This past week has been dominated by news stories that swing back to ancient times. A sort of back to the future game, the headlines cast by Senator Yerima of Nigeria and the Royal Baby wait contain stories that reprise centuries old tradition and customs. For Senator Yerima, a former Governor of Zamfara state of Nigeria, husband to a teenage wife (he married her at thirteen), his legislative duties brought him opprobrium when he pushed through amendments that effectively lowered the age of marriage to below 18, effectively threatening to legalize medieval practices. For Prince William and the British Monarchy, the birth of a son has further strengthened the royal house of Windsor, effectively securing for the next two generations a bloodline that is over a thousand years old – stretching unbroken to William the Conqueror.
The wait and eventual delivery of the royal son engulfed the whole world in euphoria and unadulterated glee. The event, ultimately a political story, played out like entertainment, eclipsing all that Hollywood can offer. True glitz and star dust, the paparazzi and the proletariat were engaged with the royal circus so much that when the Prince of Cambridge arrived the news was heralded on ticker tape in Times Square and in Sydney and in Jamaica, where he will be King one day, and in scores of countries across the globe.
William the Conqueror, the Duke of Normandy (France) and a descendant of Vikings, was crowned King of England in 1066 in London. Since then all Sovereigns of England have been able to trace their lineage to the French Duke, who, although he was King, did not live in England, but ruled from Normandy and ceded England to his second son at his death as his eldest had to inherit the Duchy of Normandy which was a more prestigious title back then. The British Monarchy thus is the oldest and most prestigious in the world today with the current House of Windsor led by Queen Elizabeth II highly revered and respected. The thousand year monarchy has managed to modernise while maintaining age long traditions and the birth of the royal baby was unique as the baby was destined to be sovereign no matter the gender.
British royal family news is keenly followed by monarchists and anti-monarchists. Be it births, deaths, weddings, divorces or Prince Harry parting naked in a Las Vegas hotel room, the unadulterated, unscripted, real life drama from Buckingham Palace is incomparable to the best reality show ever anywhere. It shows up the best and not-so-best parts of the human being. At the end of the day, the royals are people: people living in a ‘giant fish bowl.’
The yet to be named heir, styled Prince of Cambridge, is third in succession having displaced his uncle Harry. Expected to have a long name (his father is William Arthur Phillip Louis), he is behind his father to the thrones of sixteen independent sovereign states known as the Commonwealth realms: the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, Barbados, The Bahamas, Grenada, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Belize, Antigua and Barbuda, and Saint Kitts and Nevis.
Since his father is still only 30, and Grandpa Charles, the Prince of Wales, has still got to be King, added to the healthy longevity genes of the royals (Queen Victoria, Queen Elizabeth, Prince Phillip and Queen Elizabeth II), he will certainly accede to the throne when most of you reading this blog are dead and gone. But whether we are here or not, and whether the royal baby will be King of a big Commonwealth or just England only as some have predicted, at least the town crier will still be proclaiming, announcing the heralds of William the Conqueror’s descendants.