Mark Steel: Joyful birth hits world pause button as commoners hang on every word

George, the Prince of Cambridge. Photo / AP
George, the Prince of Cambridge. Photo / AP

What a week! Oh such boundless joy that transports us to the very heavens!

"The world waits" were the words the BBC put up, and indeed the whole world was thinking of nothing else. Somali fishermen abandoned their nets, saying, "Today I cannot concentrate on mackerel to feed my village." In shanty towns of Sao Paolo, the destitute stopped begging to mark the event, declaring, "The breaking of the royal waters certainly puts our trifles into perspective."

Then he came, and even before we saw him we could tell he was majestic, glorious, divine, and the rest of us should show our gratitude by self-harming with scissors, as a sign of our pathetic humility next to his exalted magnificence.

Prince William put the baby in the car and drove off, we were told. That's royal upbringing for you. Because us commoners usually get everything mixed up, putting a nappy on the car and pouring petrol over the baby.

By now the merchandise was on sale, as thankful subjects bought royal baby mugs and tea towels, and even in deprived housing estates, joyous common-folk celebrated by buying commemorative crack, stamped with royal approval to mark the event with regal hallucinations. Soon, we hope, it will be announced that the royal placenta will be put on display in Westminster Abbey, so ecstatic well-wishers can queue for several months to get a glimpse, with a special book in which they can leave their comments, which the new prince can read at his leisure once he becomes King.

Cannons were fired, guards played Congratulations, and it would have been quite believable if Huw Edwardes had said "Next, in keeping with the ancient tradition going back to the birth of King Henry III, a camel will be exploded within the grounds of Windsor Castle."

The BBC informed us there'd be updates throughout the night on our news channels, which was an immense relief, because otherwise how would we know of any developments unfolding in the life of this one-day-old baby? What if, at three in the morning, he started to fly? Without regular updates throughout the night we'd have to wait until the morning to find out.

In between the most exciting points, the news channels discussed the implications of all this with objective commentators, such as the editor of Majesty magazine, and a spokesperson from Debretts. Some stuck to constitutional matters, such as whether Chris Froome and Andy Murray should hand their trophies to the royal baby, as they are in truth the prince's achievements.

Others just beamed with submissive glee, and one chap from a royal magazine was so excited he made a sort of "Wheeey" noise, though I think what he was trying to say was, "It's so wonderful that I've ejaculated, on behalf of Her Majesty's loyal subjects of my humble dominion nation."

One point they agreed on is that the current adoration of the royal family assures the monarchy's survival for generations, their popularity back to historic levels. We haven't just gone back 20 years, we've gone back past Victorian times when the rise of democracy made royalty seem outdated.

We've gone back past the 1790s, when Tom Paine's Rights of Man became one of the biggest best-sellers ever, for declarations such as the idea of a hereditary ruler is as ridiculous as the idea of a hereditary mathematician. In the current climate it seems certain they'll give that a try.

Occasionally, I confess, I've had the thought that if you really care for this new-born baby, you'd want the monarchy abolished so he could lead a human life, rather than one beholden to duty with no room for emotion, his every moment pored over by sycophantic idiots, every decision made for him according to the requirements of the Palace.

But then I banish these devilish notions, and thank the Lord we're not like North Korea, where the way they fawn before their unelected head of state is clearly bonkers.


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