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Royal baby: So much for seeing pink

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The royal baby is here, and I've got to say I'm just a wee bit bummed.

Not because the waiting is over, and our suspenseful international obsession has suddenly come to a screeching halt. (It hasn't, of course: There's still the name, the pictures, and the first royal baby sighting to come!) And not because the palace shifted gears at the last minute, sending the news out first via electronic press release before that quaint framed announcement on the easel made it to its place at the Buckingham Palace gates.

No, it's because I have to admit I was hoping, just a little bit, for a girl.

Don't get me wrong—any healthy baby is happy news. Boys are wonderful. But I'm not the only one who was rooting for Team Pink. Helen Mirren (the queen herself!) wanted a girl. The Telegraph says practically all of England was seeing pink. And some prized how Victoria and Elizabeth, "who were born when the country hoped for a male heir," wrote royal historian Kate Williams in the Post, "made their way as leaders." An heiress, Williams wrote, "will be better equipped to do what a monarch must do these days — shake hands, open hospitals, look regal."

While I don't agree with that at all (men are just as able to glad hand, cut ribbons and appear distinguished), I do agree with Williams when she describes another thing a female heir could do: "She might help drag the rest of the country a little further toward equality." That's a result of the recent changes to Britain's law, which no longer says that women will be superseded by their little brothers to the throne. Had William and Kate's baby been a girl, she would have been third in line to the monarchy, the same spot the baby boy who was born yesterday now holds in the line of succession. The position would have been rightly hers.

Would it have served as a glaring paradox that while a woman can be the rightful heir to the throne, there are still low numbers of female leaders in Britian? I don't know. Would a queen actually have had any real power to shift attitudes on gender? It's doubtful. There's a queen now, after all, and there has been for 61 years. Most people don't spend much time thinking about the fact that she got the job because her uncle ran off with a divorced socialite and her parents didn't have any sons.

Still, a little more history would have been at stake. All the pomp and circumstance of this baby, this "important" baby, might have still felt a little over the top. But the birth of the first girl to have a rightful claim to the throne all her own would have been something of a historic moment. Maybe by the time the boy who arrived Monday becomes king, none of this will matter after all.

Jena McGregor is a columnist for On Leadership.

Read also:

Obamas offer congratulations on royal baby

A royal wedding may be just what Britain needs

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Jena McGregor writes a daily column analyzing leadership in the news for the Washington Post’s On Leadership section.



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Jena McGregor · July 23, 2013

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