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:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
January 20, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Divide and Rule: Class, Hate, and the 2016 Election
Andrew Levine
When Was America Great?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: This Ain’t a Dream No More, It’s the Real Thing
Yoav Litvin
Making Israel Greater Again: Justice for Palestinians in the Age of Trump
Linda Pentz Gunter
Nuclear Fiddling While the Planet Burns
Ruth Fowler
Standing With Standing Rock: Of Pipelines and Protests
David Green
Why Trump Won: the 50 Percenters Have Spoken
Dave Lindorff
Imagining a Sanders Presidency Beginning on Jan. 20
Pete Dolack
Eight People Own as Much as Half the World
Roger Harris
Too Many People in the World: Names Named
Steve Horn
Under Tillerson, Exxon Maintained Ties with Saudi Arabia, Despite Dismal Human Rights Record
John Berger
The Nature of Mass Demonstrations
Stephen Zielinski
It’s the End of the World as We Know It
David Swanson
Six Things We Should Do Better As Everything Gets Worse
Alci Rengifo
Trump Rex: Ancient Rome’s Shadow Over the Oval Office
Brian Cloughley
What Money Can Buy: the Quiet British-Israeli Scandal
Mel Gurtov
Donald Trump’s Lies And Team Trump’s Headaches
Kent Paterson
Mexico’s Great Winter of Discontent
Norman Solomon
Trump, the Democrats and the Logan Act
David Macaray
Attention, Feminists
Yves Engler
Demanding More From Our Media
James A Haught
Religious Madness in Ulster
Dean Baker
The Economics of the Affordable Care Act
Patrick Bond
Tripping Up Trumpism Through Global Boycott Divestment Sanctions
Robert Fisk
How a Trump Presidency Could Have Been Avoided
Robert Fantina
Trump: What Changes and What Remains the Same
David Rosen
Globalization vs. Empire: Can Trump Contain the Growing Split?
Elliot Sperber
Dystopia
Dan Bacher
New CA Carbon Trading Legislation Answers Big Oil’s Call to Continue Business As Usual
Wayne Clark
A Reset Button for Political America
Chris Welzenbach
“The Death Ship:” An Allegory for Today’s World
Uri Avnery
Being There
Peter Lee
The Deep State and the Sex Tape: Martin Luther King, J. Edgar Hoover, and Thurgood Marshall
Patrick Hiller
Guns Against Grizzlies at Schools or Peace Education as Resistance?
Randy Shields
The Devil’s Real Estate Dictionary
Ron Jacobs
Singing the Body Electric Across Time
Ann Garrison
Fifty-five Years After Lumumba’s Assassination, Congolese See No Relief
Christopher Brauchli
Swing Low Alabama
Dr. Juan Gómez-Quiñones
La Realidad: the Realities of Anti-Mexicanism
Jon Hochschartner
The Five Least Animal-Friendly Senate Democrats
Pauline Murphy
Fighting Fascism: the Irish at the Battle of Cordoba
Susan Block
#GoBonobos in 2017: Happy Year of the Cock!
Louis Proyect
Is Our Future That of “Sense8” or “Mr. Robot”?
Charles R. Larson
Review: Robert Coover’s “Huck out West”
David Yearsley
Manchester-by-the-Sea and the Present Catastrophe
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail