Crikey



Normal Kate’s normal post-George bump a shape of things to come

There is nothing remarkable about the first son of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge; nothing remarkable at all. Well, nothing if we overlook that His Royal Highness is third in line to regal ascent in 16 nations, will enjoy a sweet deal on capital gains his entire life and is, in essence, made not of mere flesh but of money and anachronistic hope.

Despite his extreme youth, Prince George is nothing if not remarkable; but in the days following his delivery the British royal family and a compliant international press have been working to build the “unremarkable” narrative. Earlier today, Prince Harry described the heir as “just like all babies”. Just a little later, the Palace announced that “normal” “dad” Prince William would return to work  after “just” a two-week vacation; a period of respite that brings him into line, apparently, with all the “other dads”.

In a cloying cream-horn reheated by The Age, The Telegraph noted His Highness was blessed with parents who understood “normal” and as we watched him grow, we could expect, “a whole new way of being royal”.

The capital gains tax concessions remain but what has changed, apparently, is that George is Normal. Normal. Normal. So is his dad. So is his uncle. And so, naturally, is his mother, who is in fact SO normal that she has, in turn, become remarkable. Which — one suspects — was the media plan all along.

On the portico of her maternity hospital, the middling Duchess did a wonderful job of re-finishing Lady Diana’s pioneering work of “normal”. Whereas the former Princess of Wales had independently and quite unevenly sought a 1990s version of “normal”, this later consort is offering the Palace-approved variety. Diana’s was the sort of normal that wore Versace as it threw its bulimic form down the stairs after extra-marital heartbreak. Cambridge, apparently, is “post-baby-bump” normal.

None of us had seen the post-partum belly referred to as a “post-baby-bump” before this week, but “writers” such as Shelley Hadfield was one of many ready to rebrand damaged tissue with a cute little name. In a “piece” of obsequiousness so errant it would make Rasputin blush, Hadfield’s open letter typifies the pop response to Middleton’s successful hyper-normalisation.

Praised for her courage in standing upright without a foundation garment, the Duchess “may not realise this at the moment (you’ve been a little busy over the past few days), but your public appearance just a day after the future king’s birth has made you an icon for every woman who has ever had a child”.

In an act of confusing piety, Destroy the Joint used its Facebook page to ask its fans if they had ever experienced scrutiny upon giving childbirth; even liberal feminism, it seems, is out to give the Duchess a break. Confusing commentator Laurie Penny has a bet each way in the New Statesman declaring both her loathing for the Monarchy and her compassion for Cambridge as an “object” of media focus. In recent hours, a campaign against OK! magazine has arisen online for its (entirely predictable) report on Cambridge’s Post Baby Body.

These items descend into the kind of schlock that would make an afternoon with Oprah seem like a lecture on consequentialism. Read it for nothing but its value in instructing us how “normal” is the new divine.

The divinity of kings has long since evaporated from the British monarchy. We secular consumers weaned at the teat of celebrity can no longer be expected to support the Regent unless he offers us something different; a newer version of divinity. And what he offers — most notably in the present by means of his mother on whose behalf liberal media cheers — is something better than celebrity. It’s “normal”.

And, so cleverly hyper-normal. The new divine is embraced by progressives eager to compare the problems of a princess to their own post-ideology bumps and to Murdoch’s crew now audacious enough to mention the Royal girth.

Cambridge’s temporary bloat is, as the Herald Sun might have it, the hyper-normal “shape of things to come”.

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Categories: Europe, People & Ideas, Print

38 Responses

Comments page: 1 |
  1. Kate will no doubt get back to her usual shape in short time. I’m awaiting the first comments declaring that she lost weight too quickly, that she sets an unreal example for new mums, but that she still looks fabulous anyway & is an inspiration to new mums around the world.

    by mikeb on Jul 26, 2013 at 1:50 pm

  2. Awesome article, if not a little overcooked. More people should be so bitter.

    by Steve Jobs on Jul 26, 2013 at 2:21 pm

  3. HELEN RAZER: How could a woman with your brains rush to piddle where all the social pages writers piddle?

    Inherited royalty is an anachronism and Australians are gormless twats for buying into the royal scam.

