British news site offers ‘Republican’ option for readers sick of royal baby news

July 22, 2013

This is the default view of the Guardian's U.K. homepage. An option for "Republican" readers, highlighted in red, removes royal baby news.

Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton went into labor early Monday morning, bringing the world that much closer to meeting the royal baby who may some day become the queen or king of the United Kingdom. It's a big, highly anticipated day in royal news.

But not every one of the royal baby's future subjects is glued to their screens following today's monarchical developments. Perhaps anticipating some reader fatigue, the Web site of the British newspaper The Guardian introduced a special option on the U.K. edition of its homepage Monday: a small toggle near the top of the page that allows readers to switch between "Royalist" and "Republican" modes, the latter of which removes all reference to English royalty and their familial expansion.

A reader loading the Guardian's homepage for the first time today will be bombarded with royal baby news: the happy crowds gathered in the streets, the details of royal succession, yet another photo-biography of Middleton and even a story with the headline "Queen's former gynaecologist leads top medical team." But the reader also will notice a toggle at the top of page that says "Republican?" (I've highlighted it in a screenshot at the top of this page.) Clicking that removes all reference to the royal baby, replacing it with a story about art forgeries as well as lots and lots of sports news. Here's the "Republican" edition:


This is the "Republican" edition of the Guardian's U.K. homepage, which users can select from the "Royalist" default.

The word "republican" has a different meaning in the British political context than it does in the American. There, it means someone who supports a republic or representative style of government without a monarchy; the American revolution was in part a republican movement. Most British Web users who might opt for the "Republican" homepage probably don't really want to abolish the centuries-old royal family that is now largely traditional (although some surely do) so much as they're probably just tired of reading about the royal family. There's been a string of heavily covered royals stories of late: Prince William's engagement to Kate Middleton, their marriage, her pregnancy and now the pending delivery of the baby.

American readers will probably not face quite the same level of royal news saturation as will the Brits, but if you find yourself tiring of the story, we here at WorldViews have lots on the political crisis in Egypt, India's school lunch deaths and the program of forced village relocations in Tibet.

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Max Fisher | July 22, 2013