It was the week in which the royal family's ongoing Nappy Offensive against republicanism marched on.

The birth of Prince Louis was marked in New Zealand's Parliament by a motion without notice, a somewhat appropriate title when it comes to babies.

There to watch party leaders speak to this motion was British High Commissioner Laura Clarke, waiting to send a dispatch back on how sentiment was shaping up.

It would have been a most entertaining dispatch as party leaders spanning the spectrum from monarchist to republican stood to speak.


Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is in the category of republican in the slow lane. She believes New Zealand will become a republic in her lifetime but not on her watch.

From her speech, Clarke would have learned about the medicinal benefits of manuka. Ardern spoke of manuka being incorporated into the design on a blanket gifted to Louis and added "manuka is a very special indigenous plant both beautiful and useful for its healing properties".

We also learned someone (likely Prince William who sat next to Ardern at the Queen's banquet in London recently) had told Ardern that Hairy Maclary from Donaldson's Dairy was already a favourite among the royal offspring – it had been part of a gift to Prince George on the royal visit in 2014.

Monarchist Simon Bridges packed his full of adjectives. Heartfelt, bonny, radiant. He assured William and Catherine "we are all with them as they raise their beautiful young boy" albeit at a safe enough distance not to be woken by the screaming.

Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson is ambivalent about the monarchy. But she not ambivalent about babies and Prince Louis was no exception, whatever number he was in line to the throne. Her speech began somewhat alarmingly by appraising Prince Louis as if he was a steak. She referred to his birth weight of almost nine pounds, adding "which is good, which is well done".

Davidson is something of an expert on childbirth. She is one shy of being able to form a Sevens team from her children. So much of her speech was dedicated to Louis' mother Catherine who appeared for the cameras within hours of giving birth.

Davidson wound up by singing a waiata she composed for her own children, a lullaby about a jiggling, smiling, laughing baby which ends with a mother's universal plea: "time for bed, sleep, sleep well".

Quite what Clarke would have made of what this meant for any simmering republican uprising in New Zealand is hard to tell.


But the royal family – or the Queen at least – is on constant watch for signs its influence is on the wane among those of its former colonies which still call the Queen the boss.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern meets the Queen at Buckingham Palace. Photo / AP
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern meets the Queen at Buckingham Palace. Photo / AP

One trick is face time.

Former Prime Minister John Key began his own time a soft monarchist and emerged an ardent one, courtesy of his own visits to royal climes such as Balmoral and royal visits to New Zealand.

Ardern too has now visited royals and their palaces aplenty in London last month.

She was one of the few Commonwealth leaders who publicly backed Prince Charles to take over as head of the Commonwealth after the Queen prior to the leaders' meeting. She also claimed to be quite an admirer of Charles for his stance on climate change.

The rather artificial deadline given for New Zealand to give more than a passing glance at republicanism is traditionally the death of the Queen – or to put it more delicately, the start of the reign of Charles.

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Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern discusses visit to London, and discussing international challenges with world leaders.

The Queen's length of tenure has ensured she has loyalty – the challenge is to ensure that passes on to her heirs and successors.

The key trick in ensuring this seems to be to have babies who grow into semi-interesting and approachable young adults who then go on to have more babies.

An occasional wedding also helps things along enormously.

In that respect, it is Prince William and Prince Harry who have been public relations gold for the monarchy. They have almost single-handedly made the monarchy seem a far less distant institution.

A monarchy is only as good as the monarch.

If a monarch is well-regarded, no government is likely to take the political risk of kicking off the process for constitutional change. Provided Charles can hold things together until William gets his turn, we are destined to see a long string of Prime Ministers insisting it will happen but not on their watch.