Belfast Telegraph

Royal baby: Born to rule... but he has a very long wait ahead of him

By Lindy McDowell

In the immortal words of the stork-bedecked greeting cards: "It's a Boy!"

But not just any wee boy of course as those legions of international camera crews encamped outside the Lindo Wing for the entire sweltering month of July attest. This is a boy born to be king. An heir to the throne. And even then, not just any heir to the throne.

Baby Cambridge (do royal babies get hospital name bracelets like other infants?) is actually heir to the heir to the heir to the throne. He is third in line.

There is, being blunt about it, currently a bit of an heir backlog within the House of Windsor.

And this raises not just fascinating questions about the future of the monarchy but inevitably, the age profile of those who will wear the crown.

The likelihood is that it will be many, many, many years before that little mite born yesterday afternoon will ascend the throne and take his place in history.

Given the longevity of his royal great-grandparents and increasing life spans in general, his father William could easily live well into his nineties.

To put it another way, two-thirds of a century hence a fair percentage of those currently in the 40-plus age bracket are unlikely to be around to see the coronation of the son of Kate.

That, rather poignantly, includes Kate's mother and father Carole and Michael Middleton.

But all this assumes of course that Charles and then William after him ascend the throne and live to a ripe old age. And that neither abdicates in favour of his son. The Queen has signalled she will not step down. So Charles is likely to be an old (an even older) man when he succeeds.

Having waited a lifetime to fulfil his destiny, is it probable (or even fair) that he should stand aside for a, by then, middle-aged William? Albert II of Belgium did this week, passing his crown to his 53-year-old son Phillipe. And William after a few years might consider stepping aside for his own son.

Might, maybe ...

The truth is, it is hard even to envisage the future for a royal child born in the age of Twitter – a child born on the cusp of tradition and technology.

A child who will live his life in a global spotlight where privacy is increasingly eroded by technological advance, where all those futuristic notions we read about today, like robot bodies for humans and open-to-all space travel, may well be commonplace.

What we do know is that no royal baby in history will be so scrutinised and commented upon.

This is the first prince of the Facebook generation, the heir of Instagram; he is the embodiment of heritage and antiquity now trending on Twitter.

But he is also, above all, his father and mother's precious child. So whatever that future holds for the constitutional role of this little boy, let us wish for him what we wish for every baby born anywhere into this world. A long life. Crowned with happiness.

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