The most celebrated event of the past week was also an occasion for Russian media to contemplate the role of the monarchy in modern life.
Britain's Prince William and his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge appear with their baby son, outside the Lindo Wing of St Mary's Hospital, in central London July 23, 2013. Photo: Reuters
The birth of the «little Prince» George Alexander Louis stole headines around the world last week. Not just in the West, but also in Russia, where the Russian audience was eager to see the newest heir to the British throne. Because the birth of a British royal was safely non-ideological, coverage was remarkably similar in both the Western and Russian media.
The articles about Prince William and Kate Middleton’s firstborn can be divided into three groups: those expressing admiration and savoring the tiniest details; theose who were already weary of the universal hysteria and buzz about the birth; and those who preferred to reflect on the role of the monarchy in the modern world.
The third group is the most interesting: the Western media argued that the royal family is a kind of brand, while the Russian media talked about national identity and compared the events in Britain with events happening at home.
The New York Times dwells on Kate Middleton’s attire in such minute detail as if photography has not yet been invented: “Duchess of Cambridge (nee Kate Middleton) stepped out of St. Mary’s Hospital in cornflower crepe de Chine sprinkled with the playful pattern. The above-the-knee dress, featuring cap sleeves and a gently gathered empire waist, was a custom creation by Jenny Packham”.
These details are a sign that not only ordinary people but also most journalists cannot help admiring the royal family.
Many British media outlets describe with pride the interest the event attracted throughout the world, including in other periodicals. They cite others’ headlines and others’ articles.
“It would be inaccurate, too, to portray the birth as merely a parochial concern. The front page of France's Le Matin splashed with "C'est Un Garçon!" and most of the world's media gave the news prominent billing, including heavyweights such as the New York Times, which called it "a spectacle unlike any other in the modern media age". One poll showed there was greater fascination about the baby in India than in the UK,” writes The Observer.
In the writer’s opinion, the royal family is no longer just British. "We've got a situation now where the British royal family are becoming the global royal family,” he writes.
The Daily Telegraph considers the birth of an heir a global event.
“Half the world was waiting. Hundreds of reporters were gathered in the street, sending live pictures of the hospital to millions of people across the planet. The people of Australia, New Zealand and Canada were watching, of course. There was interest in the birth of a future head of state, from Belize to Tuvalu,” the article notes.
While the impressions and assessments are similar, some seek an original approach, sometimes corresponding to the character of the newspaper. The Financial Times calculates the economic effect of the birth of the heir to the throne, which is expected to boost the sales of British goods and the country’s GDP.
“As the distribution sector contributes 7 percent of national output, the increased business might boost GDP by 0.02 per cent, with an equal and negative effect in the following quarter. If all the spending was additional and all was spent on British goods and services, GDP would rise at most by 0.06 per cent in a quarter. However you look at it, even if the sign is positive, the scale is puny,” the paper writes.
After scrupulous calculations, the paper draws the predictable conclusion that the joyous event would not, in itself, deliver economic recovery: “By all accounts, the new prince is a big and beautiful baby boy. But we shouldn’t look to him for economic recovery”.
In America, The Huffington Post muses on the secret of the success and popularity of the British monarchy, comparing it to a trademark.
”This is the Royal Family, a brand at a bright and shiny moment in its history. There have certainly been other moments before but, in recent memory, this was certainly a high point. With refreshed imagery and contemporary messaging, this is a brand set for continued political and social power,” the Internet columnist writes.
In his opinion, the members of the royal family maintain their popularity and influence with a skill that deserves emulation. The author lists the lessons to be learned from them: Communicate with Symbolism. Make an Emotional Connection. Be Real.
Many Russian media chose as their theme not the actual birth of the future head of state but the universal exhilaration about the fact. These articles bristle with words like “admiration” and “hysteria.”
“The country has been swept by veritable hysteria. Ordinary British people were ready to spend the night in the street under the clinic’s windows to be at the right time in the right place,” notes Channel 1.
Reflecting on the role of the monarchy in the modern world
Moskovsky Komsomolets injects a note of irony into its description of the general excitement: “From the day of her wedding to Prince William, Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, has been unable to escape the public eye. First the news that she had toxicosis and was in hospital was reported from the British seas to the taiga and the steppes. Then the whole world watched the progress of her pregnancy with bated breath, almost counting the days until the birth.” The author sympathizes with Kate Middleton, who found herself at the focus of world attention at such a time.
“It may be pleasant to be the darling of the subjects”, the article goes. “But all the brouhaha is really inappropriate. How should a woman about to give birth feel when the whole world is glued to the television and computer screens asking, “When? It can’t come too soon.”
Izvestia, in an article titled “The Little Prince,” compares Britain and Russia and writes wistfully about the monarchy that unites the country.
“We, in this country, simply do not have ordinary life events that bring shared joy. Yet it would be such a relief to discuss the main intrigue that is about Who? Not who gains the upper hand over whom and how, but simply who is it, a boy or a girl? …The ancient peaceful news trumps anything,” the author believes.
In her opinion, the charm of the monarchy – an old, decorative and grand 19th century monarchy -- is that it brings the whole cycle of being into the public domain.
“Everything connected with family, women, children, matrimony, intimacy and daily life becomes part of civil life. And this is known to greatly cement a country.”
Rossiiskaya Gazeta reflects on the role of the monarchy in the modern world.
“The world may be in turmoil, with wars, revolutions, economic crises, political upheavals, but when something happens in royal houses, attention switches to them. The magnetic force of European monarchies is amazing,” the paper writes.
The observer thinks that the attraction of the monarchy is not just the beautiful life and glamor steeped in history, combining the exalted and the mundane.
“There is also another explanation. The world is changing so radically and so rapidly that people everywhere, especially in Old Europe, are losing the ground under their feet, the familiar habitat and way of life,” the article writes. “The monarchy – for all its quaint and antiquated customs – embodies the national identity much more convincingly than much that is modern and relevant.”