I was in fact in London over the bank holiday weekend when The Blessed Event happened. Now, lest I be accused of being overly snarky about the healthy birth of a little girl, I am pleased that Mom and Baby are doing well. I wish her nothing but the best. Truly.
I was made aware of The Birth by a passing Hackney cab – it was a traditional London black cab just painted white – and festooned with a triangular screen perched atop the cab that decried It’s A Girl in bright, sparkly letters. This cab made a sharp right turn off Upper Street and onto a small side street and it wasn’t the glittering screen that caught my eye, rather it was a Dad dragging a large suitcase, being followed by his two girls, shouting obscenities at the cab (which I think hadn’t stopped to pick him up) that alerted me to the situation. And then of course the screen was so shiny that I had to look.
What really irks me is this over-zealous excitement about A Baby Princess that drives me bonkers. Actually, it’s our whole obsession with Princesses that’s currently doing my head in. Surely our little girls can aspire to more. I know I’m not the only one who thinks this.
To fully appreciate the scene into which this baby has been born, let me remind you of a bit of context: The UK is having an election, and it’s more than the usual two or three parties in contention for a fair haul of parliamentary seats. One party in particular, UKIP (who appear to be anti pretty much everything that’s normal like immigration and pro pretty ridiculous things like letting people smoke in pubs again) are making me quite nervous. Especially since I’m an immigrant myself. The thing is, the Tories and these UKIP folks could potentially use the birth to their advantage – ah, Best of British, More of This Kind of Thing, The Birth is surely a sign that the values of Our Party is The Only One. And so on and so forth. Politicians, you know what they’re like: anything for a boost in the polls. It’s important before an election – one in which immigration figures heavily – to appear as British as possible, so you know, praising or being somehow involved in A Royal Birth is pretty much a Godsend.
Beyond all the politicking though, there will, I’m fairly certain, be a fresh wave of All Things Princess. Already, when I was at the M&S in Paddington Station, there was a box of commemorative biscuits congratulating the happy couple on this momentous occasion. And I imagine that a further wave of little girls dreaming that they too can be relieved of all the problems in their lives by one day marrying their own prince. I should think The Queen et al are rushing to get Harry married off, lest another pleb get ideas above her station.
For the most part ,the royal family don’t really feature in my day-to-day life here. They’re sort of like mascots that you know are going to be dragged out when Something Important/Awful happens. But these days, what with all the austerity going around, it’s starting to feel like keeping them on the national pay roll is a bit more trouble than it’s worth. And now a new generation of girls will grow up wanting to live in a castle (which is probably droughty), and have what looks, kinda, sorta, if you squint, like a beautiful life (though, through my large, owlish glasses it looks like the dullest life ever, standing round pretending to be interested in all sorts of dull things like openings of centres and cutting ribbons). The fact that this wee girl will grow up and not really have the chance to become whatever it is she fancies (doctor, gymnast, astronaut, hairdresser) is quite sad I think. Sure, she won’t have to worry so much about money, but the list of banal things she will have to worry about is probably endless.
It might be nice, actually, and a bit of a public service, if someone would commission a Real Housewives of New Jersey version of being a princess. That might discourage more girls and it might also generate a bit of empathy or depth of understanding for the royal family.