Share This Page

Baby fervor boosts royals in the eyes of Britons

| Tuesday, July 23, 2013, 9:54 p.m.
Reuters
Chelsea pensioners toast the birth of a baby boy born to Britain's Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge at the Royal Chelsea Hospital in London on Tuesday, July 23, 2013.
The King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery fires a Royal Gun Salute on Tuesday, July 23, 2013, in London's Green Park to mark the birth of the so of Prince William and Kate, Duchess of Cambridge.

LONDON — A crowd cheered, hundreds of cameras clicked and an image of familial perfection was beamed around the world.

Prince William, his wife Kate and their infant son, the Prince of Cambridge, emerged on Tuesday from London's St. Mary's Hospital to start a new chapter in their lives — capping a remarkable turnaround for a monarchy that had ended the 20th century at a low point of popularity.

The outpouring of public and official enthusiasm — including artillery salutes, marching bands and landmarks illuminated blue for the royal baby boy — showed that Britain's royal family is back in its subjects' affections, especially now that it has an adorable infant heir, third in line to the throne, who could be king into the 22nd century.

“It's had its ups and downs in public opinion,” said veteran royal commentator Dickie Arbiter. “But in the last 20 years it has had more ups than downs.”

Pictures of William, Kate and their baby, whose given names have yet to be announced, echoed a similar image taken 31 years ago, when Prince Charles and Princess Diana left the same hospital with baby William in their arms.

William and Kate looked much more relaxed than the awkward Charles and Diana, and within a few years the older couple's image of regal domestic bliss had been comprehensively trashed.

By the late 1980s and early '90s, the royal family was making headlines for the wrong reasons. More often than not, the stories were about marital troubles among the children of Queen Elizabeth II, especially for Charles and his unhappy wife, Diana.

The divorce or separation of three of the monarch's four children in 1992, along with a damaging fire at Windsor Castle, led the queen — in a rare admission of private feeling — to dub it a horrible year, her “annus horribilis.”

Then, in 1997, came Diana's death in a car crash — a personal tragedy that became a crisis for the monarchy. Warm, glamorous and unhappy in her royal marriage, Diana had — in the eyes of many — been badly treated by the royal “Firm.” The queen and other senior royals, caught by surprise by an outpouring of public grief at her death, appeared cold and remote.

But that image has since been transformed, partly because of the dignified endurance of Queen Elizabeth II, now in her 62nd year on the throne. At 87, she is the only monarch most Britons have ever known, a reassuring presence at the heart of national life who has in recent years given public hints of her private sense of humor — even agreeing to appear alongside Daniel Craig's James Bond in a short film for the 2012 Olympics opening ceremony.

If the queen gives the family gravitas, the emergence of an attractive young generation that includes William; his soldier-socialite brother, Prince Harry; and the glamorous, middle-class Kate gives it celebrity.

The baby adds a new layer of stability to help the institution thrive for another generation. For the first time since the 19th-century reign of Queen Victoria, Britain has three generations of living heirs to the throne — Prince Charles, William and his baby son.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.