Kate and William seem as busy as ever in the run-up to the birth of their first child. With the world’s media riveted on their every move, what will differentiate the UK’s new little blue blood from those of centuries past. Well, in the first place, William says he’ll phone his mum from the maternity ward.
Historian Anna Whitelock, at Royal Holloway, the University of London, told our London correspondent, Ali May: “William will only be the sort of second generation of royal fathers to actually be at the birth. Prince Charles was there at the birth of William and Harry, but before that the royal father would be elsewhere. Prince Phillip was playing squash when Prince Charles was born, so it wasn’t something that the fathers got involved with. But I think we’ve seen already that Kate and William are very much a modern couple and, in a way, you know, their preparations for the birth will be similar to other such couples. William’s going to have a couple of weeks’ paternity leave, Kate’s going to be, you know, I think going to be a much more hands-on mother than mothers of the past, when they would be handed over to nurses.”
Paternity leave!? What? Take a royal break from ‘high fives’ for a couple of weeks? Easy on the ribbon-cutting. So he can get up during the night to mix some formula? Never mind. William and Kate are adored, just as Diana and Charles were doted on. But Diana was not yet 21 when she had William. Kate is 31.
Whitelock said: “Her expectations and her, sort of, you know, knowledge if you like, experience, of children and, you know, young children growing up, has been very much a normal one, you know, sort of growing up, going to nursery being in a normal domestic setting. So, you know, it’s going to be quite a culture shock I think, perhaps for, for Kate as a mother, as a royal mother wanting to protect her child but also fulfil duty; I think there’s going to be some tensions there.”
Whitelock’s research interests, a web page at London University says, ‘lie broadly in sixteenth and seventeenth century political history… and the implications of gender’.
“Obviously, this is going to be the new age of monarchy. I mean, this young child may not even inherit the throne until the 22nd century. In fact, the great majority of us won’t see this baby actually become monarch, and we’re looking at quite far into the future. However, this baby – and, you know, this young royal couple – will, undoubtedly, be the focus of media attention, you know; they are this kind of celebrity couple; they are the, sort of, glamorous face of the British monarchy: their image is going to be hugely exported around the world.”