Wilfrid Koponen is a personal friend, and a friend of the Tearoom since the very beginning – 15 years! He has a longstanding interest and an in-depth knowledge of British monarchy, and a passion for their royal culture. In this Guest Blog he shares his view on the imminent royal birth, a subject Americans are ambivalent about.
Why is a Royal Birth an Occasion for Joy?
By Wilfrid R. Koponen
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (Prince William of Wales and his wife, the former Catherine Middleton) await the birth of their second child. Many share excitement over a younger sibling for their son, Prince George of Cambridge, whose birth in 2013 marked only the second time in British history that the monarch has had three heirs in direct line of succession. Why do we care? Huey Long once proclaimed “every man a king,” cashing in on the fantasy value of monarchy long after America cut political ties. Young girls still identify with Cinderella and the princess from Frozen.
Before Queen Victoria reigned (1837–1901), the popularity of the monarch rose and fell with sentiments towards policy, but during Victoria’s reign, the monarchy lost most of its power and became almost purely symbolic. In the 1980s and 1990s, a media frenzy surrounded Prince William’s mother—often incorrectly called Princess Diana. (Her correct title was Diana, Princess of Wales.) But Fleet Street realized long ago, in the 1800s, that the royal family sold newspapers. Victoria encouraged the press to portray the royal family as an idealized embodiment of middle-class values. Diana, like Victoria, capitalized on the public’s thirst for news about the royal family.
Prince William’s parents could not sustain the illusion of having a happy marriage. William and Catherine, it seems, love each other, making us hope that they find the happiness that eluded Charles and Diana—happiness everyone desires. The arrival of a new prince or princess represents our future hopes.
What a great question: “Why do we care?” The word COURTESY comes from the original word meaning court, or courtly behavior. Wilfrid is one of those who actually treats others in this way, like a queen or a king. Yes, young girls still want to be princesses, and little boys want to be heroes. Don’t we all? When we treat each other like royalty, just think of the many Occasions for Joy we may add to our world!