Tony Appleton, a town crier, announces the birth of the royal baby, outside St. Mary's Hospital exclusive Lindo Wing in London, Monday, July 22, 2013. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
The royals and, more precisely, media coverage of the royals evoke in me a simple, blunt-force reaction: Stop. Turn off the TV, turn it off faster. I don’t care about the royals or anyone that cares about them. I don’t want to see adults who value royals’ lives more than others’ reaching through the gates of Buckingham Palace as if to get the cure for scrofula.
And I sure don’t want to see the already dumb-downed MSM gushing over the “news” of a baby. The headline of the British mag Private Eye had it right: “Woman Has Baby.” Call me a Kenyan anti-colonialist, if you must, but I don’t get the royal fixation. I have no insights into it. I just want it gone.
And yet if, like me in calmer moments, you might be open to more nuanced thoughts on the construct we call “royalty,” you should check out Hilary Mantel’s essay, “Royal Bodies,” in February’s London Review of Books. Her novels about the reign of Henry VIII, who beheaded two of his six wives and imprisoned two others for failing to produce a male heir, are hot stuff right now. But it’s the essay (which raised a rumpus in London when it first appeared) that takes on the absurdities of today’s royal fandom, while sympathizing with the actual humans who are its objects.
Mantel starts off before we learn that Kate Middleton was pregnant:
In those days she was a shop-window mannequin, with no personality of her own, entirely defined by what she wore. These days she is a mother-to-be, and draped in another set of threadbare attributions. Once she gets over being sick, the press will find that she is radiant. They will find that this young woman’s life until now was nothing, her only point and purpose being to give birth….