As a passionate monarchist, I gobble up avidly any news about the royal family, and the past few days have been most rewarding.
Naturally, the birth of baby Sussex takes pride of place on sentiment alone, but his granddaddy Charles caught my eye first.
HRH is urging politicians to protect Britain’s historic bond with Germany, which ought to pique the interest of anyone passionate about both politics and history.
The first group has taken the pronouncement as a reference to Brexit, which HRH clearly wants to be soft enough not to loosen the historic bond. Fair enough, he’s entitled to his view, though I’m not sure to what extent the constitution allows him to voice it publicly.
But the word ‘historic’ intrigued me, for history covers such a long time that it can justify just about any statement. It all depends on what fragment is placed into focus.
Which history are we talking there? Granted, both the Angles and the Saxons were Germanic tribes. However, at the time they settled the Tin Island, no bond between Britain and Germany was established since neither existed.
For the same reason, when Britain was already Britain, she used to enter into ad hoc alliances with various German principalities, but not with Germany qua Germany.
Germany as such was born only in 1871, and since then the bond has been more in the nature of a garrotte. I suppose it’s possible to talk about a bond annealed in the fire of the Somme, Verdun, Jutland, the Blitz, the Battle of the Bulge and so forth. However, ‘violent hostility’ rolls off the tongue more easily.
Prince Charles might have meant the dynastic links between Germany and his own House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. Alas, much to my regret and doubtless his, these days dynastic bonds are matters of strictly antiquarian interest.
They certainly didn’t prevent the royal cousins George, Wilhelm and Nicholas from sending their subjects into the bloodbath of the Great War. As millions were dying, the Kaiser and the Tsar were exchanging ‘dear Nicky’, ‘Dear Willie’ letters – in English, which language they also used to communicate with ‘Georgie’.
None of this is meant as criticism. It’s just that I’d like to have some clarity on the historical background to HRH’s evident yearning for a soft Brexit. That’s all.
Now to more joyous matters: the birth of Harry’s and Meghan’s son. One can understand the happy father’s elation, even as one may wish he had found better words to express it.
As it was, Prince Harry first uttered an old cliché, saying he was “over the moon”, and then, considering that the delivery wasn’t without problems, an inappropriate one: the baby was “absolutely to die for”.
The prince’s eloquence reached a new height when reporters asked him the question keeping us all on tenterhooks: what will be the baby’s name. Harry spoke from the heart:
“That’s the next bit, but for us I think we will be seeing you guys in probably two days’ time as planned as a family to be able to share it with you guys and so everyone can see the baby.”
It appears that HRH is taking his wife’s American heritage close to heart, while jettisoning the ballast of his own expensive education.
Meanwhile, the media guys are knee-deep in conjecture, trying to guess the forthcoming name. The bookie guys have waded in too, with two names, James and Alexander, currently their favourites at 7/2.
James must be struck off the list immediately, lest all those ugly – and groundless! – rumours about Harry’s paternity might be stoked up. As to Alexander, much as I appreciate the royal couple’s intent to name their son after me, I hope they’ll go for something more imaginative.
By all accounts, had Harry and Meghan produced a daughter, they would have named her Diana in honour of her late grandmother. Personally, I see no reason to deny the same name to the son, thereby keeping his ‘gender’ identity open until he’s old enough to choose for himself.
That would be a nice New Age gesture, and Meghan is nothing if not New Age. Then again, she never tires of saying how proud she is of her Americanism.
As a reflection of that pride, the young couple are planning to saddle their son with a male American nanny, to make sure he grows up speaking like Meghan’s co-stars in Suits.
Such locution would go nicely with an American name like Gus, Butch or Wayne. HRH Prince Butch has a nice ring to it, wouldn’t you say?
No, scratch that: the baby is unlikely to get a royal title, and there are indications that, even if one were offered, Meghan would reject it because her son is half-American and an amendment to the US Constitution bans titles of nobility. Harry’s family managed to shove a title down her own throat, but that’s where Meghan draws the line.
There’s a part of me that hopes that the couple will eschew all those tired, overused names in favour of something modern and upbeat, such as Arlen, Cosmo or Brando. And let’s not forget another part of Meghan’s heritage of which she’s proud: her semi-negritude.
(I’ve never been able to understand how it’s possible to be proud of an accident of birth, even if that means what Cecil Rhodes called “winning first prize in the lottery of life”. But these days one is supposed to uncover all sorts of things to be proud about.)
This dovetails neatly with the royal family’s intent to tuck Harry’s family away in Africa for a few years or, better still, permanently. That would suggest names like Kofi, Daewon or Kwame, though perhaps this is taking multiculturalism too far.
I have an idea: the name Clarence can reflect the mixed heritage of baby Sussex – it’s both black American and British royal, although admittedly not New Age.
Sorry if I can’t be more creative this morning. The trouble is, I’m still recovering from viewing a long segment on Sky News, in which an independent midwife offered expert opinion on the royal birth.
Speaking in a robotic monotone for some 10 minutes, she explained that the woman’s and child’s safety is important in delivery, which was a real eye opener. She then reassured us that pregnancy isn’t a disease, and childbirth is perfectly normal. In fact, she should have added but didn’t, all of us followed this road into life.
Mind like a steel trap, as they say in Meghan’s native land.