Royalty and Celebrity

As you may have heard, Prince William and Kate Middleton aka the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, gave birth to a son yesterday. It’s not exactly been an under reported event. Indeed, I’m pretty sure it overtook news network coverage along with social media yesterday. I say pretty sure because I found out through Twitter, and I avoid news networks like the plague. Along with the MSM freak out has been a pretty steady drumbeat of disgust. Why are we interested? Other women have babies. And while yes, other women do have babies, and those in poverty face enormous obstacles to healthy birth and care for their child, I’m a little over the criticism. It’s not like William and Kate have invited millions of people into their lives and pregnancy. Nope, that would be Kim Kardashian. Yes, they live a life of privilege because of being royalty, but it’s not like they are unaware of their position of privilege or the tragedy that life under a paparazzi light microscope can lead to. They use their position to fund charities, and in some respects, do the social functions of the head of state, which means that David Cameron can get on with governing. We expect our President to do state visits, travel abroad, and govern. Royalty is a bizarre thing; you become king or queen only through the death or abdication of the previous monarch. How can you look forward to ruling when to do so means mourning your grandmother or father? The day of your coronation is also the anniversary of your loved one’s death. And we’ve turned them into media celebrities, when in fact the royal family is not the equivalent of a reality TV star.

Tess Lynch over at Grantland.com (yep, I’m now reading an ESPN website thanks to Nate Silver’s move) has a good take on the whole thing as well as this Guardian leader, although the minute by minute coverage of the couple walking outside with their baby to drive home is a bit much. In The Power of Myth, Joseph Campbell discusses how for some ancient Latin American cultures, women who had given birth were considered warriors. If the royal couple do nothing else, they’ve shown us just how normal and powerful childbirth is. They let us in because we stand around outside, demanding to be let in, not because they really want us to look.

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