Happy Birthday and welcome to the world, Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge! I’m so happy you’re here! I was one of the millions of people across the globe who was waiting with bubbling excitement for the announcement that you had finally been born. I was also one of those people who kept an ear out for news that your mother was pregnant in the first place. And yes, I was one of those crazy people who watched footage—although not live—of your mummy and daddy’s wedding. I remember watching footage of your Grandpa Charles and Grandmamma Diana’s wedding too.
Maybe that’s why I don’t quite understand why so many people out there are so grumpy about the media coverage that has been given to your birth. Sure, everyone has a right to their opinion. Yep, there’s a lot of history and some political debate about the role that your family does and should play in your country and in the world. But as far as I’m concerned, the arrival of a baby in this world, any baby, is a blessed occurrence and should be celebrated.
So why you? Why do so many people like me get so carried away every time someone like you is born? Why do we feel so personally involved every time someone like your parents or your grandparents get married? Why do we feel real grief when our television programming is interrupted to announce the sudden death of your mother, as I felt in 1997?
I’ll tell you, Georgie, I think it’s because no matter how old we get or how grown-up we become, in our hearts we want to believe in fairytales. There’s just something about the magic of childhood that even we wizened and jaded adults long to believe in. Our lives are pretty ordinary at best and painful at worst. Most of us will never attend a royal ball or get to wear an exquisite gown and wave from a balcony. For most of us, happily ever after means that we can retire in modest comfort when we reach our late sixties and watch the younger generations reach for the goals that we may or may not have achieved in our time.
But secretly, in our souls, we want to believe in Prince Charming. We want to believe in the beautiful princess, trapped by a spell for a hundred years, awakened by true love’s first kiss. We want to believe in chivalry and tales of derring-do performed by knights of the Round Table. We see enough dragons in real life. It’s only natural that we want to see at least a hint of those powers of good that can overcome them.
And then you get history nerds like me. We’re the folks who know far more details about the other five King George’s than we really need to know. We’re the ones who can trace your family’s history back through hundreds of years—far further back than we can trace our own families. For people like me, you give us a sense of continuity, a feeling that, while nations may rise and fall, while wars may change the map and make it unrecognizable, we still have a sense that the tree continues to branch. We take comfort in counting up numbers, first in line, second in line, third and fourth in line to the throne. We remember crazy incidences, like the fact that the first George was something like 64th in line to the throne when he became King because of an Act of Parliament that was canceled the year you were born. Congratulations, you’re free to become Catholic now if you want to and you can still be king!
And then I think there’s the entertainment value of it all, silly as it is. Maybe it’s unfair of us to watch the antics of your family, the stoic grace of your Great-grandmother Elizabeth as she marches towards making history as the longest sitting monarch in history. It could be argued that we’re not very nice for giggling over the naughty stuff your uncle Harry gets up to. But you have to admit, even when he’s bad, he’s cute. Watching your family is like watching reality TV and Downton Abbey rolled up in one.
But I think we also care about you. We think of those people who have been picked out as celebrities in our world the way we would folks from our own hometowns. That illusion of closeness is a powerful one. Maybe it’s leftover in our genetic code from a time when your family and families like yours really did have a say over the things that happened in our lives. We root for you the way our ancestors would have cheered for their favorite knight in the joust. Maybe some of those people out there who are not so happy about the attention given to your birth or who just don’t get it are like those rebellious people who demanded equality long before equality was in fashion. It takes all sorts of people to make a world.
So my advice to you, sweet little Prince George, is to enjoy who you are. Listen to your parents (I think they’re genuinely good people). Don’t listen to your Uncle Harry. Be who you want to be, even if that means serving your country in a way that seems unpopular to some. Remember, some of us will always love you and some of us will always hate you. But the same goes pretty much for everyone in this world. Have a wonderful life!