Prince George Alexander Louis is now two days old, and the internet and media have spent those two days being completely fascinated by him. Look at any news website, and chances are, you’ll find several articles, each repeating the others to a large extent, reporting and commenting on every word that the royal family has said about the baby, declaring how proud Princess Diana would be if she was alive, describing what the baby looks like, and letting us know exactly what Kate was wearing the last time she was seen. (Last I heard, it was a blue polka dot dress reminiscent of what Princess Diana wore shortly after the birth of Prince William.) This baby is currently one of the most popular topics on facebook and twitter and tumblr; every fan of the British royal family wants to say something, even if it’s only a generic congratulatory remark (which the royal family will never personally see) or a comment about how exciting this historical event is.
But not everyone is excited. I’ve been surprised at how many facebook statuses (and even a few internet articles) I’ve seen complaining about the hullabaloo and accusing other people of being obsessive and trivial. They’re annoyed to see coverage of the same story everywhere they look, especially when it’s something that will have no impact on their own lives or the lives of their family and friends. Some of them even take the time to post their own opinions online, complaining about the degree of everyone else’s interest.
It was the same way when the new prince’s parents got married a little over years ago. The media was obsessed, the general public was fascinated, and an enormous number of people tuned in to watch the royal wedding live on TV, even though, for those of us in North America, it was in the middle of the night. A few of the pictures from the wedding became iconic images in pop culture and the news for the following several months, and even now, most people can remember off the top of their heads exactly what the new Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding dress looked like. But yet there were other people who were tired of hearing about the royal wedding even before it happened, who were either annoyed or amused at anyone who was particularly enthralled with the story, and who wished that the media would let the event pass out of the magazines and newspapers as soon as it was over.
I’m not among those people who pulled an all-nighter to watch the royal wedding live, and I’m not one of those people who has been fanatically keeping track of every detail of Kate’s pregnancy. In fact, I hadn’t remembered offhand even approximately when the royal baby was expected to be born. But I enjoyed seeing after-the-fact online news about the royal wedding, and I’ve enjoyed keeping an eye on the news regarding the new prince over the last couple days, and I personally think it’s wonderful that the media is so excited about the life events of Kate and William and their new son.
Most of what we see in the news is about war, crime, death, political controversies, economic problems, devastating natural disasters, and other tragedies and problems. In general, those kinds of things are bigger news than births and marriages and personal accomplishments of individual people. It’s refreshing and reassuring to see that sometimes, it is possible for good news to be major news. It’s important that, in between being sad about the problems of this world and being upset about the controversies in this world, we can also be happy about the highlights of the lives of famous people. Sharing enthusiasm for these kinds of things draws people together in the same way that political campaigns pull people apart. The fact that Kate and William are likable public figures (and that they make a really cute couple) only adds to the appeal of the news stories that involve them.
It’s pretty clear that Prince George is going to permanently remain in the public eye and on our facebook news feeds. Once the excitement of his birth passes, he won’t be as important to the media as he is now, but we’re still going to be hearing about his first steps and his first words and every childhood landmark that he passes. And although I’m probably not going to be actively seeking out that information, I’ll be interested to see it when other people choose to talk about it on the internet.