Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, and her husband, Prince William, introduced their newborn child to the public outside St. Mary’s Hospital in London on Tuesday. The boy is third in line for succession to the British throne. William and Catherine, the former Kate Middleton, appeared in front of cameras and answered reporters’ quesetions:
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. . . .
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.”
Erik Wemple argues that U.S. television stations also gave the child undue attention:
Since hundreds of thousands of people are born each day in this world, media outlets must somehow justify throwing valuable newsroom resources behind a single birth. Gushing over the event is one approach, as MSNBC demonstrated.
After watching this underwhelming display, MSNBC’s Tamron Hall declared, “Even if you’re a cynical person out there and you think this is all hype, to see Catherine’s glow, to see William so proud and even joking. They look like this couple, they got each other’s back and they’re there to share this moment with the world and handle it with such care and tenderness.”
Another MSNBCer on the same topic: “They just look fantastic, don’t they? William with the sleeves rolled up, you know, the shirt a little bit undone. Kate, in that very casual kind of little cotton gown that she’s wearing.”
Then came the coup de grace. The couple emerged from St. Mary’s Hospital with the baby in a car seat. William put the child in the back seat of the vehicle, got in the driver’s seat and drove off. MSNBC’s Chris Jansing watched all of this go down and just about declared herself floored by the experience. . .
CNN didn’t go quite that far, though correspondent Max Foster did manage this gushiness: “Having followed William for some time now, he was really, really chaffed, pleased, happy and Kate looked really relaxed, completely natural. It was interesting to see how she came out with the baby in her arms and then William then took the baby from her and that would have been a choreographed move, so this is a joint partnership, joint parenting. It’s not just his child, it’s not just her child. This is two very hands-on parents who’ve been through all of this together over the last 48 hours.”
Fox New’s Shannon Bream stuck with the facts and some good insight from commentator Christopher Andersen, who observed that there’s an “affection and enthusiasm for this couple that didn’t exist for Charles and Diana.”
Diana had hoped that her children could be raised as “normally” as possible, writes Cara Kelly. See images of Diana and and Charles outside the hospital here, and watch the new family’s appearance below.