrats cards from the 6 counties to see if their employees have all sent one. We know that the SDLP, who have sworn fealty, will have stepped up but what about the other British stooges? Another Protestant monarch for a Muslim people?

  • cynic2

    JR

    Mick raised the issue of elites. I responded. Its called a conversation.

    I agree fully on the justice issue. But my point ws clear. For 50 years Lemass was a central figure ion Irish politics but this whole issue was hushed up because of the cosy little cabal that is the Irish Political Class. Thats not a dig at Ireland per se….the same happens in any small state where you have an introverted politician; class who all grow up together, go to the same schools, same churches, same clubs to the point where the electors can change the way they vote but in effect it doesnt matter a damn as the same people and policies trundle on

  • cynic2

    JR

    By the way …Ireland was just one example that came to hand. You can apply the same to say Belgium or even arguably for the last 40 years to France – though that is stretching it a bit more

  • JR

    Cynic 2,

    Again while I do not want to defend the Irish political class, the british political class is without doubt much more eliteist. You mention schools, David Cameron is the 19th Prime minister to come through Eton. One school with just over 1000 pupils in a country with a population of 63 million people. I would say Ireland has the opposite problem. People are more likely to elect the village idiot or the local stroke than anyone who could be described as elite.

    “the electors can change the way they vote but in effect it doesnt matter a damn as the same people and policies trundle on” On this we agree but again I personally think it’s is off topic for the thread

  • tacapall

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

    Well what else does it say other than Britain is not modern, not cosmopolitan nor secular at all. I found it appalling that this perceived genetically superior human being, not even a few hours old, was being touted as the future head of state of 16 countries, the future leader of the Church of England and the future commander in chief of the British armed forces never mind his automatic right to tamper or refuse to enact laws that would be perceived by his kind as being a threat to his privileged lifestyle. I would congratulate the two people on the birth of their son but at the same time wonder how anyone could accept that this child is more worthy than any other or that this child by right of birth be given a free ride in life.

  • glenda lough

    I see that Prince William, in deference to modern fashion, was with Kate for the birth, but surely it was sufficient that he was present at the conception?

  • Red Lion

    Tac,

    “”Well what else does it say other than Britain is not modern, not cosmopolitan nor secular at all.””

    Except it is, Britain is modern, cosmopolitan and secular. I’m sure you already knew that. It is also cool, quirky, vibrant.

    Most British people can live with an unelected figurehead. Its no big deal. Its the Prime Minister who has the power. But I’m sure you knew that too.

  • Reader

    tacapall: I found it appalling that this perceived genetically superior human being, not even a few hours old, was being touted as the future head of state of 16 countries, the future leader of the Church of England and the future commander in chief of the British armed forces never mind his automatic right to tamper or refuse to enact laws that would be perceived by his kind as being a threat to his privileged lifestyle.
    Ah, if only it was such a non-issue. This is what you need to be concerned about:
    http://www.thedailymash.co.uk/news/society/storm-over-london-may-be-connected-to-doom-laden-event-2013072376587
    Already, MI5 are infiltrating the Met Office to ensure that all records are destroyed.

  • tacapall

    Red Lion obviously you also believe all those Hans Christian Andersen stories too. Yes there’s all sorts of cultures and religions residing in Britain, but can that figurehead choose which one they adhere to throughout their life, can the Prime minister or indeed Westminster send the country to war or pass any laws without that figureheads consent. Its no big deal to you as maybe your British but to me who’s Irish and a republican living in a part of Ireland that thon figurehead claims they own, it matters a lot.

  • tacapall

    Fascinating article Reader, isn’t this as strange.

    Which one are you –

    “Recent studies by psychologists and social scientists in the US and UK suggest that contrary to mainstream media stereotypes, those labeled “conspiracy theorists” appear to be saner than those who accept the official versions of contested events”

    http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2013/07/12/313399/conspiracy-theorists-vs-govt-dupes/

  • Reader

    tacapall: Which one are you
    I loved this bit:
    “The authors were surprised to discover that it is now more conventional to leave so-called conspiracist comments than conventionalist ones: “Of the 2174 comments collected, 1459 were coded as conspiracist and 715 as conventionalist.” In other words, among people who comment on news articles, those who disbelieve government accounts of such events as 9/11 and the JFK assassination outnumber believers by more than two to one. That means it is the pro-conspiracy commenters who are expressing what is now the conventional wisdom, while the anti-conspiracy commenters are becoming a small, beleaguered minority.
    The author of the press tv article is spinning the research like crazy – conspiracy theorists leave more comments : therefore : cockup theorists are crazy. You’ll be going creationist next (same logic…)
    By the way – have a look at the comments following the article. Apparently, lots of people think there were no planes involved in 9/11 at all. Others think there were planes, and they fired missiles before they hit the towers. 1,2,3,4 Keep counting – but they aren’t convincing me.
    And one pair of comments was the most fun – the author of the study complained about the journalist’s interpretation of the study, to which the journo replied: “But there are a large number of publications that simply take the OCT for granted, while there are not so many that take its falsity for granted. So the current situation, in which the OCT remains the default position, is the product of ignorance and complacency.
    Well, dagnabbit, it turns out that most scientists, engineers and journalists don’t believe in 9/11 conspiracy theories. Who would have thunk it?

  • Desmond Trellace

    Congratulations to all young couples who have become parents on ths day.

    The tabloids here in Germany have the birth as a lead story, the quality press are reporting on it as a secondary story. Even though Germany is a republic, there are still very many Germans who follow the royal stories. It makes one think that the concept of of royalty has hung around too long to avoid being dumped into the same skip as trash celebrity.

  • tacapall

    Reader I guess I just inherited my open mind from those ancestors of mine somewhere along the line who obviously didn’t believe the world was flat or that the sun revolved around earth.

    If you wish to disagree with the article then post a comment on the site but dont expect me to comment on your observations I didn’t write the article.

  • Red Lion

    Tacapall

    “”Its no big deal to you as maybe your British but to me who’s Irish and a republican living in a part of Ireland that thon figurehead claims they own, it matters a lot.””

    Now c’mon Tac, the GFA cleared this one up.

    All those range of religions and ethnicities in GB congratulating on the birth of the future monarch don’t seem too bothered about the C of E position. It’s a quirk of history the religious thing and in modern vibrant secular Britain such nuances mean very little. People have the right not to like the constitutional monarchy though as a system of government for the UK though, so fill your boots if it bothers you so.

    The monarchy is an empty figurehead in passing laws and has no power. You know this.

  • Reader

    tacapall: Reader I guess I just inherited my open mind from those ancestors of mine somewhere along the line who obviously didn’t believe the world was flat or that the sun revolved around earth.
    I don’t associate conspiracy theories with an open mind – I associate them with a failure to accommodate the full richness and complexity (the sheer chaos) of human existence. A conspiracy theorist wants an all-encompassing explanation for a whole mess of observations spawned by the actions of 7 billion human beings each going earnestly about their business. A person who believes in one conspiracy theory is that much likely to believe in another, and probably blame the same sinister group of people for it all.
    As a result, we are asked to believe that the same people who can’t organise a piss up in a brewery are capable of running massive secret conspiracies involving hundreds of people (9/11).

  • tacapall

    Red Lion the good Friday agreement cleared what up ?

    I dont think it says anywhere in the GFA that everyone from both communities must accept the concept of the monarchy or the idea of privileged birth, nor does it say you cant still be a republican and express those republican views, whether your a protestant republican or a catholic republican, in a peaceful non violent fashion.

    “The monarchy is an empty figurehead in passing laws and has no power. You know this.”

    No, I know differently

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2012/aug/31/secret-royal-veto-powers-exposed?newsfeed=true

    “Information commissioner orders release of guide to how Queen and Prince Charles must be consulted before laws are passed

    Lord Berkeley, a Labour peer who was told to seek Charles’s consent on a marine navigation bill, said the commissioner’s decision was “absolutely right”. He said publication could shed light on a little-known procedure that allows the prince and the Queen “to fiddle around with bills to make sure they don’t affect their private interests”.

  • Red Lion

    Tac, the GFA cleared this bit up

    “”in a part of Ireland that thon figurehead claims they own””

    same old republican reterick. the British figurehead doesn’t claim she owns it, the consent agreement was enshrined. Its republican propaganda language to say the Queen claims she owns NI.

    Did you miss this following bit of my previous post?–

    “””People have the right not to like the constitutional monarchy though as a system of government for the UK though, so fill your boots if it bothers you so.””

    If you’d taken that on board you’d have saved yourself the need to type out your second para. As stated protest away in peaceful non violent fashion. And expect those of us who do not see a republic as a system of government as superior to a constitutional monarchy to mildly talk back. I’m sure you can find a few British republicans to protest alongside.

    Thank for the last wee guardian snippet, its sort of interesting. But we all know its Westminster does the law-making.

    And so to bed

  • tacapall

    “I don’t associate conspiracy theories with an open mind ”

    Agreed, I just think they have a heightened sense of awareness, but unlike yourself I’m not a professor or physiologist I have no initials after my name. Im just someone with an open mind who although might be surprised and taken aback by some events knows from experience not to believe the official version of events just because the media says so.

  • michael-mcivor

    Desmond Trellace-

    ” Even though Germany is a republic ”

    Yet despite the big leaks from them the british army will still be in Germany until 2020-but it will be another area of the world where this new born king will not serve in when he grows up-

  • The Yorkshire saying “There’s nowt so queer as folk” just means “People are weird, there’s no accounting.

  • alanwood

    I too would like to congratulate Kate and William having a baby. I have read and seen in the news yesterday.
    tui life style