Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 3 September 2014

Zara, don't let critics rein you in

Mum's the word: Zara Phillips

As a schoolgirl one of the lessons from history that used to appal me particularly was the bit about how queens and princesses in olden days were expected to have half the country looking on as they gave birth – to ensure the heir wasn't a cutely planted substitute.

At least we're civilised enough these days to have done with all that nonsense, I used to think.

But poor Kate of Cambridge who is, beneath all the royal title palaver, still just an ordinary young woman giving birth to her first child, has had a sizeable portion of the world's media encamped outside her hospital window straining for any hint of mid-contraction yelp.

The scale of the media pack makes even those old mediaeval court officials and Archbishop of Canterbury look comparatively discreet.

And that unwavering spotlight will stay upon Kate and her new baby in the weeks and months to come.

It is, of course, a good news story. People want to hear about it. All the same ...

There are times when a woman needs a bit of space.

Take also Zara Phillips who has offended the Health and Safety wing of the birthing lobby by riding her horse and competing in a show-jumping event after her pregnancy was confirmed.

In the last few days Zara must have felt that every press camera lens in the land has been focused on her very slightly bulging abdomen.

Nice.

Yet as an experienced and sensible horsewoman, presumably she knows what she's doing. It's her body. Her choice.

Pregnancy is not an illness. It's not a reason to lie with your feet up for the best part of nine months.

By being active Zara is preparing herself for the hurdles of parenthood where there will be precious little time for feet-up relaxation.

Good on her.

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