Two cheers for William, Kate and the royal bundle

The News TribuneJuly 25, 2013 

George Alexander Louis – lovely baby. Kate Middleton and Prince William – lovely parents.

Of course, you can run into lovely parents and babies in Tacoma, Puyallup or Lakewood any day of the week.

We hate to splash cold water on the cherub before he’s christened, but let’s examine the royal doings in Britain from a small-r republican point of view.

Give Middleton and William this: They’re more engaging than most of their noble predecessors. They act like down-to-earth people you might want to hang out with, not warmed over stiffs from the set of “Downton Abbey.”

But what, exactly, did they do to earn the adulation of the English-speaking world? Basically, zilch.

In William’s case, he picked the right father, who picked the right mother, who picked the right father, and so on. Appealing young man, but if he weren’t the firstborn of Prince Charles, heir to the throne, and the grandson of Elizabeth II, no one on this side of the pond would have heard of him.

The dirty little secret of European aristocracy is that it ultimately traces back to brutality and battle axes. Conquering warlords, some with a sneaking resemblance to Conan, grabbed the land and the loot, decapitated the old management, moved their stuff into the castles and consigned the natives to peasantry. Let’s not get overly sentimental about royal blood.

Middleton was born a commoner; no footmen, childhood titles or summer palaces for her. She’s a natural celebrity, but even naturals need dumb luck to reach international stardom.

Had she not stumbled upon the prince at college and into the royal limelight, the fashion world might never have discovered her very considerable sense of style. The world’s millinery industry might never have felt the Kate Effect. Her Royal Highness might never have been crowned Hat Person of the Year by the Headwear Association.

It’s conceivable that Prince William, the Duchess of Cambridge and their newborn Prince George will rise above the life of royal ceremony and privilege, and achieve something commensurate with their majesty.

The odds aren’t in their favor, though. Look at Westminster Abbey, which entombs not only aristocrats, but also commoners who distinguished themselves by accomplishment.

There’s not much overlap. Westminster is infested with the bones of bygone nobles you’ve never heard of: princes and princesses, dukes and duchesses, barons, counts and countesses, lords and ladies. But the lowborn interred there include the likes of Newton, Dickens, Handel, Tennyson and Darwin.

Blood will tell. His Royal Highness Prince George of Cambridge has some catching up to do.

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