Princess Char­lotte and the web of ex­pec­ta­tion

The Advertiser - SA Weekend - - FRONT PAGE -

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 susieobrie­, Face­­se and fol­low her on Twit­ter @susieob

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