By Danny McCarthy, Staff Writer
On Monday, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, a.k.a. Will and Kate, announced that the Duchess was expecting their second child. The announcement came on the heels of Kate’s absence on a royal visit to Oxford due to hyperemesis gravidarum, an acute form of morning sickness that also afflicted Kate in her first pregnancy.
But why should we care about the newest little royal?
Well, aside from the cuteness factor — have you seen the cheeks on Prince George? — this baby could have a definitive and measurable effect on the world of fashion and culture. It’s the “royal effect,” and it’s powerful.
For the Duchess, it was the “Kate Middleton effect.” For her firstborn son, it’s the “George effect.” Broken down, it’s very simple. Anything they are photographed in, every article of clothing and baby blanket, instantly sells out. There are blogs dedicated to Prince George’s fashion sense. In this age of digital surveillance, it’s so easy to know exactly what Kate wore on such-and-such date, and where we can buy it.
Our fascination with the Royals is nothing new; even in the cynicism of 2014, royalty has an intoxicating nostalgia. But with Kate, it’s amplified. Here is the Everygirl, the Girl Next Door, who married royalty. She wears J.Crew, she goes to the gym. Her child wears affordable clothing. Neither is draped in gilded robes nor hidden behind a mother-of-pearl veil. They are accessible and relatable. And that accessibility translates into a mentality of “I could be her.”
But this new baby, the second child, the “spare” to the “heir,” still only a stirring in the womb, will come with its own Givenchy set of baggage. This child continues the legacy of Princess Margaret and Prince Harry — forever prince and never the king. This child will have a greater pull on the heartstrings of the public, because as much as we adore Prince George, this baby is the Kid Next Door. He or she is not the heir, but rather the “heir-adjacent,” and that title carries a heavy weight: scrutinized from birth, but without the eventual perks of ruling the United Kingdom and the fifteen Commonwealth Realms.
The second baby of Will and Kate won’t have the pressure of being king, but the lack of that burden is accompanied by a vaguer direction for the “Big Life Plan.” Will this baby be the “Lovable Goof,” the “Lackluster Forgettable One,” the “Wanderer?” Without the definite, concrete Heir of the Kingdom on its nascent shoulders, this baby is free to carve out an identity for itself. But we can definitely expect some major news coverage on this baby.
Some are already considering this baby to be the key to keeping Scotland a part of the Kingdom, expecting the pregnancy to buoy a spirit of nationalism amongst its citizens. And while it seems unlikely that this baby will keep a discordant kingdom united, that faith could give a hint to its future role. This baby could be a link to the People, a flesh-and-blood bridge between Crown and Citizenry. Without the gilt heaviness on its shoulder, perhaps this baby is free to mingle amongst the commoners and provide a connection that — for all his adorableness — the heir George can’t.