Princess Charlotte and the web of expectation
Within 10 hours of being born, Princess Charlotte became one of the most photographed babies in the world. She was also one of the very few girls to have their birth marked with a 62-gun salute, soldiers parading on horseback and a military band playing Stevie Wonder songs.
By the time she is 10, it’s estimated that Charlotte will be worth £10 billion to the UK economy alone in tourism, merchandise and media sales — primarily magazines and mugs.
She will have wealth and privilege galore, but will she pay a very high price for it personally?
Royal watchers and paparazzi will scrutinise every move she makes, every piece of clothing she wears and every person she meets. A new hairstyle will make international headlines. A frock shock will send the Twittersphere into overdrive. What’s it going to be like when she first starts school? Goes on her first date? Gets her first pimple?
As a girl Princess Charlotte will come under additional scrutiny because women tend to be more avid royal-watchers, and they’re more interested in the lives of other females.
So what kind of future lies in wait for the youngest British princess?
Will she be cruelly mocked for her fashion styles, body shape and bad choice of hats like her dad’s cousins Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice?
Will she be adored and indulged like her party boy Uncle Harry?
Or will she be hard-working and stay out of the limelight like her aunt Princess Anne?
One commentator this week suggested tiny Charlotte “will be free to forge her own career” and will be a “thoroughly modern 21st-century princess”.
It’s hard to know what this might mean in practical terms.
As the daughter of a future king, her career choices will be severely curtailed into a handful of suitable narrow professions — that’s if she gets to have a real job at all. It will help if she likes either fashion or horses.
Let’s hope that, unlike her mother, she is able to have a life and career of her own. Prince William is second in the line for the throne, but he has a job as an air ambulance helicopter pilot. Kate’s job is to be the wife of a future king and the mother of two more monarchs-in-waiting. It’s hardly a modern role, is it?
No doubt William and Kate will be keen to ensure they learn from the experiences of some of the other Windsors who have been “spares” rather than heirs.
Take Prince Harry, whose army duties seem to give him a sense of purpose, but who’s also made headlines for cavorting with naked women and wearing Nazi uniforms to parties.
And, of course, there was the Queen’s sister Princess Margaret, who wasn’t allowed to marry the man she loved, couldn’t ever have a career of her own, and turned to drink to mask the disappointment of her unfulfilled life.
Perhaps the closest role models for the young Princess are Beatrice and Eugenie, both of whom have jobs of their own, but still carry out some royal duties.
The young women live a curiously double life: one day they may appear on the balcony of Buckingham Palace with their grandmother the Queen in front of 100,000 people. The next day they may be found in jeans and T-shirts popping into Target with their mum.
There’s no doubt that in the next few years William and Kate will be keen to protect their new brood from prying eyes and camera lenses, and to give them an everyday childhood of swimming lessons and trips to the local playground.
The pair is expected to spend more time at their country home Anmer Hall in Norfolk, where their children will have much more freedom and privacy than in London. Kate’s parents, Carole and Michael Middleton, are tipped to play a key role in the lives of their royal grandchildren.
This won’t be easy. Protocols are in place to protect the young family from photographs of them being published when they are off-duty, but the global might of the internet and social media makes this difficult to police.
Funny, isn’t it? Most people would give anything for a taste of royal life, while the royals just want to be a little more normal. Let’s hope this dear little girl does get a chance to live a happy — if totally abnormal — life. Blog with Susie at susieobrien.com.au, Facebook.com/NewswithSuse and follow her on Twitter @susieob