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”.
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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”.