Looking at my Facebook News feed, I’ve seen some friends quite perturbed by all the hoopla about the birth of the son of Prince William and Kate Middleton. Some have even suggested that this was why we broke away from Great Britain. Others have wondered what’s so special about this baby over every other baby. Driving around from work, I heard one radio host call for the abolition of the British Monarchy.
Such are some of the more negative reactions of this day. Of course, there are some answers. Most of us whose families left the UK didn’t do so to get away from 24 hour news coverage of royal babies. Nor did the U.S. separation from Great Britain come from general animosity towards the British crown, but rather abuses by one particular British Government. Founding Father Benjamin Rush visited London shortly before the Stamp Act Controversy and during a tour of Buckingham Palace with the king absent, asked permission to sit on the throne and the tour guide allowed it. (Yes, our Founding Fathers had many faults, some were even typical tourists.)
But what’s the big deal about the monarchy? About William and Kate? And about their new baby. There are a couple of things behind it. First, I think is that Westerners have an often unexpressed need for constancy. Our world is constantly changing and the stability of every cultural institution is in doubt. Marriages continue to decline. Technology that was science fiction fifteen years ago is now commonplace.
Our Christian churches are being subject to constant changes. Most songs that are older than fifteen years old are passe with the exception of a few classic hymns. Churches are out for the next big trend, pastors are in a race to find the next big way to make themselves culturally relevant, and get their churches ready for the next big thing.
Everything is changing, and in our few reflective moments (because we take less time for being reflective), we realize things are not changing for the better or at the very least fear that they aren’t. In a world that’s changing towards God knows what, anything that’s constant is a comfort.
Perhaps, it’s because of that, that our fascination with the monarchy hasn’t declined more since the days of Benjamin Rush. Fantasy remains popular among Americans, and these fantasies often center on Kings, Queens, Princes, and Princesses. To be fair, there probably are novels in which a man is elected President of the Commonwealth after defeating the evil wizard, but they’re not the norm.
I’d also add that, at least from their public appearances, Prince William and his wife represent a sort of normalcy and wholesomeness that is quite appealing in our generation. While some would poke fun at the big deal made over them and the birth of their child, the Prince and his wife are far better examples than American “royalty”: it’s highly paid entertainers who merit the over the top acclaim of the media by doing things like dropping fifty f-bomb in a movie or singing in their underwear on MTV.
The couple represents a resurgence in the Royal Family’s reputation and stature after the embarrassing scandals that beset in the 1990s from the previous generation of royals. As of right now, they offer the world what we love best about the royals: nobility and class.
The public expects a lot from this young couple. Of course, there are vultures eagerly hoping for their downfall. For better or for worse, the future the British monarchy rests on William and Kate’s shoulders, which makes them a fitting subject for prayer.