A crowd cheered, hundreds of cameras clicked and an image of familial perfection was beamed around the world.
Prince William, his wife Kate and their infant son, the Prince of Cambridge, emerged Tuesday from London’s St. Mary’s Hospital to start a new chapter in their lives — capping a remarkable turnaround for a monarchy that had ended the 20th century at a low point of popularity.
The outpouring of public and official enthusiasm — including artillery salutes, marching bands and landmarks illuminated blue for the royal baby boy — showed that Britain’s royal family is back in its subjects’ affections, especially now that it has an adorable infant heir, third in line to the throne, who could be king into the 22nd century.
Pictures of William, Kate and their baby, whose given names have yet to be announced, echoed a similar image taken 31 years ago, when Prince Charles and Princess Diana left the same hospital with baby William in their arms.
William and Kate’s Westminster Abbey wedding in 2011 was an extravaganza of pageantry that brought thousands into the streets for celebratory parties.
The baby adds a new layer of stability to help the institution thrive for another generation. For the first time since the 19th-century reign of Queen Victoria, Britain has three generations of living heirs to the throne — Prince Charles, William and his baby son.
The cost of affection for the royal family, in our media-saturated times, is a hunger for intimacy. The young royals are global celebrities, and there is a vast demand for images and information about them from the world’s media.
William and Kate will struggle against that hunger as they try to give their son a normal childhood, as much as possible out of the spotlight.
Arbiter said William’s own childhood would help him give his son a balanced upbringing. William was educated alongside children from a wide variety of backgrounds, albeit at some of Britain’s ritziest private schools.
“And, of course, his mother gave him the high street. He knew what it was all about to go to a movie or go into McDonald’s or a book store. He knew how to handle money, which is something older royals didn’t do. He will bring up his children in the way he was brought up, and probably with some new touches from Catherine.”