OPINION: No baby is more precious than any other. Nor less precious.
But some are born into extraordinary circumstances. Truly extraordinary, in the case of the wee chap causing so many squishy delights, and some sour mutterings, throughout many countries yesterday.
The Cambridge prince does not yet have a name. But he has a place in this world unlike almost any other.
He has been born into a vortex of powerful systems - the inertia of sometimes arcane, sometimes resonant, historic tradition; and the intensity of modern society's superheated scrutiny and ungentle judgment of celebrities.
Those who would sum this up as a pampered destiny just haven't been paying attention to the reality.
And yet the baby has a lot going for him, even so. Not the least of which is the determination of his parents to be there on his behalf. Prince William knows something of the pressures, the corrosions - and yes, the rewards - of modern-day royalty. From the death of his own mother, Diana, he knows how desperately hard it can be. The fact that he has carried out not only his duties, but his life, this well to date bodes well for his capacities as a father.
Whereas Catherine, a newcomer to it all, has not only been faultlessly poised. She also brings with her those now often-cited middle-class Home Counties values that themselves represent a redoubtable tradition in their own right.
Together the parents will have the crucial responsibility of guiding their child through the early stages of a lifetime of trying to balance tradition and relevance. Not easy.
In fact Prime Minister John Key may have presumed too much when he welcomed the birth of "a future king of New Zealand". The child is third in line for the British throne and, perhaps as much from genes as lifestyle, these royals have tended to live and work longer than most people.
It would scarcely be a surprise if New Zealand is a republic by the time this young prince assumes the role. The sense that this is an inexorable path does not mean that it is a headlong, or even hasty, journey.
A great many New Zealanders have deep respect for the royal family. A large number, though perhaps not quite so large, have great affection for them. But there's also a significant number who care, above all that, for their own grandparents and great-grandparents and would not lightly cause them distress. When the time feels right it will feel right.
That is not to deny that the monarchy, if it can muster and maintain sufficient wisdom and ability, still has a future in Britain.
Or that there will remain a strong bond with New Zealand. For all the faults of colonialism, we tend to forget how much they got right.
For our part we will forge our own destiny, but as we do so we might as well acknowledge that the British monarchy is part of our cultural DNA. Whatever the formalities of the relationship between countries, this child is tied up with our sense of past, present, and in some form or other, our future.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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