So finally after all the waiting, we have confirmation that the Duchess of Cambridge has produced a son weighing in at 8lbs 6oz.
Like so many of us, I’ve been sitting in front of the television this evening watching the media struggling to contain their delight at the news. Having had a few moments of genuine excitement as the announcement was made, we’re now back to the endless interviews, uninformed opinions and discussions that have been going on since we found out the Kate had gone into labour as the news broadcasters do their best to fill up the hours of airtime that 24 rolling news demands.
Instantly this baby without a name has gained international fame. It could be said that it has become the most well-known celebrity baby in the world now that the most scrutinised pregnancy in history has come to its natural conclusion. The media around the world and especially here in the UK and the US, has been working itself into a frenzy over the last few months, reaching an almost hysterical crescendo as the arrival has become imminent. Every possible angle along with many impossible ones has been covered to cater for our insatiable desire for celebrity news and gossip.
But unlike most celebrities who court the media to boost their fame, William and Kate have not asked for this attention. They will have expected it given that the birth of an heir to the throne is a once-in-a-generation moment. It is an event of national importance that the majority of our nation will want to celebrate. We have made Kate’s body public property for the last nine months, but such publicity and attention can bring a bitter taste. Prince William experienced the horrendous consequences of an aggressive paparazzi when his mother was killed in a car crash and over enthusiastic radio presenters playing a prank on the hospital that the Duchess of Cambridge was staying in earlier in her pregnancy resulted in the suicide of a nurse.
Prince William has tried hard to protect his wife from the worst excesses of the media and rightly so. I suspect this desire for some semblance of normality will only increase as they attempt to settle down into family life.
There has been enough tragedy in William’s life already. The media and the public owe it to him and his family to make sure that they do not have to endure further heartache just because we want to read another scoop or see another set of revealing photos.
This should indeed be a time of national celebration, but we need to remember these are real people, with real emotions and needs, who need space to adjust to their new situation as much as anyone else who experiences the birth of a child. The Bishop of Bradford, Nick Baines wrote a piece on his blog today that sums up everything I would wish to say at this time:
‘Having given birth and given a name to the baby, she and William should be left alone to begin the amazing journey of being parents to a demanding and wonderful baby. They should be given privacy and the hospitality of space and time. The media can’t bring up this child – but they can deny themselves out of the sheer humanitarian generosity of allowing this family the best shot at being a family.
‘I will rejoice with them at the birth of their baby and the shaping of their family. And I will pray for them, that amid all the frenzy of intrusion and opinion and commentary and cameras, they will get some space to enjoy their new life with all the demands and stresses (as well as joys) it will undoubtedly bring.’
Congratulations to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on the wonderful news of the birth of their son.