    I haven’t actually read your article, and I don’t intend to. I Don’t wish to have my illusions shattered.

    by Venise Alstergren on Jul 26, 2013 at 2:53 pm

  4. Seems like Helen is pulling her punches here.
    Closet monarchist, Ms Razer?
    Kate and Wills’ sprog will be the least inbred royal since the demise of the concubine (or since they stopped rooting whomever they pleased/started using rubbers).
    I guess that makes it a little “normal”er.

    by mattsui on Jul 26, 2013 at 3:27 pm

  5. Closet monarchist”?
    What the sweet toilet are you talking about?
    Did you read this critique of Palace media management or choose instead to do as Madam Kafoops above had and come to a conclusion sans reading?
    FFS.

    by Helen Razer on Jul 26, 2013 at 4:07 pm

  6. A fabulously abnormal critique. The faux-middle-class theatre of putting the baby in the capsule and then self-driving away was a splendid parody of middle-class life, if you could ignore the hordes of panting media. We will have innumerable performances of this Theatre of the Normal, junk-flooding their way down the media gullet, to look forward to.

    by David Sanderson on Jul 26, 2013 at 4:33 pm

  7. I read it. it was alot softer than we’ve come to expect from Helen Razer.
    The other was an attempt at scathing wit. Perhaps I should leave it to the proffessionals…..

    by mattsui on Jul 26, 2013 at 4:33 pm

  8. I’m over it.

    by Sandra Lynn on Jul 26, 2013 at 4:41 pm

  9. VA - unexpectedly, this was a routine piece of reportage, lacking Razer’s usual verbal gymnastics & pyrotechnic imagery.
    Like recent Grundle, almost straight - is there some sort of fiat from above? I think we should be told.
    One small point, “ask its fans if they had ever experienced scrutiny upon giving childbirth” - as distinct from aardvark or zebra birth?

    by AR on Jul 26, 2013 at 8:37 pm

  10. So she wasn’t allowed to have the baby induced (inducted? that would be nice) I suppose that the stoic thing may be part of the job too. There was an official Baby Verification Ceremony, it’s not surprising after the Beyonce thing, I think that people were starting to wonder if there was any strangeness about the situation after the last hospital drama and that may explain the number of press waiting. Also not surprising if these people take some pleasure in not having to deliver svelte because they are hereditary and therefore money doesn’t always have to be a signifier. I did wonder about the mother-in-law dress, particularly with that “mother looks, father here” jibe - is there disapproval from Queen about how they are doing their job, and equally is there pressure on Queen to abdicate. Also a dig here at dwindling public support, no doubt. Also of course a Diana Charles reference how could anyone resist. “Mums” - chrysanthemums, Mother’s day, champagne, the Queen, and Katherine’s new label. I could be wrong but was there also a kind of smug contempt for the new acquiescence of the young couple to the role - the wave, the ordinariness. No longer are they expected to play the glamourous designer couple, now they begin the parent role play. And so they are a little tired, they are working for the nation, they are simplifying, they are a little poorer, a little plainer. Which actually is good, because if they were to do the Beckham thing, the nation actually could be affected by the subsequent increase in affluent behaviour and expectation. But the thing I’m most interested in are these hints of historical protocol and hereditary privilege. They just do not have to do what other celebrities do, and then there are things that they have to do that other celebrities don’t. And how amazing is that, this baby already having strongly experienced how excited people will always be over it’s wave. The first learning imperative. From the very first there have been crowds of people all expressing awe that he is here. What kind of effect does that have on his brain, I wonder.

