IN THE past, Archbishops of Canterbury were expected to attend
the birth of a future sovereign. On this occasion, Archbishop Welby
blessed the new royal heir not at the Lindo Wing of St Mary's
Hospital, but from a respectful distance.
"I am delighted to congratulate the Duke and Duchess of
Cambridge on the arrival of their baby boy," he said on Monday
evening. "Along with millions here and around the world, I share in
their joy at this special time. May God bless this family with
love, health and happiness in their shared life ahead."
Earlier that day, he concluded a speech at Featherstone High
School, Southall, with the suggestion that the audience "remember
the Royal Duchess of Cambridge, who, in this heat, has gone into
The new Prince, named George Alexander Louis,
was born at 4.24 p.m., weighing 8 lb 6 oz. Members of the
Church Times staff were outside Buckingham Palace when the
details of the birth were mounted on an easel that evening. Dotted
among the various foreign correspondents, people could be seen
opening bottles of champagne and toasting the infant Prince's
As the night drew on, those still outside the palace got a
soaking as the violent thunderstorm which followed the day's heat
broke over the capital.
On Tuesday, Royal Salutes were fired in Green Park and at the
Tower of London; and peals to celebrate the birth - of Cambridge
Surprise Royal, fittingly - were rung on the bells of Westminster
Abbey, and Cambridge Major on the Diamond Jubilee bells, now at St
That evening, the Duke and Duchess emerged from St Mary's to
introduce their son to the assembled crowds, including media from
around the world. The Duke said that his son had "a good pair of
lungs on him", had "fortunately" inherited his mother's looks, and
had "way more" hair than him ("Thank God").
The Duchess said: "It's very emotional, it's such a special
time. I think any parent will know what this feeling feels
Among those who accompanied the Duchess to the hospital was her
private secretary, Rebecca Deacon, the daughter of the Vicar of St
John the Evangelist, Studley, the Revd Selina Deacon.
On Tuesday in the House of Lords, the Bishop of Birmingham, the
Rt Revd David Urquhart, said that the royal birth, in addition to
"sustained sunshine, British victories at Wimbledon and the Tour de
France, and an upsurge in that traditional English game of cricket"
had left the country "basking in well-being.
"In all this warmth, we remem-ber today that a new stage has
begun for a young family. The infant has no idea what symbolic
authority may one day be his; and so meanwhile, we pray that their
Royal Highnesses will be guided and sustained as they take up the
joys and challenges of parenthood."
Baroness Royall of Blaisdon stated that, although the child was
a boy, it was still "right" that the Succession to the Crown Act
2013 had passed earlier in the year (News, 27 April). The Act
abolished male primogeniture and allows members of the Royal Family
to marry Roman Catholics without forfeiting their right of
Congratulations poured in from around the world. The Australian
Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, said that Australians wished "the royal
bub all the best", while the Board of Deputies of British Jews
issued a "hearty mazel tov".
Republicans were, for the most part, respectful in their
response. Graham Smith, chief executive of the Republic campaign
group, said: "The arrival of a new baby is always a cause for
celebration - Kate and William will be thrilled. But we should
remember that their son hasn't chosen to be royal. . . This is an
opportunity for the rest of us to consider whether this circus is
the best way to run things."
The christening of the Prince is likely to take place in the
autumn in the Music Room at Buckingham Palace, administered by the
Archbishop of Canterbury.
In an article for the Mail on Sunday earlier this
month, Archbishop Welby described the "sheer hope" brought by
babies. Quoting Deuteronomy - "The eternal God is your refuge, and
underneath are the everlasting arms" - he concluded: "Here is an
image for a newborn, loved like a prince or princess, held in the
arms of God, secure whatever happens."
too much attention been given to the royal baby?