Saturday 3 December 2016

Mind matters: Who would choose the life of a princess?

Patricia Casey

Published 12/05/2015 | 02:30

Princess Charlotte was born last weekend at St Mary's Hospital in Paddington
Princess Charlotte was born last weekend at St Mary's Hospital in Paddington

She was born with a silver spoon in her mouth, so to speak. She has received international acclaim already even though she is only one-week-old.

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She is on the front pages of all the national and international newspapers and she will be one of the most photographed babies in the world.

That narrative will be all the greater if she inherits the good looks of her father, the rich brown hair of her mother, and the glamour and exquisiteness of her grandmother. She should be stunning.

Her names already set her apart - Charlotte Elizabeth Diana all commemorate royalty.

The name Charlotte is a tribute to her grandfather Prince Charles, Elizabeth her great grandmother Queen Elizabeth 11 and Diana her lonely, tragic, beautiful grandmother. Some pedigree.

With these names, she will be defined and demarcated as no other baby has been in the first few days of life. Even the extraordinariness of Jesus' babyhood only came after his death.

Charlotte's splendour, destined for fame, was predetermined when her mother was carrying her. But because of this and, through no fault of her own, her life will be unlike that of any other little girl of her age in the world.

She of course isn't the only female child born into British royalty. Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson gave birth to two daughters; Princess Anne has a daughter; as do the Duke and Countess of Wessex.

But their role in the monarchy is fairly peripheral since they are famous mainly for wearing hats resembling pretzels, show-jumping and marrying rugby players.

The Wessex family are not even recognisable to most ordinary folks in Britain or Ireland.

Unlike Princess Charlotte, their fathers will not be monarchs and they are not likely to be over-shadowed by an older sibling who will, many years hence, ascent the throne.

There is even a slight possibility that someday Charlotte could become queen as she is now fourth in line.

Try as William and Kate may, to give her an ordinary upbringing, it will be utterly impossible.

Unlike Charles, whose father was cold and who bowed before his mother the Queen, Charlotte will certainly be blessed with a hands-on father and a very loving, adoring, down-to-earth mother.

But, protecting her from the public, from the paparazzi or from gossip mongers as she grows up, will be impossible.

Sadly she will never be able to play with her friends in a public park unless she is protected by bodyguards; she will not know the delights of a sleepover with classmates unless her guards keep watch outside their houses.

Her trips to McDonald's for McNuggett meals are likely to be curtailed by security protocol and as she gets older, her exchange with students in Spain to learn their language will be unfilled.

She will never work as a waitress in a breakfast bar in Manhattan while she is at university and inter-railing across Europe will be a definite no-no.

While Prince Harry didn't seem to care about the opinions of other regarding his louche behaviour, it is unlikely that Charlotte will be allowed such latitude.

Sarah Ferguson was considered too much of an embarrassment to be invited to the wedding of William and Kate.

And Princess Margaret's sad demise as she grew older is best remembered by the images of her in a wheelchair with a puffy face, eyes hidden under dark sunglasses and wrapped in a blanket.

Of course Margaret never found a place or purpose for herself once her older sister Elizabeth ascended the throne. Her marriage to glamour boy Lord Snowden ended in divorce after an affair with Roddy Llewellyn, 18 years her junior.

Even now similar analogies are being evoked - just as Margaret was the spare heir, will the same be true of little Charlotte?

All things being equal, Charlotte will not be Queen unless something unforeseen happens to her older brother George. So she must carve out a niche for herself that provides fulfilment, meaning, purpose and challenge.

When I was a child my mother always assured me that despite my humble origins I could achieve what I desired, if I worked for it and that I would be fulfilled.

I did, and I do not have any regrets about my career or the directions I have had the good fortune to actively choose in my life.

Isn't it interesting that a country girl from rural Ireland has more choice that a princess born of royalty?

I can't help but think of this little girl's future and hope that she has the good fortune that I have had. She will need it.

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