|The company aboard HMS Kent mark the royal birth. Credit: MoD|
There is a certain something about our Royal Family, a mystique, a je ne sais quoi. I suspect that much of the Family's current popularity is a result of example shown by the Queen who has served the country so steadfastly for 60 years. Prince Philip has done his bit as well. But this young couple, William and Kate, have really captured people's hearts. Perhaps it stems from the late Diana, Princess of Wales, the Duke's mother. The mass hysteria exhibited after her death has, I suggest, never before been seen in England - and never since. So many people watched as the young Prince William walked in the funeral possession, many was the woman who so wanted to mother him. Some of his mother's charisma can been seen in William and he seems to instinctively gel with "ordinary" people.
As for Kate, well, she is the quintessential girl next door. It helps that she is good-looking and elegant, but, despite having been educated at Marlborough and having parents who own a house worth seven figures in 18 acres of grounds, she is down-to-earth and among her ancestors not so very far back are coal miners and navvies. Ordinary people feel comfortable in her presence; she is "one of us". But Kate is a fairy tale come to life: a village girl who married a prince. Her background helps, as do the facts that she asked for no servants in the Welsh farmhouse she and William have been living in and she has been seen doing her shopping in the local supermarket. And William is known to like a drink in the village pub when he and Kate are staying with her parents.
On the other hand, British people don't want "cycling Royals" like there are in, say, the Netherlands. We want our Royals to approachable but distant, we want them to have the common touch but to be special as well. William and Kate have that in spades, which goes some way to explaining how so many British people regard her as "our" Kate and have taken such an interest in her baby. Some of that feeling must have rubbed off on the rest of the world.
For many people, the fairy tale continues.
It occurs to me that when the new Prince reaches my age, the Second World War will be as far back in history fo him as are the Crimean War and the American Civil War for me. Now there's a thought.