FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Natal Drama

by BINOY KAMPMARK

“The heir is almost apparent.”

Alex Pappas, Jul 23, 2013

Melbourne.

New born babies do have sacral powers, a bewitching sense of presence.  They are also incorporated into human rituals – their arrival spells symbolic gusto, a promise of what is to come.

Even in an age when the entire process of death and child birth have assumed the air of medicalised procedure over magic, we can still find, in the arrival of latest royal to the House of Windsor, totemic powers at work.  But what is near inexplicable is that the royals have, through this natal drama, become a source of balmy interest to not merely the British public, but a global one.

The royals do, as they have always done: breed.  Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, followed the royal brief to a tee.  Since the royals can no longer take marriage and breeding to the next level – conquest, military glory and territorial consolidation – the very process of childbirth has become a spectacle.  “Problem one,” posed James Delingpole of The Spectator (Jul 22), “you’re a constitutional monarch.  This means that when eventually your dad pops his clogs, you won’t be able to do nearly so much of the cool stuff as you might have done had you been born to the same position 500 years earlier.”

They are good for something after all, even in degenerate scenes more akin to a reality television show. Oh, but for the camera to be placed in doors, something that was not going to happen as “these are the Windsors, not the Kardashians” (New York Times, Jul 22).  But Hilary Mantel said it better than most when she pointed out in the London Review of Books (Feb 21), quite rightly, that someone like the Duchess of Cambridge was a product of committee “and built by craftsmen, with a perfect plastic smile and the spindles of her limbs hand-turned and gloss varnished.”  The Duchess was selected precisely because she was free of risk, devoid of noticeable quirks. Creaseless, dull in her perfection, she would be ideal for William.

The process of this production, from the point of when there was evidence of a “bump” to the point when the bump was expelled, has titillated audiences. When was the Duchess admitted?  And why, oh why didn’t that damn child show itself earlier, stubbornly clinging to the womb for fear of the alternative?  As Darren Walsh would tweet, “Prince Williams’ heir is falling out.”

Every point in this drama has to be documented with painful tediousness.  As Tony Wright, national affairs editor of the Melbourne Age pointed out, similar hysterical treatment was offered the child’s father when he came out to Australia in 1983 with his parents, Prince Charles and Princess Diana.  On news that William was seen on the patio of a homestead in Woomargama having taken his first steps, editors in London lost their collective heads.  “How many steps exactly?  Precisely where did the child toddle?” (The Age, Jul 23).  Pictures were screamed for.

Then come the gifts and congratulations.  As slavery and official gifts of war booty has been outlawed, heads of state have to resort to pitifully dull items and choice words.  While the new baby Windsor can hardly affect Washington’s policy one way or the other, President Barack Obama could still find time in his busy schedule to note the “special relationship” enjoyed by Britain and the United States, and “all the happiness and blessings parenthood brings.”

The Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has asked that the Taronga Zoo bilby enclosure be named after the child – an apt statement given his recent declaration that asylum seekers, children included, will be detained in enclosed facilities at Manus Island in Papua New Guinea.  (Incidentally, we have yet to hear what those at Taronga think.)  The previous Prime Minister – the now deposed Julia Gillard – was making a knitted kangaroo for the royal offspring before being cut in mid-session.  It might be wise to call it quits now.

It is also fitting that the child, in this sense, is object, rather than subject, a point of reference rather than a creature of self. It doesn’t matter where this offspring actually goes – the pathway is minted by custom and archaic precedent, even if people will speculate. Ponder, instead, the curious situation of a birth funded by state benefits.  “The consensus that it is feckless and irresponsible for couples who rely on state benefits to reproduce,” wrote a spiky Laurie Penny of The New Statesman (Jul 22), “clearly does not extend to the monarchy.”  That old business of the patriarchal lottery again.

