A Royal Welcome for Baby Sussex
Two young people fell in love and we all showed up—and then, this morning, almost a year later, we showed up again, to watch a video of a cheerful Prince Harry announcing that, unto the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, a child had been born: Baby Boy Yet to Be Named Mountbatten-Windsor, seven pounds, three ounces, and seventh in line to the British throne. (Tough luck, Prince Andrew—but, in any case, the baby is an unlikely future king, unless something Westerosian happens.) Watching the happy father enthuse, as he gamely chatted with the press, bearded and tired, in a beige quarter-zip jumper, I assumed that the brick building behind him was a hospital—but the dark shapes emerging from its windows, I suddenly realized, could only be horses’ heads, peering at him from behind as we peered at him from the front. The Mountbatten-Windsors are not like you and me.
Harry was at Frogmore Cottage, in Berkshire, effusive in his joy, charming (even though he said “Meghan and myself”), and somewhat cosmic in his admiration. “I can never possibly imagine,” he began one sentence, seeming to hover around articulating the miracle of childbirth—“how any woman does what they do is beyond comprehension,” he finished, summing it up nicely. “We’re both absolutely thrilled.” In the minute-and-thirty-six-second video, he said “amazing” four times. “This little thing is absolutely delightful, so I’m just over the moon,” he added. He also seemed over the moon about tactfully sending the press on their way—Meghan and Harry famously like a bit of privacy—and seeing them in two days, for photographs, like they’d planned. Toodle-oo for now!
As all of this was being absorbed by groggy Americans, happy to be worming our way into the British monarchy, #RoyalBaby was trending on Twitter, George Clooney was trending alongside it, and “Starbucks Cup” was, too: last night’s “Game of Thrones” featured an accidental macchiato in the mead hall, and the people had yet to calm down. George Clooney, age fifty-eight today, shares the same birthday as the Royal Lad, age zero—and the enchanted realm whence #StarbucksCup came has much in common with Buckingham Palace (or, at least, with the Tower of London).
Our interest in all of this royal fuss comes from the same impulse. Zillions of us, in the past decade, have been escaping to HBO’s incestuous proto-Britain, where people with British accents obsess over royal lineages, strategize over marriages of diplomacy, and declare war on other powerful families, while commoners, little seen unless they’re throwing excrement and yelling “Shame!” or being set on fire, haplessly muddle along. But if the Seven Kingdoms’ great unwashed could tune in to “Game of Thrones,” surely they would. (In last night’s episode, a blacksmith with an accent like Tony the cabbie in the “7 Up!” movies was impulsively named a lord by a power-mad would-be sovereign; she’s competing for power with people who talk like the pint-sized “7 Up!” toff who reads the Financial Times, and who probably attended his prep school.) Meanwhile, Meghan Markle’s former collaborator, the Hallmark Channel, produces a royal rom-com every couple of weeks or so; we can’t stop watching good-looking rich people fall in love any more than we can stop fantasizing about the monarchy.
Meghan and Harry have been doing what they can, it seems, to redirect attention away from some of the Royal Silliness; the Telegraph reported that they had a “ ‘woke’ baby shower,” raising money for charity—but they are 0.1-per-centers, so that shower was organized by Serena Williams and Amal Clooney. They had announced that they would not announce when Markle went into labor (labour?), nor would they use the royal gynecologists. Such details and various speculations, including whether the baby’s name will unite the U.S. and the U.K., much as Markle’s bridal-veil embroidery paid tribute to the fifty-three countries of the Commonwealth, have distracted a bit from tabloid rumors about fraternal discord among the Sons of Diana—and, if they are to be believed, I retract everything generous I ever thought about Prince William and his humanizing hairline—but today’s official word from the Palace presented a tweet of regal harmony. “The Queen, The Duke of Edinburgh, The Prince of Wales, The Duchess of Cornwall, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Lady Jane Fellowes, Lady Sarah McCorquodale and Earl Spencer have been informed and are delighted with the news,” it said. Good for them! One of the excitements of this development is its Americanness—not to mention its multiracial-ness—so it’s nice that even the erstwhile racist Prince Philip is officially on board. “The Duchess’s mother, Doria Ragland, who is overjoyed by the arrival of her first grandchild, is with Their Royal Highnesses at Frogmore Cottage,” the Palace continued, on Twitter. May she, the lessons of “When Sparks Fly” and “Suits,” and the memory of Diana smile upon this child; whether the new parents like it or not, we’ll be watching. Perhaps they’ll name him Clooney.