Looking robust in a blue dress after giving birth a day earlier, Catherine cradled the baby in her arms and waved. As she did, a tiny hand emerged from the swaddling as if waving, too.
William, who is said to hate the news media — blaming them for his mother’s death in a 1997 Paris car crash — fielded most of the questions on inquiring minds, possibly, in the most winsome of ways, trying to draw the news media off his wife. Who had changed the first royal nappy? Well, he had. What about the name? They’re working on it. “It’s the first time we’ve seen him, so we are having a proper chance to catch up.”
As the little prince wailed, William joked that the baby had a “good set of lungs” and that he would one day remind the “big boy” of his tardiness — Catherine delivered after being some days overdue.
Such moments — the first photo op of a baby who stands to one day be the monarch — have the weight of history here. Images of Diana, Princess of Wales, and Prince Charles walking out of the same wing of the same hospital with Prince William in their arms are remembered by some as vividly now as then. But if that moment 31 years ago had a hint of formal awkwardness about it, Tuesday’s 31
2-minute meet-and-greet will perhaps be remembered for the casualness of a young couple in love. The subtle, if not wholly accurate message: The monarchy is now not so different from you.
Some in the crowd of well-wishers, such as Andrea Dawkins, a 37-year-old from London, were immediately hooked (not that they needed much convincing).
“They looked very happy,” said Dawkins, who screamed “I love you” as the couple emerged with the baby. “Kate passed the baby over to William, and there was such passion between him and his son. You can’t forget that moment, ever.”
The baby unveiling, however, also hinted at the long road ahead for the littlest royal and the news media. In the most telling sign that William was gambling on the occasional photo op to slake the media’s thirst and buy his young family some privacy, he seemed to address the hundreds of journalists present when he said, “I know how long you’ve all been standing out here, so hopefully the hospital and you guys can all go back to normal now and we can look after him.”
Normal? Fat chance, some said. “Short of going into exile, the third in line to the throne cannot expect to enjoy the slightest privacy,” Simon Jenkins, a British journalist and author, observed in a column for the Guardian newspaper after Tuesday’s glimpse of the little prince. “He will spend his life with a media drone hovering overhead, listening, prying, revealing, proclaiming a global ‘public interest’ in intrusion.”