Belfast Telegraph

Lindy McDowell: Royal boy whose life will be lived, for better or worse, in the public eye

Good news: a town crier
Good news: a town crier

By Lindy McDowell

She panted, she pushed, her breath coming in gasps as she announced that finally it was all over. Never mind what the latest royal birth took out of Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, it was another marathon labour for Sky TV's Kay Burley.

The doyenne of Lindo Ward reportage was, needless to say, on hand once again for several hours of trying to think of new things to say about the impending birth.

And now, post-announcement she was caught up in the charge as, amid a sudden surge of excitement, photographers surrounded the only relevant item they could find to photograph at that point.

A dodgy looking boy doll held aloft by "super fan" Terry. Terry, who was dressed trilby-to-toe in Union flag-patterned clobber, immediately became Ms Burnley's target interviewee, despite the fact that he was now five deep in camera-persons.

Ordering her own lensman to follow, the redoubtable Ms Burley puffed valiantly as she burrowed her way through the bodies so that we could see Terry, other super fans and that dubious looking doll.

The baby had been born just after 11am. The news had been announced just after 1pm. Ms Burley and the rest of the Press pack then, had gone through two superfluous hours of inane speculation before the good news had been belatedly broken to them.

With the result that by the time it got to the announcement of the arrival of the new princeling, there wasn't a whole lot new left to say.

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One "expert"pointed out that now there were three when previously there had only been two.

Another speculated that Prince William might have to hold Prince George and Princess Charlotte by either hand while Kate would hold the baby when the family later emerged. That level of in-depth analysis...

There were constant reminders that history was being made as Charlotte would be the first princess not to be leapfrogged in the succession stakes by a younger brother.

And a bloke with a chalkboard was giving the betting on baby names (favourite, at that point, Arthur. No odds, though, on Malcolm, the suggestion of an Australian onlooker). As a breaking story there wasn't much to say then, other than the fact that a child had been born.

But this was a story that was being told, not in revelatory detail or startling statistic but in broad smiles and happy chatter - that familiar feelgood fallout, in other words that accompanies the arrival of any new baby, highborn or otherwise.

This particular child was being born into a life of privilege. The clamour of media representatives and throng of onlookers outside the hospital was also a reminder that his will be a life that will, for better or worse, be lived in the public eye.

A happy event, in this case, is also a historic event.

In the last few days the British monarchy has celebrated both the birth of the little boy who is its youngest member and the 92nd birthday of its great matriarch - a Queen whose recent television appearances have revealed an inspiring youthfulness of spirit.

Kay Burley may have few peers in terms of breaking-news continuity - but this is different, a constitutional continuity binding together the reign of our longest serving monarch with a prince who will be the age of her current heir in far-off 2088.

But historical significance aside, this is also primarily a happy family story we can all relate to. The birth of a healthy baby boy. Something we can all celebrate. Which is why we can forgive even Ms Burley's excited ante-natal babble as 8lb 7oz of good news, temporarily anyway, outweighs some of the week's heavier headlines.

Belfast Telegraph


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