The Half-Blood Prince

Britain welcomes an heir, born to a future King and (gasp!) a commoner

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JOHN STILLWELL / PA WIRE / EPA

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On the other hand, the new commoner King disrupts the case for royalty too. The fact of his lineage cuts straight through to the unreason that props up the monarchy. For blood--lineage--is what makes royalty. It creates a gap between them and us that is, in theory, unbridgeable. All the trades in Britain, from bootmakers to distillers, fall over one another to receive the royal purveyor's endorsement, precisely because it imparts an otherworldly quality. By its nature, or supernature, royalty gets credit for whatever is good and evades blame for whatever is bad. Two centuries ago, the journalist William Cobbett noticed that the Brits referred to the Royal Mint but the national debt.

What happens to this notion of goodness and purity when the common and the royal come together in a single person, in a Burke's Peerage version of the hypostatic union? Time, as the old editorial writer once said, will tell. With the birth of Prince George, the royalty is as popular as it's ever been. The antiroyalist cause is reeling. The Saxe-Coburg-Gothas have managed to survive even themselves--not to mention one royal who hawked diet food on TV and another who was photographed in a Vegas hotel suite playing strip billiards with friends.

Besides, the new commoner King can count on a realm where all such contradictions are resolved--common vs. royal, blue blood vs. red. I heard it from a CNN anchor during the interminable coverage of Kate's interminable labor.

"We're all anxiously awaiting word of"--and here the anchor reached for the word that confers the highest status of all, far beyond mere Defender of the Faith--"the world's newest celebrity."

Ferguson is a senior editor at the Weekly Standard

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