    by Lehan Ramsay on Jul 27, 2013 at 4:09 am

  11. I thought the wave was a bit freaky, but then I wondered if they’d both been on the drip a bit, there, they looked wobbly. It’s quite common in Japan, that sudden shift into “mother and father” identity. Where there is no longer a young couple, clothing and behaviour and names are now about parenthood, not only will they be called mother and father but they will actually call each other mother and father and the child will become the focus of the relationship. Now either of the parents expressing something that is not about “parent” will be quite frowned at, and that may continue for some time. And then at the same time there will be this more modern, more contemporary, and more celebrity-like demand that she go beyond that, resist that, do “more” than that. If she doesn’t get her body, and that baby, out onto the street somehow for people to look at, they will be furious, and at that point there will be a kind of “WE ARE PAYING FOR THIS!” backlash. To refer to the Beckhams again just because…although such celebrities might usually only surface for press-press when they have something about to start selling, at baby-time they actually lose that kind of control. I suppose it’s because they become a little more vulnerable to public opinion.

    by Lehan Ramsay on Jul 27, 2013 at 4:24 am

  12. And how vulnerable are they to public opinion? Hugely vulnerable, quite unbearably vulnerable when you think about it. Because of Diana, and that is quite weird. William appears to be “seen” as William, but the whole sorry story of Diana that sits somehow just out of the picture is in a weird way being transferred to Katherine. She now becomes the one carrying that, and if she slips in any way it will spill out all over her. Really the only way she can avoid it is to be absolutely automaton, because if she wants more, if she has any disatisfaction, if she expresses anything, anything at all, other than that blissful zonky look she has in that photograph, then as far as the press or the public is concerned she’s on her way to madness or breakdown. And really there are few ways to avoid that. She can have a lot of kids and just get busy with that. She can become reclusive and “unfriendly”. She can become “ill”. Or she can be a divorcee, in which case she’s a lousy money-grabbing bitch and we’re back to Fergie. It’s not very nice, being royal.

    by Lehan Ramsay on Jul 27, 2013 at 4:34 am

  13. And how vulnerable are they to public opinion? Hugely vulnerable, quite unbearably vulnerable when you think about it. Because of Diana, and that is quite weird. William appears to be “seen” as William, but the whole sorry story of Diana that sits somehow just out of the picture is in a weird way being transferred to Katherine. She now becomes the one carrying that, and if she slips in any way it will spill out all over her. Really the only way she can avoid it is to be absolutely automaton, because if she wants more, if she has any disatisfaction, if she expresses anything, anything at all, other than that blissful zonky look she has in that photograph, then as far as the press or the public is concerned she’s on her way to madness or breakdown. And really there are few ways to avoid that. She can have a lot of kids and just get busy with that. She can become reclusive and “unfriendly”. She can become “ill”. Or she can be a divorcee, in which case she’s money-grabbing and we’re back to Fergie. It’s not very nice, being royal. There. I took out the bad words.

    by Lehan Ramsay on Jul 27, 2013 at 4:38 am

  14. Automatron, Animatron, Matronic. We can imagine that this baby is the monstrous, the adorable and yet vampiric. Were there shades of this role in the Twilight baby thing? It’s NOT just a baby - if she messes up with that baby she messes up with the blood of the NATION. She now has twenty-something years in which to deliver another grown William, with better looks and more hair than the previous version, in time for another Royal wedding, another Royal birth. And we DO NOT want her to succeed, because if she succeeds we will have lost the girl she started as. The common girl. Having never managed to resist that ill that is Royalty.

    by Lehan Ramsay on Jul 27, 2013 at 4:48 am

  15. Crikey, that was most enjoyable.

    by Lehan Ramsay on Jul 27, 2013 at 4:53 am

  16. See I knew there had to be some kind of popular culture reference to that “Will and Kate”. Will and Grace, of course. Normal. I do think you people watch too much television, I’m sorry, and I also think you don’t notice how much it affects you. If every time you hear “Will and Kate” your mind goes to “Will and Grace”, then you’re incorporating quite unnecessary stereotypes into your thinking. I notice that a lot.

