A little English boy has appeared on the scene to charm us.
Since the weather across great swathes of the northern hemisphere has finally decided to behave more seasonally, most of us have gone into vacation modus – regardless of whether we’re on hols or not. It’s the time of year to pretend it’s not at all important:
(1) That the NSA is keeping tabs on us across the world, listening in on our calls, tracking our emails, (watching every time we head for the bathroom).
(2) That Edward Snowdon, a man who opened our eyes, is a hunted and haunted figure who may never ever feel safe again no matter what country finally grants him exile.
(3) That people are dying daily in their fight for self-determination in the Middle East and in many other parts of the globe.
(4) That terrorists somewhere are, as I write, planning the next attack on innocent bystanders.
At the same time, in London, a huge fuss is being made over a new-born.On the evening of his birth, he was the only news in Britain. Last night I tuned into the BBC and enjoyed watching Mr and Mrs Cambridge leaving St Mary’s Hospital in London, cradling their one-day-old son. Mr Cambridge opened the door for his wife so she could climb into the backseat of their black, upmarket SUV. Then he jumped into the driver’s seat. Waving to the staff and well-wishers, the Cambridges drove home to their modest apartment at Kensington Palace. These Royals are nothing if not modern.
As yet we don’t know his name. No doubt he’ll be christened with a half-dozen of them to choose from, like his fathers before him. And one day he’ll sit on Britain’s throne as head of state. He’ll possess no real power; at best he’ll wield influence. He’ll be drop-dead gorgeous – that, too, is easy to predict! – just like his Mom and Dad. It may take 50 years until he is a reigning monarch, but in twenty years he’ll already bear the title of World’s Most Eligible Bachelor and cause girls of the right age to suffer from severe heart palpitations.
You can look on the royal birth – and everything else royal, for that matter – as something quaintly British and slightly past its sell-by date. Or you can see it as one society’s modus vivendi, their way of melding tradition with change. Like the British Constitution and legal system, the British Crown is a perfect example of evolution. I don’t expect to be around when this child steps up to that colossal gilded chair, but I am very curious about how his role will have evolved. And what state will Britain – and the rest of the world – be in by the mid to late 21st century when he succeeds his father to the throne?
Not being a science fiction reader, I haven’t schooled my imagination to think along the lines of what could/would/should be in the future. It’s hard enough for me to think in reverse, i.e. to look back from 2013 to the early nineties when cell telephony, personal computers and internet technology were still in their infancy and realize that these developments now shaping our daily lives barely existed then.
But if I go beyond the inevitable innovations that technology will thrust upon us, I’m left wondering more about who we will become. Do all the changes change the people, too? And if so, for better or worse?
Perhaps it’s a blessing that here and there, some institutions, like the British Monarchy, persist, if only to remind us of how far we’ve come.