No rolling updates on the royal cervix, no timeline on the first twinge. This privacy wont last, says Guardian columnist Suzanne Moore
What a curious nation we are, that thinks itself modern because a man who is sixth in line to the throne marries a woman of mixed heritage but is then expected to provide a level of gynaecological detail about her pregnancy and labour that is frankly weird.
Prince Harrys goofy happiness at becoming a father is, of course, lovely to behold. No one begrudges the man who walked behind his mothers coffin a rush of joy at the birth of his first child. He is just like every other sleep-deprived new dad. So relatable, so human and ordinary.
Except none of this is ordinary even if they do call the child Arthur, as the bookies reckon. Harry announced the happy news standing in front of a yard full of horses. Where were the mother and child? In the stable? A map helpfully appeared in the Daily Mail of a possible route by which Meghan was taken to hospital. Er the quickest route, surely.
A golden easel was put up outside a palace and lots of strange women were interviewed on rolling news channels. One woman babbled on about ethnic minority balloons that she said could be bought these days, except that she struggled to pronounce ethnic minority. Then some Americans in America were asked what they thought and they said they thought that the whole of the UK was celebrating.
Is it really? The peculiar ambiguity towards Meghan persists. Parts of the press are narked that basically she isnt Kate Middleton. She committed all sorts of crimes while pregnant, from flaunting her bump to wearing coats. Her desire for a level of privacy, we keep being told, is a huge breach of royal protocol. The subtext is never far from the surface: that she is a somewhat demanding and pushy black woman.
The coverage thus involves a constant refrain of sneakiness. She wanted a home birth, like a new-age witch, but ended up going into hospital, as often happens. The press were somehow tricked, because they were not given minute-by-minute details on the dilation of her cervix. We were not even told the time of her first twinge. Off with her head.
She had been warned by experts that she might not get a home birth, given her geriatric status. At 37, there would be an increased chance that she might need some sort of medical intervention, the Mail pointed out, in the I told you so way that makes me need gas and air immediately.
What to make of this from Peter Bowen-Simpkins, a consultant obstetrician: When you have your first baby you essentially have an untried pelvis? Quick, get me the pethidine.
As if ever we needed reminding that the actual function of royal women never mind all this faff about doing stuff in private like civilians is to breed in captivity. It is part of your role, it seems, to have your reproductive system assessed by strangers in media organisations who claim to love the monarchy.
When Charles becomes king, popular support will ebb, and can only be sustained through his sons and their families. This is why the to-and-fro between the firm and this new generation over which bits of their lives are private and which bits are public property will continue, alongside dubious speculation about the skin tone of this tiny child.
It is not surprising that the younger generation of royals want to do things differently, but its a game that requires us to pretend that they are as ordinary as the rest of us. We can pretend that. They can pretend that. But its not true, is it? This baby is born into a system that ensures he will never have an ordinary life. All new babies are to be celebrated, as are the doctors and midwives who help sneak them out little princes all.
Suzanne Moore is a Guardian columnist
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