After a spattering of media speculation, it was confirmed yesterday that Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge are expecting their second child. Similar to her first pregnancy with Prince George, Kate’s morning sickness meant that the news had to be announced earlier than the twelve week scan most prospective parents prefer to wait for; suspicions started to grow when it was noticed that the Duchess frequently having to see the private doctors at Clarence House. Over the past twenty-four hours, amongst an onslaught of congratulatory messages from members of the public, were statements and tweets from everyone from David Cameron to Prince Harry expressing their delight and warm wishes.
Given that recent news stories have been fairly negative; the conflict between Israel and Palestine, the issues in both Ukraine and Iraq, the terror threat being raised to ‘Severe’, and the alarming amount of violent incidents in the UK, including the elderly lady beheaded in Edmonton last week being a prime example, the news of the latest addition to the Royal family is likely to be a welcome change from the relents negativity of the national press. After all, it has been a while since we saw a newsreader smiling! But if her previous pregnancy is anything to go on it’s likely that there will be numerous reports of every stage of the next nine months, with hospital appointments and the growing baby bump being well documented throughout the global media. Naturally, this has provoked concerns that coverage of other stories will be neglected or overshadowed, leading to the debate concerning how important Kate’s second pregnancy will be in relation to other world events. Many people are likely to enjoy watching the pregnancy progress, but it does not need to be a front page event when, for example another ceasefire is broken in Gaza. Editors are likely to want to feature the pregnancy as a way of varying the tone of their news stories rather than to ignite feelings of patriotic nationalism, but ultimately it is a question of priority; it is celebrity gossip magazines that have the responsibility of documenting high-profile pregnancies, not the major tabloid or broadsheet newspapers.
The reaction so far to the news has been interesting; unlike the first pregnancy people now have something to compare it to, and the small age gap between George, whose first birthday was celebrated at the end of June, and the new baby has already become a topic of discussion. It is likely that, until old enough to be recognised for their differing personalities, the two royal siblings will be grouped together as a duo of sorts, and as undeniably cute as this is likely to be, studies have shown that this can sometimes be detrimental to children’s development, although being a part of the global media is something they will be trained to adapt to. There has been debate about whether a two-year age difference between siblings is ‘ideal’ or desirable. Now magazine predicted Kate would have another baby soon after George, given that some women who have children after thirty sometimes prefer to have their babies in quick succession, usually because of the health risks associated with delaying, but the Duchess has always been fairly candid about her plans to have more children. The co-founder of Mumsnet, Justine Roberts, claims that there are pros and cons with any age group – having a matter of months between children can enable them to form closer bonds earlier, it can also be incredibly draining for parents, not that the Duchess is likely to be too be deprived of help on that front…
Others have drawn parallels between Prince Harry being second in line to the throne after his brother, and the likely replication of the new baby being the “back-up”, as Princess Diana once named her youngest son. It may sound harsh, but already some have predicted that this new baby may follow in the footsteps of his/her controversial and popular uncle, in terms of being as interesting and as outgoing as possible. Although fourth in line, the newest addition to the Royal family is likely to receive just as much attention as George, with a number of brands such as Nissan and the Post Office already adapting their advertising campaigns to include the latest news. Aside from being an ideal way to make extra money, the majority of Brits are likely to be pleased with the impending arrival of another Royal. It cannot be denied that any event concerning the Royal family ignites passion in the hearts of the more patriotic members of the nation, and it is difficult not to get carried away with feelings of patriotic pride. But it also highlights the debate concerning the actual relevance of the Royal family; there are some who are likely to not be particularly bothered by the news, believing that they no longer serve as a functional part of modern British society. This is not a view point that can simply be discredited; gone are the days when the Queen was at the heart of all of the important decisions concerning the way in which every aspect of Britain functions. Although they may not perform their traditional roles, at least not every single one of them, it would seem that there is a sense of divide across the British public concerning how they regard the Royal family; some still feel that they are at the heart of Britain, whilst others feel Britain could easily exist without them. There is plenty of room for debate on this issue, but given that for twenty-four hours the news has been taken over by coverage of the Duchess’s pregnancy, it would seem that – for now at least – there is still a place for the Royals in Britain today, and for the following nine months this is likely to become even more apparent.