An Open Letter to The New Prince

by Stephen Tall on July 22, 2013

Dear Your Highness,
Kate and William
Congratulations on being born! It’s the first universal experience you’ll share in common with your subjects-to-be. From now on, your life and the lives of the 2,000 other babies born in the UK today will begin to diverge. You probably won’t notice this happen for a good, long while (nor will they). But, eventually, one day it will hit you: your life has been marked out to be different from the very start.

The reason is simple. It’s not just that, as every media outlet informs us, ‘the whole world was waiting’ for you to be born. It’s not just that a thousand cameras are poised in anticipation of that first aww-inspiring snap of the most freshly-minted Royal. It’s not just that your name is itself the subject of a major betting market.

No, the reason is simpler than all that: you are the third in line to the throne. As the heir to the heir of the heir, you are destined one day to wear the crown which signifies you are my monarch, my head of state.

I’m sure you’ll wear that laurel lightly, to begin with at any rate. You’ll have other things to worry about, like eating, sleeping and the other business. Gradually, though, you’ll notice that everyone looks at you — no, stares at you — treats you differently, whether holding you up to an impossible standard or looking down on you because of your accident of birth.

It’s unfair, I know. You’d think we’d be mature enough as a nation not to need human symbols. But, alas, not yet. We cling to you, to your family, project on to you all that we think you should represent. As you grow up, we’ll probably change you a bit. You can’t be talked about that much and not end up responding, moulding yourself, to what you hear.

But at other times you’ll be yourself in a way that makes us believe we’ve got the right to feel you’ve let us down, though we won’t quite know why. I’m afraid that’s the deal with monarchy. In return for your family’s wealth, many of us genuinely think we have the right to own you.

In case you were in any doubt, your destiny is fixed from this moment on. It’s not yours, it’s ours. We may be the subjects in name, but you’re the subject in deed.

And in case you ever forget it, the newspapers will be on hand to remind you: to praise and to judge, to scorn and to exalt: but mostly just to sell a bit of you to us. You are a priceless commodity, as priceless to the proprietors as you are to your parents.

Occasionally we’ll condemn them for their treatment of you, but never so much as to stop them from doing what they do to you. You’re tiny and defenceless now, and that’s just how we’d like to keep you.

Just so you know, I’m a Republican Monarchist. I respect your Family’s service to our country, recognise the dedication that underpins it. But I also want to set you free. You’re a flawed human, just like all the others born today and who will be born tomorrow. You should be able to make your own way in life, do what you want, and achieve what you can on your own worth.

You have everything going for you, except the one thing that’s most precious of all: liberty. I’m sorry about that, little fella. That’s just the way things are around here. Maybe one day your future subjects will see sense and release you.

Until then, all the very best.

Stephen

* Stephen Tall is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice, a Research Associate for the liberal think-tank CentreForum, and also writes at his own site, The Collected Stephen Tall.