The five reasons it sucks to be the royal baby


Hanna Rosin

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, and their newborn son Prince George leaving the ...

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, and their newborn son Prince George leaving the Lindo Wing of St Mary's hospital. Photo: Getty Images

You're a boy!! Photographers are no doubt right now bribing your parents for the privilege of cramming their zoom lens between the bars of your crib. You're a bigger celebrity than your rivals Suri, Blue Ivy and North West. Life seems sweeter than breast milk, softer than that toy kangaroo the former Australian prime minister Julia Gillard was knitting for you. And it will stay that way until you turn, say eight or nine years old, and you realise what a bummer it is to grow up as the royal heir. I herewith appoint myself the cranky commoner who will preview the five worst things about being you.

1. Heirdom is a burden. Being told at a very young age that you will be king or queen of a major European country seems unequivocally awesome to everyone, but the person hearing the news. When she was two years old, Elizabeth was described by Winston Churchill as a ''character''. He said: ''She has an air of reflectiveness astonishing in an infant.'' Elizabeth was, in other words, born to be queen. In 1969 a 20-year-old Prince Charles was asked when he first realised that he was heir to the throne. ''I didn't suddenly wake up in my pram and say, 'Yippee!' '' he said. ''It's something that dawns on you with the most ghastly inexorable sense … '' His son Harry's confusion on this lot in life was meticulously recorded by the press: He once told a boy at his kindergarten, ''Mummy doesn't go to Sainsbury's - we have our own farm.'' And when children asked why there was a man following him around, he said: ''That's my policeman.''

2. Gone are the days when royal babies were raised by staff, and saw their parents mostly for official viewings. Since Prince Charles - the first male royal present at a birthing - and Diana, the expectation is that royals will raise their children just like the rest of us. Diana took William on a month-long tour of Australia and New Zealand when he was a year old because she did not want to be away from him, and she always insisted on taking William and Harry to amusement parks and fast-food restaurants because that's what regular kids do. But it took Diana only a little while to realise that she wasn't just another working mother but also one of the most sought after working mothers in the world. Kate, too, will realise that being mother of the heir to the throne is a big step up from being the future king's wife; you're just way too busy to play hide the kangaroo every night. Sorry, kid.

Britain's Prince William holds his baby son outside the Lindo Wing of St Mary's Hospital

Britain's Prince William holds his baby son outside the Lindo Wing of St Mary's Hospital Photo: Reuters

3. Your name might not be your name. When naming the future king or queen, one apparently has to choose several names, all from a pretty narrow list, because the name should be from a former royal and also have no strong negative connotations. Prince Harry's real name is Henry Charles Albert David. Also, there is the business of the last name. It's optional, which complicates, say, kindergarten roll call.


4. You're a celebrity! As they waited for you to be born, the paparazzi were polite. But this won't last. What they are really salivating for is a lifetime of pot-smoking and Nazi-costume parties, and for that moment you say something as memorable to your paramour as: ''I want to be reincarnated as a tampon and live inside your trousers forever.'' When William went to boarding school at the age of 13, the royal family made a deal with the press that they would not hound him and accept publicity photos, arguing that ''Prince William is not an institution, nor a soap star, nor a football hero. He is a boy.'' But that kind of lofty indignation does not work in the age of social media. Your room-mate is just as likely to put up an embarrassing photo of you as the Daily Mail is. The best you can hope for is that your parents will be as good as Beyonce and Jay Z are at pre-empting the press, putting up their own faux-revealing pics of you and teaching you how to do the same.

5. You are going to boarding school. The royal family has moved beyond the days when all the girls stayed home with tutors and the boys went to Gordonstoun in Scotland, which in Charles' telling was a lot like Abu Ghraib, with boys punching you in your sleep, stealing your letters, forcing you to take walks in the rain. William and Harry got to go to Eton, where they were much happier but developed the worst of their reputations, particularly Harry. According to a biographer, it was there he founded Club H, a drink and drugs den that earned him the nickname Hash Harry. Boarding school is fun for some kids and the ruination of others, so good luck with that!


Hanna Rosin is the author of The End of Men.


  • Nice choice of title for the article - it challenged me to to be creative when explaining it to my teenage daughter.

    seven hills
    Date and time
    July 26, 2013, 8:49AM
    • You do know George is William's child, not Harry's? Your examples and references tend to relate more to Harry.

      Just saying
      Date and time
      July 26, 2013, 2:05PM
      • How about the fact that the kid has practically zero chance of ever leading an authentic life. He will live in a surreal bubble, even if he joins the military and visits dying children, he'll never truly walk among his fellow men and women. He is destined for an artificial, albeit very comfortable life.

        Date and time
        July 26, 2013, 2:56PM
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