Binoy Kampmark was as Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge.  He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne.  Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

 

Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

More articles by:
June 29, 2016
Diana Johnstone
European Unification Divides Europeans: How Forcing People Together Tears Them Apart
Andrew Smolski
To My Less-Evilism Haters: A Rejoinder to Halle and Chomsky
Jeffrey St. Clair
Noam Chomsky, John Halle and a Confederacy of Lampreys: a Note on Lesser Evil Voting
David Rosen
Birth-Control Wars: Two Centuries of Struggle
Sheldon Richman
Brexit: What Kind of Dependence Now?
Yves Engler
“Canadian” Corporate Capitalism
Lawrence Davidson
Return to the Gilded Age: Paul Ryan’s Deregulated Dystopia
Priti Gulati Cox
All That Glitters is Feardom: Whatever Happens, Don’t Blame Jill Stein
Franklin Lamb
About the Accusation that Syrian and Russian Troops are Looting Palmyra
Binoy Kampmark
Texas, Abortion and the US Supreme Court
Anhvinh Doanvo
Justice Thomas’s Abortion Dissent Tolerates Discrimination
Victor Grossman
Brexit Pro and Con: the View From Germany
Manuel E. Yepe
Brazil: the Southern Giant Will Have to Fight
Rivera Sun
The Nonviolent History of American Independence
Adjoa Agyeiwaa
Is Western Aid Destroying Nigeria’s Future?
Jesse Jackson
What Clinton Should Learn From Brexit
Mel Gurtov
Is Brexit the End of the World?
June 28, 2016
Jonathan Cook
The Neoliberal Prison: Brexit Hysteria and the Liberal Mind
Paul Street
Bernie, Bakken, and Electoral Delusion: Letting Rich Guys Ruin Iowa and the World
Anthony DiMaggio
Fatally Flawed: the Bi-Partisan Travesty of American Health Care Reform
Mike King
The “Free State of Jones” in Trump’s America: Freedom Beyond White Imagination
Antonis Vradis
Stop Shedding Tears for the EU Monster: Brexit, the View From the Peloponnese
Omar Kassem
The End of the Atlantic Project: Slamming the Brakes on the Neoliberal Order
Binoy Kampmark
Brexit and the Neoliberal Revolt Against Jeremy Corbyn
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Alabama Democratic Primary Proves New York Times’ Nate Cohn Wrong about Exit Polling
Ruth Hopkins
Save Bear Butte: Mecca of the Lakota
Celestino Gusmao
Time to End Impunity for Suharto’’s Crimes in Indonesia and Timor-Leste
Thomas Knapp
SCOTUS: Amply Serving Law Enforcement’s Interests versus Society’s
Manuel E. Yepe
Capitalism is the Opposite of Democracy
Winslow Myers
Up Against the Wall
Chris Ernesto
Bernie’s “Political Revolution” = Vote for Clinton and the Neocons
Stephanie Van Hook
The Time for Silence is Over
Ajamu Nangwaya
Toronto’s Bathhouse Raids: Racialized, Queer Solidarity and Police Violence
June 27, 2016
Robin Hahnel
Brexit: Establishment Freak Out
James Bradley
Omar’s Motive
Gregory Wilpert – Michael Hudson
How Western Military Interventions Shaped the Brexit Vote
Leonard Peltier
41 Years Since Jumping Bull (But 500 Years of Trauma)
Rev. William Alberts
Orlando: the Latest Victim of Radicalizing American Imperialism
Patrick Cockburn
Brexiteers Have Much in Common With Arab Spring Protesters
Franklin Lamb
How 100 Syrians, 200 Russians and 11 Dogs Out-Witted ISIS and Saved Palmyra
John Grant
Omar Mateen: The Answers are All Around Us
Dean Baker
In the Wake of Brexit Will the EU Finally Turn Away From Austerity?
Ralph Nader
The IRS and the Self-Minimization of Congressman Jason Chaffetz
Johan Galtung
Goodbye UK, Goodbye Great Britain: What Next?
Martha Pskowski
Detained in Dilley: Deportation and Asylum in Texas
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail