We are delighted at the news that a new addition (or additions) are on the way in the royal family; the announcement that Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge is pregnant with the eventual heir to the throne is cause for celebration, and an opportunity to reflect upon a modernising monarchy.
The Red And The Blue wishes to minute hearty congratulations to their Royal Highnesses, William and Kate, on the announcement of the Duchess’ pregnancy with their first child.
It is to be hoped the pregnancy progresses smoothly, and that the condition for which Kate has been hospitalised — hyperemesis gravidarum, or a rare form of extreme morning sickness — is a hiccup in what we trust will be an enjoyable and otherwise trouble-free pregnancy experience.
It is necessary to make the observation that the Duchess is at high risk of miscarriage; the very early announcement (she is believed to be four weeks pregnant) combined with the morning sickness affliction means that it’s too early to be certain the pregnancy is viable.
But we will assume, and fervently hope, that it is.
The royal baby will some day be heir to the British throne; third in the line of succession, behind Prince Charles and Prince William.
Thanks to the abolition of the law of primogeniture — simply, the principle that male children always take precedence in the line of succession — Kate’s child will some day be the monarch irrespective of gender.
Much has been made in media reports across the world today that the condition the Duchess has been hospitalised for also predisposes her to a greater chance of bearing twins; in such an eventuality, it is the child born first who will become the eventual heir to the throne.
Were such an eventuality to transpire, it literally would be — to use an old idiom — “an heir and a spare.”
Readers will know that I am a devout constitutional monarchist, and for that reason alone I am greatly pleased to hear the news that became public at about 8.30pm last night in London (7.30am, AEDT).
Readers may or may not know, however, that my wife and I are also expecting: our second child is due in mid-February, and to that end I can relate (and, as appropriate, sympathise) with the life-changing experience William and Kate now find themselves embarking upon.
And it will be life-changing, because the Duke and Duchess — more than any generation of royals that preceded them — are determined to live as their own people.
I have always had a lot of time for William; I don’t subscribe to the cack-brained popular view that he should automatically become King when his grandmother dies, but I do think he will make a fine King one day.
And I am already on the record in describing Kate as a lovely girl, pretty as hell, and who on the personal level will be precisely the foil William requires as he assumes ever more responsibility, and ultimately becomes King.
William and Kate represent the future of the monarchy; contemporary, well-adjusted and independently minded, the traditionalism of William and freshness of Kate have breathed fresh life into public affection for this ancient, yet critical, institution.
The monarchy is modernising; the fact William was able to marry a commoner is a good example of the institution adapting to the times; the removal of the law of primogeniture and the lifting of the bar on a future monarch marrying a Catholic (Charles and Camilla) are others.
There is every indication that the British monarchy is becoming an institution far more representative of, and relevant to, the lives of its subjects, both in Britain and around the Commonwealth.
And we will see more of the monarchy in Australia, and of William and Kate especially; as the years have passed and the means to travel have become easier, our sovereign and her heirs have visited more and more often; Charles even lived here for a time, and there is ample evidence that his deep love and real affection for Australia and Australians is well-shared by his eldest son.
In Australia, approval of the monarchy has recovered in recent years, and now sits just below 60%; I would be surprised to see this country become a republic in my lifetime, and as I’m 40 I would like to think that that will not be for many years yet.
And the monarchy does matter in Australia; by accident of history, it confers upon us the best system of government in the form of constitutional monarchy; as I have argued many times with many people, it’s not necessary to “love” to royal family to appreciate the system it confers upon us — nor to recognise the pitfalls and dangers inherent in the alternative.
For now though — in forsaking an argument — I close as I started; wishing the Duke and Duchess the very best with their pregnancy experience, and deepest congratulations on the news of their impending arrival.
Oh, for what it’s worth — George for a boy, and Elizabeth for a girl…
God Save The Kid!