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Fresh Prince

Aug 5, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 44 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
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The Scrapbook does not usually take notice of royal births around the world, but you had to have been in serious misanthropic mode to fail to notice the birth of Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge, third in line of succession to the British throne, last week in London. Whether he will someday succeed his great-grandmother, grandfather, and father to become King George VII is up to the gods, of course; but The Scrapbook wishes him and his parents good health, much happiness, and long life. 

Prince

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Should Americans care about such things? Well, no and yes. To be sure, the United States declared its independence from Great Britain 237 years ago, and as a republic, we are constitutionally resistant to hereditary monarchy. But as The Scrapbook has said in other circumstances, Great Britain is an old and faithful friend of the United States, our fighting ally in two world wars and a cold war, and we speak English and adopted the English common law and read Shakespeare and Jane Austen, and so on and on. To be sure, the power of the British monarchy is almost entirely symbolic; but constitutional monarchy seems to work within British democracy, so we end up wishing the royal prince well without attaching too much significance to his arrival. 

One afterthought, however: Almost any milestone of this sort in the British royal family attracts both (a) an inordinate amount of attention in the United States of America, and (b) much handwringing about that amount of attention in the aforementioned U.S.A. In fact, Americans have been gaga about royal births and weddings for some time, as well as agonizing in print about the popularity of the royal family in this country, at least since the birth of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales—in 1864. 

The Scrapbook’s view is that all this is, at the very least, entirely harmless. A large number of Americans are equally gaga about the lives of movie stars, politicians, and professional athletes. Indeed, very nearly as much ink was recently spilled over the (out-of-wedlock) birth of a child to sex-tape star Kim Kardashian and bad-boy rapper Kanye West. Say what you will about Prince William and Kate Middleton, and their place in a historic line stretching beyond a millennium: At least they didn’t name their son North (Kanye West), or Apple (Gwyneth Paltrow), or Memphis Eve (Bono). And unlike the late king of pop Michael Jackson, royalty of another sort, they are at least entitled, by law and precedent, to call their son Prince.

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