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A Prince By Any Other Name Would ... Live In Hollywood

There is this, at least, to be said of the royal heir born on Monday to Britain’s House of Windsor: his parents won’t be naming him North or Apple or Blanket.

The millions of dollars in bets being wagered worldwide on the name Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge choose for their son tilt toward the traditional. Betting slips are piling up for James or George, Phillip or Charles. No wagers reported on Ace, Zuma or Xander, the choices, respectively, of B-list American royals Jessica Simpson, Gwen Stefani and January Jones for their recent male offspring.

There is this, at least, to be said of the royal heir born on Monday to Britain’s House of Windsor: his parents won’t be naming him North or Apple or Blanket.

Maybe that is reason enough to forgo sneering at the commoners, wrapped in the union jack, who camped outside St. Mary’s Hospital in record-breaking London heat this week in anticipation of the birth of a baby far enough down the line of succession that he is unlikely ever to wear the crown. They were awaiting the birth of a national symbol, not a cheesy celebrity’s sprout.

The scolds are right, of course: The British monarchy is a relic. News of a royal birth does not merit interrupting network television programming (NBC and ABC) or the contributions of six reporters (The New York Times). There is something disgraceful about British taxpayers spending more than $50 million a year supporting these well-heeled wards of the state at a time when 2.5 million of their subjects are out of work. Not for nothing did we spill so much blood on this side of the Atlantic to rid ourselves of those entrenched elites.

But let’s not be too smug. We have also spent the last 237 years elevating pallid substitutes for kings and queens to satisfy some ineffable craving for a titled class. We’ve turned to Hollywood, to Wall Street, even to Washington for our own brand of American royalty.

As it happens, His Royal Highness Prince (Name TBA) of Cambridge was born on what would have been Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy’s 123rd birthday. Barbara A. Perry, the author of an affectionate new biography of the mother of 35th president of the United States, says the Kennedy matriarch would have been thrilled by the coincidence.

Rose certainly reveled in the trappings of aristocracy in that pre-war period when Joseph P. Kennedy served as President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s ambassador to the Court of Saint James. “I must be dreaming that I, Rose Kennedy, a simple young matron from Boston, am really here at Windsor Castle, the guest of the queen and two little princesses,” Rose wrote a little disingenuously in her memoirs about her feelings at the time. (It's unlikely that the pampered daughter of Boston Mayor John Francis “Honey Fitz” Fitzgerald ever considered herself a simple young matron.) Rose took plenty of notes at Windsor Castle (and at Blenheim, Cliveden, Chartwell and Chatsworth), adapting her experiences across the pond to create an American mystique around her own brood of faux royals on Nantucket Sound.

Let’s not be too smug. We have also spent the last 237 years elevating pallid substitutes for kings and queens to satisfy some ineffable craving for a titled class.

The generations of couture-clad British icons who will take a bow later this week on the balcony of Buckingham Palace with their progeny — the youngest just born — are no more likely than mere mortals to succeed in the domestic sphere — see Charles and Diana — but who does not warm to the birth of a new baby and all the hope it represents?

When the youngest of Rose and Joe Kennedy’s nine children was born on February 22, 1932, the older brother who would be his godfather begged his parents to let him name the new baby. Jack Kennedy wanted to call his brother George Washington Kennedy to honor their shared birthday. The future president’s parents demurred, instead naming the baby Edward Moore Kennedy after the loyal and hard-working aide who saw in the shining Kennedys a surrogate family. Not unlike those ordinary Brits waiting patiently this week, wrapped in union jacks, outside St. Mary’s Hospital in London.


UPDATE July 24 at 1:25 PM: The Royal Baby Gets A Name: George Alexander Louis. Read more about the significance here.


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This program aired on July 24, 2013. The audio for this program is not available.

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