FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Natal Drama

“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

 

More articles by:

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

January 23, 2019
Paul Street
Time for the U.S. Yellow Vests
Charles McKelvey
Popular Democracy in Cuba
Kenn Orphan
The Smile of Class Privilege
Leonard Peltier
The History Behind Nate Phillips’ Song
Kenneth Surin
Stalled Brexit Goings On
Jeff Cohen
The System’s Falling Apart: Were the Dogmatic Marxists Right After All?
Cira Pascual Marquina
Chavez and the Continent of Politics: a Conversation with Chris Gilbert
George Ochenski
Turning Federal Lands Over to the States and Other Rightwing Fantasies
George Wuerthner
Forest Service Ignores Science to Justify Logging
Raouf Halaby
In the Fray: Responses to Covington Catholic High
Kim C. Domenico
No Saviors But Ourselves; No Disobedience Without Deeper Loyalty
Ted Rall
Jury Trial? You Have No Right!
Michael Doliner
The Pros and Cons of Near Term Human Extinction
Lee Ballinger
Musical Unity
Elliot Sperber
The Ark Builders
January 22, 2019
Patrick Cockburn
On the Brink of Brexit: the Only Thing Most People Outside Westminster Know About Brexit is That It’s a Mess
Raouf Halaby
The Little Brett Kavanaughs from Covington Catholic High
Dean Baker
The Trump Tax Cut is Even Worse Than They Say
Stanley L. Cohen
The Brazen Detention of Marzieh Hashemi, America’s Newest Political Prisoner
Karl Grossman
Darth Trump: From Space Force to Star Wars
Glenn Sacks
Teachers Strike Dispatch #8: New Independent Study Confirms LAUSD Has the Money to Meet UTLA’s Demands
Haydar Khan
The Double Bind of Human Senescence
Alvaro Huerta
Mr. President, We Don’t Need Your Stinking Wall
Howard Lisnoff
Another Slugger from Louisville: Muhammad Ali
Nicole Patrice Hill – Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
The Scarlet “I”: Climate Change, “Invasive” Plants and Our Culture of Domination
Jonah Raskin
Disposable Man Gets His Balls Back
Thomas Knapp
Now More Than Ever, It’s Clear the FBI Must Go
January 21, 2019
W. T. Whitney
New US Economic Attack Against Cuba, Long Threatened, May Hit Soon
Jérôme Duval
Macronist Repression Against the People in Yellow Vests
Dean Baker
The Next Recession: What It Could Look Like
Eric Mann
All Hail the Revolutionary King: Martin Luther King and the Black Revolutionary Tradition
Binoy Kampmark
Spy Theories and the White House: Donald Trump as Russian Agent
Edward Curtin
We Need a Martin Luther King Day of Truth
Bill Fried
Jeff Sessions and the Federalists
Ed Corcoran
Central America Needs a Marshall Plan
Colin Todhunter
Complaint Lodged with European Ombudsman: Regulatory Authorities Colluding with Agrochemicals Industry
Manuel E. Yepe
The US War Against the Weak
Weekend Edition
January 18, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
Star Wars Revisited: One More Nightmare From Trump
John Davis
“Weather Terrorism:” a National Emergency
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Sometimes an Establishment Hack is Just What You Need
Joshua Frank
Montana Public Schools Block Pro-LGBTQ Websites
Louisa Willcox
Sky Bears, Earth Bears: Finding and Losing True North
Robert Fisk
Bernie Sanders, Israel and the Middle East
Robert Fantina
Pompeo, the U.S. and Iran
David Rosen
The Biden Band-Aid: Will Democrats Contain the Insurgency?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail