Editorial: Baby Cambridge a boost for royalty

Last updated 11:02 24/07/2013

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Regardless of gender, ethnicity or social standing, the birth of a healthy baby should always give cause for celebration. Even that is not always a given, but for most families a new arrival is a momentous occasion.

How much more so for the royal Windsors, who seem to have fought back from the lows brought on by a series of disasters towards the end of last century to enjoy a current level of popularity that is high and still growing.

Yesterday's royal birth must have catapulted The Firm's stocks off the chart - heaven-sent, for those royalists who still believe in such things.

The fuss is both understandable and portentous. Few births have been so eagerly anticipated; few pregnancies so thoroughly scrutinised.

Baby Cambridge, as he's being labelled pending the announcement of his names, can expect a similar level of attention for the rest of his days.

Most of us would struggle under even a tiny flicker of the constant public and media gaze. However, he who will be king - probably within five or six decades - will be as well-protected and prepared for the burden as is possible, whatever his natural temperament, personality and intelligence level might prove to be.

Regardless of the riches and celebrity status that go with the territory, few are born into such tightly straitjacketed circumstances.

Before he can walk, baby Cambridge will have the world at his feet, and yet can never be free. Who would accept such a role, given the choice?

In this country, the royal birth brings back into focus New Zealand's constitutional arrangements and may rekindle republican aspirations.

However, there seems little public hunger for New Zealand to abandon the British royal family in favour of a homegrown head of state.

Some have suggested that the occasion of Charles becoming king would be the appropriate time to either sever ties or at least test the waters with a referendum.

Even Charles now seems to be enjoying far greater popularity and public acceptance of his place as next monarch off the ranks. With William - approval rating at an all-time high - and baby Cambridge next in line, republicanism seems a forlorn hope, no matter how logical it might be for a democratic South Pacific nation.

Prime Minister John Key has been quick to once again nail his own flag to the monarchy mast, wishing the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge well and welcoming the birth of a "future king of New Zealand".

As important as this country's future constitutional arrangements might be to some, for many people it seems the big question of the day is what the baby boy will be called: George, probably. King Arthur? Hmmm - fourth on bookmaker William Hill's list maybe, but even so . . .

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And perhaps it might seem churlish, but some will see it as unfortunate that the first Cambridge offspring is a prince, not a princess. New legislation granting girls and boys equal succession rights will not be brought into play for many decades yet.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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