Anna Burnside: Royal baby set for life less ordinary
Dear royal sprog. If you have arrived in our world by the time this is printed, welcome.
I hope your journey down the regal birth canal was smooth and straightforward. If you have not, enjoy your last few days of blissful peace in utero. You may, in later life, come to wish you could crawl back up there.
Apologies, by the way, for the casual tone of address. At time of typing you could be a boy or a girl. Whichever flavour, you will no doubt be given one of those dreary tweedy names that your family holds so dear. In future years you will be surrounded by Rubys, Indias, Tobys and Zacks, the only Diana or George in the postcode. You may need a distinctive nickname. Please take Sprog, with my compliments.
Sprog, your life is not going to be an ordinary one. You will think it is: it’s the nature of childhood to think that one’s own experience is universal. Not everyone’s birth, for example, is preceded by the arrival of television satellite trucks from all five continents. No-one set odds on whether I, for example, would name my second child Cherry, Mango or Banana. (I’m not totally bonkers. His sister suggested the latter two.)
No commemorative plates, tea towels or ornamental thimbles were prepared in readiness for Cherry/Mango/Banana’s birth, with factories anxiously awaiting word of his/her arrival Ato press the pink or blue button. My decision to purchase an orange Bugaboo Frog pram aroused mild interest in Partick but had little effect on the company’s share price.
You, on the other hand, will be setting trends in infant accessories before you can open your eyes. The manufacturers of everything from cashmere shawls to washable nappies will be desperate for the royal gurgle of approval. And this will continue throughout your life, especially if you are a girl. Your mother can’t wear a pair of tights without everyone copying her. Your late grandmother’s wardrobe had the world in thrall. When you are old enough, Google Princess Beatrice and hat. Perhaps save the search, for future reference.
Of course, you will have family to help you through all this. And staff. Sprog, not everyone has staff.
Most of us empty our own bins, wash our own hair, cook our own meals and clean our own toilets. Some of us, to earn money, do these things for other people. For this we are paid something called the minimum wage. Your grandfather has someone to squirt the toothpaste onto his brush. Please do not grow up thinking this is normal.
Gramps has, unlike some of his siblings, done the odd useful thing. His organic foodstuffs company makes very fine lavender biscuits, although they are not compatible with that thing called the minimum wage that I mentioned earlier. (Sorry to keep on about these things, Sprog, but I feel someone has to.)
Your parents have, to some extent, rejected the quail’s egg lifestyle in favour of working, living in a cottage and shopping in a supermarket. Long may this continue. Perhaps I will bump into you in Aldi one day, being pushed around the aisles in your car seat. The one in Anniesland currently has silicone bibs with a trough at the bottom on special offer.
As you grow up, Sprog, I hope you will realise how very far from Aldi your life is. You may become aware of people like me who think the Royal Family has no place in a modern democracy. I’m a republican. There are a few of us around.
I have nothing against you personally. How could I – you haven’t even been born yet. None of us chooses our family. But you will have other chances to make choices, important ones, and to use your enormous influence for good.
It can be done. Your paternal grandmother did excellent work around Aids and landmines. She also got to dance with John Travolta. I’ve nothing against having fun (although I would rather not be funding it through my taxes). Just don’t, like Uncle Harry, make it your life’s mission. What happens in Vegas no longer stays in Vegas. It ends up on the internet faster than you can type in your wi-fi password.
On the other side of the family, Granny Carole is a different kind of role model. A former flight attendant, she set up a business selling helium balloons and party napkins. Your father’s friends sneered mightily at what they perceive to be the Middletons’ “humble” roots. Auntie Pippa and Uncle James have, since your folks got married, done very well out of these connections.
Sprog, I would hope you can take the good things from both sides of your family and make something of your life. Granny Di realised she could use the incessant attention of the media to make a difference. Your mum’s mum clearly had no fear of hard work. These are excellent qualities. Here’s hoping you have inherited them.
You will have so many opportunities in your life: to travel, to meet people, to wear amazing clothes, to treat the Tower of London like a branch of Accessorize. Please make the most of them. Persuade me that you and your family are not a waste of space, public money and prime real estate.
Over to you.