You are currently browsing the daily archive for July 23, 2013.

Two great British summers in a row — and this year we even have the weather to match! It’s been a long time coming.

At 4:24 p.m. on Monday, July 22, 2013 — the hottest day in England since July 19, 2006 — as temperatures reached 33.1°C (91.6°F), the Duchess of Cambridge gave birth to a long-awaited baby, a son.

As I write, His Royal Highness the Prince of Cambridge has not been named. This is normal procedure for the Royal Family, which rightly gives careful consideration to such things.

It was amusing and bemusing to see live news blogs and reports appear in English media. Most of us could have told them that the Royal Family reveal nothing until they issue an official announcement. Foreign media were also present at the Lindo Wing of St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington, among them American and French reporters. RMC has had hourly radio reports over the past 24 hours, saying nothing more than — as expected — the Duchess had gone into labour and, later, that she and the new baby could be leaving hospital today.

The Lindo Wing has long been one of London’s private maternity sites catering to famous British expectant mothers, from millionaires to nobility to royalty. Princess Diana put it at the forefront of women’s minds in the 1980s; both Princes William and Harry were born there. It has a recent history with the Royal Family dating from the late 1970s; both of Princess Anne’s children were born there as were Prince and Princess Michael of Kent’s and the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester’s.

The Daily Mail has a thorough report of the birth with a helpful list of fast facts at the beginning. Here are a few which might dispel rumours circulating beforehand:

– The Duchess was not induced and gave birth naturally.

– Prince William was present for the delivery.

– The Royal couple did not know the sex of the baby in advance.

– Prince William will take two weeks’ paternity leave from the RAF.

– His Royal Highness the Prince of Cambridge replaces Prince Harry as third in line to the throne.

The Duchess was blessed with a child of a healthy weight — 8lb, 6 oz. The next heaviest, weighing five ounces less, was Olympian equestrian Zara Phillips, Princess Anne’s daughter, born in May 1981.

The Queen arrived at Buckingham Palace from Windsor yesterday.

A signed official announcement is displayed in front of the palace behind the gates. In Royal tradition, it is framed and sits on an easel for the public to see.

The Royal birth has attracted much attention in republican France, more than one would have expected. RTL’s morning presenter (also television journalist and specialist in royal families) Stéphane Bern was in London to cover the story for the newspaper Le Parisien. One of his many articles included a live blog detailing the first few hours after the newest Prince’s birth.

As French president François Hollande’s popularity plummets — I could have told them that — the French have been debating the merits or otherwise of a monarchy. Yesterday’s poll in Le Parisien was surprisingly close. The question was, ‘Would you like for France to have a king or a queen?’ The Yes vote garnered 47.7%, but the Noes carried it with 52.3%. Still, that is a narrow margin. RMC’s listeners responded by a similar margin, except with Yeses outweighing the Noes.

Royal heads of state, some claimed, have more stable countries. Is their presence causal or a coincidence? The debate continues. In any event, I’ll give you some surprising financial figures soon demonstrating that Royal families are much cheaper than presidents.

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