    by Lehan Ramsay on Jul 27, 2013 at 5:11 am

  17. Oh. The name. I forgot the name. It does make me think there’s Trouble in Paradise, that the baby gets both Grandma Queen’s name AND Grandma Queen’s Beloved Father God Rest His Head In Heaven’s name. Also Louis, I reckon that may be because of the drip or some kind of labour hormone thing but what can you do people are demanding a name. You know how many people wonder later just what they were THINKING when they chose that name? I reckon that’s Louis. Yep. I’m thinking Arthur met his Sir Lancelot there.

    by Lehan Ramsay on Jul 27, 2013 at 5:32 am

  18. Yawn.
    Get a blog.

    by mattsui on Jul 27, 2013 at 7:19 am

  19. A blog? Is that like a goldfish? If so, I agree.

    by Damien McBain on Jul 27, 2013 at 7:44 am

  20. oh HOW! Crikey peoples mattsui and mcbain.

    CRIKEY RULE #1. YOU MUST OBEY RULES.

    by Lehan Ramsay on Jul 27, 2013 at 9:35 am

  21. ALSO TATTOO?

    by Lehan Ramsay on Jul 27, 2013 at 9:35 am

  22. LEHAN RAMSAY: Not long ago my father died-he was regarded as one of Australia’s most brilliant Orthopaedic surgeons. Lacking any sons, his practice, and its considerable wealth, passed to me.

    Please advise me of any fractures you, or your family might incur, as I am ready to operate on them. See attached price list for quotes……

    by Venise Alstergren on Jul 27, 2013 at 1:25 pm

  23. I’LL TAKE IT VENISE! FRACTURES I GOT IN ABUNDANCE.

    by Lehan Ramsay on Jul 27, 2013 at 1:58 pm

  24. LEHAN RAMSEY: I said fractures (of the bones) not dentures.

    by Venise Alstergren on Jul 27, 2013 at 4:31 pm

  25. Venice I loved that city, isn’t there some kind of big do that Our Princess Mary is going to have in Australia? It’s interesting isn’t it. Denmark.

    by Lehan Ramsay on Jul 27, 2013 at 5:45 pm

  26. All right then.

    by Lehan Ramsay on Jul 27, 2013 at 8:13 pm

  27. I don’t have a lot of time, they may storm the building at any moment. It is likely to have been a brandy snifter.

    by Lehan Ramsay on Jul 27, 2013 at 8:14 pm

  28. Why, you ask a brandy snifter. As for the brandy and the sniffing, I have no idea. But as to why I believe it was a stiff drink, it is because Katherine will not be breastfeeding the issue. There is no good reason why she would be allowed to do that. There are plenty of good wet nurses these days. The real reason though is likely to be that she will not be allowed to breast feed so that the baby’s attachment to her is not fully realized. If there is any reason that she might leave, and there is good reason, especially since William’s mother did, then she will not be given that opportunity. If they were to separate, too, it would make it easier.

    by Lehan Ramsay on Jul 27, 2013 at 8:16 pm

  29. There is nothing new there, whole generations of women were encouraged to do the same by various means, including the film “On the Beach”, starring Ava Gardner and Gregory Peck possibly as Dr Margaret Mead and Mr Gregory Peck although I have not verified this please do not quote me on this. Why do I think that Diana went through a traumatic period dealing with serious estrangement issues as well as the forcible separation from her children is because even a royal does not become that much of a nutter without serious help or serious trauma.

