Ever since Kate Middleton got pregnant, she and Prince William have been making a big deal about how succession laws were to be changed so that the firstborn of either sex would become the titular head of state. I find it highly suspicious that this announcement was made right about when a normal parent would know for certain the sex of the baby. The claim that they “didn’t want to know” whether it was a boy or girl strike me as disingenuous. All parents want to know. Some of them elect not to, but to me that says they really do have a preference, and don’t want to be disappointed. If you really don’t care about whether the baby’s a boy or girl, might as well learn early so you can decide on a name.
So it came as little surprise to me that Middleton has given birth to a son. I think she and William knew full well the baby was a boy, so by saying it “didn’t matter” and a girl could be the heir to the throne, they were playing to their biggest fans – women – while knowing that the conservatives in the aristocracy would feel relieved when the baby came out a boy. On the other hand, maybe Kate, like your typical European, doesn’t want a big family, and figured she’d stop at one or two whether or not she had any sons.
Either way, the hoopla over changing royal succession doesn’t matter much at all, because the royal family has become little more than a tourist attraction that appeals mainly to old ladies.
And finally, if they can throw out centuries of tradition on a whim, who’s to say that the next king or queen won’t change the rules yet again? The practice of designating the eldest son as a successor was a measure to promote stability, in contrast to the brutal internecine wars that broke out every time a prolific Muslim Potentate died as in, for example, the Ottoman Sultanate of Women period.