Royal Baby 101: A lesson in nobility

Interview and photo by Dan Landau

As the world anxiously awaits the arrival of Prince William and Catherine (Kate), Duchess of Cambridge's child, Dr. Nicholas David James Baldwin, Dean of Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Wroxton College in England, shares some interesting tidbits about the Royal Baby and the British monarchy. 

FDU: Boy or girl, what are the ramifications of the Royal Baby’s gender?
NDJB: Gender makes no difference now. Parliament very recently changed the law to ensure that, boy or girl, they will be heir to the throne. 

FDU: What’s in a name? What dictates name choice for the royal family?
NDJB: It’s very unlikely that they would honor anyone by naming their baby after them. 

Chances are that it will be a traditional royal name, such as Elizabeth, Ann or Victoria if the baby is a girl and William, James, Charles, George or Edward if it is a boy, but we shall have to see. 

Whatever the name William and Kate give their child, the individual does not have to stick with the same name when they come to the throne — George VI was born as Albert (Frederick Arthur George) and was known as Bertie, but he took the name George when he became King. (Editor's note: George VI was the king in the film "The King's Speech.")

FDU: The British Monarchy no longer rules the country in an official capacity — why then does Britain care so much about the royal family? 
NDJB: The Monarchy provides an excellent example of the many paradoxes, which abound in the British political system. Whatever else may be altered, the Monarchy still appeals to many people as an unchanging and reassuring national symbol. Such seemingly permanent and unchanging institutions can make it easier for people to accept radical change in other areas of their lives. The Monarchy plays an important part in preserving the stability of British society and it contributes significantly to the sense of underlying national unity, which helps to hold the British people together.

The Monarchy still holds the supreme position at the apex of British society, yet it does so by no longer wielding real political power. The strength of the Monarchy is in its weakness — the political weakness of the Monarchy ensures that the institution of the Monarch is symbolically strong. 

Today, the Monarchy serves as a powerful symbol of continuity, tradition and community;, which is particularly valuable to the nation in difficult or troubled times. The royal family as a whole makes a valuable contribution to the underlying cohesion and morale of people in the United Kingdom.

Editor's note: For more on Dean Baldwin, check out this interview from earlier this year where he talks about teaching at Wroxton College. 

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