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Victoria Arbiter

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Critics Miss Irony in Royal Baby Comment

Posted: 07/26/2013 5:15 pm

To address the articles on the CNN clip in which I commented -- with deliberate irony -- how "brilliant a royal Kate is" [for having a boy], perhaps I should share the historical context that some appear to have missed. For centuries, the British Monarchy has been a man's world, where many a royal wife suffered at the hands of her husband for not producing a male heir. Even Diana expressed her relief at having delivered a son first.

Modern medicine tells us that it is the male that determines gender, but try telling that to Henry VIII, who believed, wholeheartedly, that it was his wife's duty to produce a son. In his ignorance, he would have considered Kate a perfect royal bride for the mere fact that she delivered a healthy boy, first time around. After all, his first two wives, Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn were tossed aside and beheaded respectively for not having a boy. Even Henry's third wife, Jane Seymour, who did deliver a son, died within days due to complications from childbirth.

There have been 34 kings and only six queens over the course of the monarchy's thousand-year history. It's easy to see the high value that was placed on a baby boy, and in turn, the mother that delivered him.

Thankfully times have changed since Henry's day... and so, too, have the laws of succession. The British Parliament recently voted to allow a female child to succeed to the throne, regardless of any younger born brothers.

I have repeatedly championed the changes in the laws to succession, and have stated in numerous segments across all media platforms my desire for William and Kate to have had a girl, largely due to the historical significance and social progress that it would represent.

It cannot be argued that some of the most enlightened times in British history have occurred during periods of queenship. Elizabeth I led the country through the "Golden Age." Victoria and Elizabeth II -- the longest reigning British Monarchs -- both made their mark with perhaps the most illustrious and progressive legacies of all.

Elizabeth II has spent her reign continuously evolving and adapting. As a result of her forward thinking, this was the first time in royal history that the gender of William and Kate's baby didn't matter... and yet what did she have? A boy.

A commoner by birth, Kate is the first royal bride to hold a university degree. She lived with her husband prior to marriage, and walked out of the hospital holding her son, proudly showing her "baby tummy" before a global audience -- unheard of in days of old. Were Anne Boleyn alive today, she would have thought Kate quite "brilliant." And therein, my friends, lies my point.

As a Brit who has lived in the U.S. for almost 20 years, my ingrained sense of irony was clearly lost on some who have chosen to interpret it as a slur on the rights of women. Nothing could be further from the truth, to which countless other comments I have made on CNN will clearly attest.

 
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