24 July 2013

There for a Fairytale

The Royal Baby has been born. I arrived here in London on the day of this auspicious event and I feel like I am now a part of history because I was in London when it happened. The emotion is similar but much diluted to that which I experienced when I was at the stadium at the 2000 Sydney Olympics and saw Cathy Freeman win the Gold Medal in the women's four hundred meters hurdles.

The birth of the Royal Baby is an "I was there" type of an event.

Sometimes you purposely go to these "I was there" events and sometimes you just stumble upon them. They can be kismet. They can be long anticipated or they can come completely unexpected. Some "I was there" events may involve emotion - pride, celebration, awe and even fear. Some may not. Being in proximity to them are good conversation pieces.

My brother's wife has had a few "I was there" moments and hers were all disaster related. She was in New York when two planes flew into the World Trade Centre. She had meetings in one of the Towers arranged for later that day. She was also in Phuket when the Tsunami struck. She was mercifully unaffected by either event. They claimed thousands of lives. There was somewhere else she was too when disaster struck but I can not for the life of me recall where or what it was. We joked for a while that traveling with her would be a risky proposition because she seemed to attract danger.

Royal babies aren't born all that often and the English love and revere their Monarchs. We all do really.

The English adore their Kings and Queens but in general it is the Princes and Princesses who are the most cherished. Most girls like Princesses - little girls and big girls. This is because of the romanticism involved in Fairy Tale monarchies and the stories we read to our children. These are the same stories that were read to us by our parents and that were read to them by our grandparents - and on and on. Stories where Princesses in Towers were rescued by dashing and heroic Princes who rode handsome white steeds.  Cinderella and Snow White and Sleeping Beauty.

Every little girl dreamed of being a Princess and wearing a crown and having ladies in waiting. They played being Princesses. They played their dreams.

A lot of Australians still think of the English monarchs as being 'ours'. Sort of. We liked Lady Di and Fergie and we really liked the Queen Mother. She was very cute and cuddly and she was a sweet little nanna. We really really like Prince Harry - even though he is a ginger. We really really like Pippa too even though we know she is not a Royal but we consider her Royalish though.

We think Pippa and Harry could hit it off. The majority of Australians think that Harry would have had a crack at Pippa at the Wedding or at the after party - for sure. Australians would like to see Harry marry Pippa and create some Royal history by brothers marrying sisters. We think that the English would go mad for it.

We don't really like Camilla but we have accepted her.

When I was getting a coffee this morning I asked one of the English that I work with if he knew that when the throne of the current Queen is handed over to her son Charles - and he becomes King - would she then be referred to as the King's Mother? I also asked him if he thought whether the twenty second of July would one day be a Bank Holiday - for the King's birthday.

His response rather took me by surprise. He told me that he didn't know but he said this in a rather contemptuous way. He spat it out at me. I thought his hostility and defensiveness was unnecessary and uncalled for. These are genuine questions and I was not mocking. When I told him that I thought that his disdainful response was unwarranted he made some English scoffing noises at me and then he rudely walked off.


Australians liked the Royal Wedding. We joined up with the New Zealanders in Singapore and we banded with the English for their moment. We tuned in to watch Kate and Williams wedding with them. We watched it beamed in live on a cinema sized screen in a British pub and it was on every TV in every bar on the Island. I recall many of the English getting all dressed up in Union Jack stuff. I remember witnessing them weeping gin enhanced tears of joy watching the four hour ceremony. My normally dour and hard friend the Hammer sobbed throughout. The Hammer is a giant of a man who is from Lancashire - he is a Northerner and they rarely laugh or cry. 

We all thought the Royal Wedding was beautiful.

OK it is 7.15pm local time and the Royal baby is leaving hospital with Kate and William. I am watching it live on television on the BBC channel. Mum looks a bit tired but otherwise well and the baby looks like a baby. The flash of cameras is extraordinary and the crowd has gone wild. Hysterical Paparazzi are calling out to the Prince and Kate and asking for the name of the child. The Prince smilingly informed all that they were undecided yet.

Prince William speaks very posh and he is the spitting image of his father Charles but he looks nothing like his brother Harry the redhead.

The announcement of name of the Royal Baby will be the next BIG part of the frenzy. I suspect there will be many thousands of the monarch fanatic zealots camped out at the gates of Buckingham Palace for the next few days. They will be waiting to witness a Royal announcement from the Royal palace. It will be one of their "I was there" events.

We Colonials are of British stock - albeit the convict type. Remote and wild Australia was the dumping ground for convicts by the English in the early part of the nineteenth century. Deportation was considered by many to be a punishment worse than death. The English jails were overflowing because the English Political and Judicial system had gone mad. It still is. Thousands of people were unemployed and starving and harsh and crazy laws were in place. Adults and children were imprisoned for stealing loaves of bread and some were sent to the other side of the world. They were sent to Australia.

This was the establishment of White Australia - two hundred years ago. Black Australia had already been around for many thousands of years and the land belongs to them.

A lot of the world loves British Royals. When I strolled past Buckingham Palace early yesterday evening I saw the crowds that were at the Gates waiting for the news. There were thousands of people gathered. The news of the birth of the Royal Baby came from the St Mary's hospital so these people at the Palace must just be fanatic Royalists. They are zealots.

Royalty is mostly revered where it still exists and particularly by the English - however the people of Thailand adore their Royal family and so too do the Danes and Swedes and the Dutch.

Royalty once commanded nations and a single family or person made decisions for the masses. They decided Laws and Taxes and Wars and they commanded armies. They are all mostly powerless figureheads now and politicians dictate law and serve the people. 

Sometimes in Democracies.

It must be very strange being part of a Royal family. They are very closely scrutinized it seems, and they have little privacy. Every aspect of their lives is known to the population and it is reported in the media. There have been scandals and mysteries. In recent times there have been the mysterious crash that claimed Princess Diana, there was her torrid affair with a red-headed Army Office, there was an episode of toe sucking involving Fergie, Nazi salutes by the Ginger Prince Harry and photos of a topless Kate. It is a living soap opera that is impossible not to like.

The English can't get enough of it.

I am very much hoping that the name of the Royal baby will be announced before I depart London on the weekend. I wish to get some Royal Baby memorabilia. Some tea towels and a bathmat and some mugs and spoons.

Reminders that I was there for it.

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