What if he's gay? Royal baby questions answered

Prince William and Catherine Middleton are the proud parents of a baby boy. Photo / AP
Prince William and Catherine Middleton are the proud parents of a baby boy. Photo / AP

Monarchy New Zealand chair Sean Palmer joined us at 12:30pm for a live chat about the royal baby.

Here are his responses to some of the more interesting and tricky questions put to him by nzherald.co.nz readers:

Why is this one baby more important than the 300 other babies born in NZ today?
- Tom Lowden

Sean Palmer: I would say that the national focus is on this baby at the moment, because this baby will live it's entire life in the service of all New Zealanders. The monarchy is deeply entrenched in our society, constitution and culture.

So do you really support an outdated institution where people are given fantastic wealth and privilege just because of who gave birth to them?
- Dean Thompson

Firstly, constitutional monarchies are constantly evolving and renewing themselves (look at the changes to the rules of succession currently before parliament), in some ways we have the most advanced form of constitution in the world. Secondly, the private wealth of the royal family would not change depending on whether or not they provided our head of state. The royals devote an enormous amount of their time to good causes and social benefit. Prince Charles for example, raises $200 million New Zealand dollars for charities around the world every year. I think it's great that we can call upon these people to do this work for us.

If this Prince is gay, what would happen once it comes time to crown him? Can he and his partner both be kings? If not, should the Crown not set an example by amending the rules now?
- Tom

Traditionally a male that marries a reigning sovereign becomes a "Prince Consort". That would probably happen, in the event of a gay king. There have been gay and bi-sexual kings and queens in the past, though they did not marry people of the same gender, so there would be historical precedent.

If Wills is 31 then presumably this baby not be the King in the Palace for another 50 or 60 years? Can we bypass Charles and go straight to William or does the royal family decide?
- Beth

Parliament makes decisions about who is our monarch is. However, the longer the royals have to prepare for the top job, the more experience they have and the better they'll do. Besides, I think Charles will be a great king, just look at his track record on environment and social issues.

What if this kid turns out to be a jerk? We could have an embarrassment for a king.
- Joffrey

When Kiwis allow their head of state to be chosen through the randomness of birth, what we are saying is that we have equal faith in all humans to be capable of doing the job. We don't need a grimy political process, or to let people buy their way to the top. This child was going to be sovereign, regardless of whether it was male or female, gay or straight, tall or short, healthy or unhealthy. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, and what some people call a jerk, others call a friend.

Would it have been more meaningful if the royal baby had been a girl? (Since there have been less queens than kings)?
- Emily

The changes to the rules of succession would have come into effect immediately, if the baby had been a girl and that certainly would have been interesting. (I'm pleased that we made those changes on principle). I would point out, that since the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, New Zealand has had a female head of state for 70% of the time. No other constitutional system has ever provided that sort of gender balance. I think that's something Kiwis can be proud of.

Would you agree that the monarchy forms part of our cultural heritage in NZ? And should be preserved in the same way we rightly preserve and respect other cultural institutions, such as Te Reo?
- Jim

That is a great question. I absolutely do agree that the monarchy is not just about future Royals and present day constitutional matters, it also connects us to the past. Fortunately, because it's not a static point in history, it's something constantly evolving to suit the needs of New Zealand. It also has the capacity to incorporate other cultures and strengthen the ties between all Kiwis regardless of their backgrounds.

- nzherald.co.nz

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