    by Lehan Ramsay on Jul 27, 2013 at 8:19 pm

  30. Moving along to the next patient.

    by Lehan Ramsay on Jul 27, 2013 at 8:19 pm

  31. Well I don’t know who the White Australia Policy was supposed to protect nor whom it was to protect us from I was barely in swaddling at that time wasn’t it all put together in time for the Federation and brought over by one of those drunken Officials god knows who interviewed THEM for the job anyway it didn’t do a very good job, by the time we had to deal with the hordes of Canadians fleeing the hordes of Americans fleeing their own racist warmongering and the hordes of irish fleeing their priests and the hordes of english fleeing the irish - oh! I think I’m going to FEINT - and the hordes of europeans fleeing other europeans bearing european passports which by the way we didn’t even GET so much for being part of the FAMILY, right? there was the hordes of south africans, the hordes of white hong kongians and the hordes of hong-kongianed chinese no aspersions there of course and the previous demigods of papua new guinea we got new zealanders. For god’s sake what could possible be wrong with new zealand. Then of course we got quite a lot of Maoris, and almost all of them have been pretty damn good it was just a few PRINCESSES who had to go and spoil things. Frankly? I think we’re just about up to the eyeballs in the pride of the colonial refugees. Don’t talk to ME about the White Australia Policy I’m going to brood.

    by Lehan Ramsay on Jul 28, 2013 at 12:42 pm

  32. Well I don’t know who the White Australia Policy was supposed to protect nor whom it was to protect us from I was barely in swaddling at that time wasn’t it all put together in time for the Federation and brought over by one of those wobbly Officials god knows who interviewed them for the job anyway it didn’t do a very good job, by the time we had to deal with the hordes of Canadians fleeing the hordes of Americans fleeing their own racies warmongering and the hordes of irish fleeing their priests and the hordes of english fleeing the irish - oh! I think I’m going to feint - and the hordes of europeans fleeing other europeans bearing european passports which by the way we didn’t even get so much for being part of the family, right? there was the hordes of south africans, the hordes of white hong kongians and the hordes of hong-kongianed chinese no aspersions there of course and the previous demigods of papua new guinea we got new zealanders. For godless’s sake what could possible be wrong with new zealand. Then of course we got quite a lot of Maoris, and almost all of them have been pretty damn good it was just a few princesses who had to go and spoil things I’m a Princess! I’m a Princess! Ooooh. Frankly? I think we’re just about up to the eyeballs in the pride of the colonial refugees. Don’t talk to me about the White Australia Policy I’m going to brood.

    by Lehan Ramsay on Jul 28, 2013 at 12:45 pm

  33. nEuro Linguistic Programming keep up please.

    by Lehan Ramsay on Jul 28, 2013 at 12:54 pm

  34. HELEN RAZER: I have since re-read the article. And my comment still stands.

    Also, you’ve used far too many words, presumably to eke out the imagined sarcasm, and a smattering of your usual vinegar to belabour the point that this curious couple are the first people on the planet to have had a child. Not!

    By joining the platitudinous scribblings of overheated waffle churned out by No Idea, Women’s Weakly, et al you merely add a faint tinge of veracity to their inanities.

    by Venise Alstergren on Jul 28, 2013 at 1:35 pm

  35. Lehan - I’ll have some of whatever you are taking.

    by mikeb on Jul 29, 2013 at 8:22 am

  36. MIKEB: It’s a troll. I recognise the syntax.

    by Venise Alstergren on Jul 29, 2013 at 4:13 pm

  37. As trolls go, it hasn’t chosen its bridges very well.
    Kept my inbox full all w/e, though.

    by mattsui on Jul 29, 2013 at 4:42 pm

  38. MATTSUI: Hehehe. He/she has taken a fairly new approach-to Crikey anyway. Usually they operate by choosing a right wing stance. This is coupled by offensive personal remarks. This one (or however many of them )operate by being jovial, if not friendly, then blasting the cypersphere with multiple entries.

    This lot use almost the same syntax as a few of the people who troll at Crikey-one very visible offender posted as a woman from the country whose avatar is a blue map of Oz with a union jack-like the flag, which isn’t even a proper flag. The much vaunted Oz flag is, in fact a British naval ensign-.

    I digress. Try estimating the punctuation, whether there are split infinitives, the grammar, the spelling and the phraseology. Gotta go.

    Cheers

    Venise

    by Venise Alstergren on Jul 29, 2013 at 8:31 pm

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