Though guilty of regicide in a moment of history, the Britons have turned out to be one of the most loyal monarchists in Europe. As the years pass by, it has become increasingly obvious that the affection which the average person in Britain feels for the royal family is entirely genuine. Nothing showed this devotion with greater clarity than at the death of the Princess of Wales, Diana, when even the Queen faced criticism for being cold and distant initially. Now, the birth of a boy — who is Diana’s grandson — to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, William and Kate, has again been marked by a heart-warming display of love and delight. It is almost as if a child has been born in every British family.
Hence, the lavish expenditure of 95 million pounds on sparkling wine to toast the birth, 38 million on party food, 86 million on commemorative memorabilia, 117 million on DVDs and books and 37 million on toys with the royal baby as the theme. Considering that Britain is yet to emerge from a painful recession, cynics may regard the splurging on the royal pregnancy and birth as an attempt by the people, perhaps with a little encouragement from the authorities and business houses, to forget the difficulties of their present quotidian existence.
But such derision fails to take into account the fact that nations are not rational constructs, that there is more to them than the price of bread and bus fares. Nowhere is this more true than in Britain which has reposed extraordinary faith in a family which has been accused of living an entirely subsidised existence in large palaces and with a fleet of cars and yachts at their leisurely disposal. Yet, not only does anyone mind, the exalted household is valued instead as an integral part of the island’s long history of kings and queens and the fabled round table of King Arthur.