There is much to be said about the royal family, and all the newspaper reporters and gossip columnists the world over certainly say as much as their libel laws allow. This past week, the tabloid columnists, TV anchors (known as presenters in England), and global bloggers were delighted to announce that Duchess Kate and Prince William were expecting a third child. Interestingly, here in the States, rather than just reporting the impending birth in an objective and respectful way, the news items all crowed that Kate was suffering from horrible morning sickness, was ill and retching, and was feeling quite awful on a daily basis. Wow! Welcome to the world, new Royal Baby #3.
The new prince or princess will be joining big brother George (oh, my God, I just saw how 1984/George Orwell that sounds) and middle sister Charlotte. In addition to the state duties that will be expected of the new child, there will also be mandatory photo sessions where he or she will have to smile and think of England. This isn’t a figurative expression for the monarchs; this is their everyday life and truth.
Along the way, the new baby will be festooned with gifts galore: books, hand-knit sweaters (jumpers in Britain), shiny mylar balloons, bouquets of flower, and bears. Yes, there will be tons of bears. If, indeed, Kate and Will have kept all the bears that they have been presented with since their marriage, they must be the number-one bear collectors in the world.
Children, grandmothers, shop owners, manufacturers, artists, and department stores have all personally bestowed bears upon the good-natured couple. And to their credit — especially Kate’s — when they receive one of the bears, they look positively overjoyed. Kate will clutch the bears in her hands or cuddle them in her arms when she receives a Teddy in a public setting. The duchess knows how to make the gift-giver feel special and that is quite a knack.
Merrythought, the British bear manufacturer that has been creating bears in England since 1930, has a personal connection to the royal family and all their scions. In addition to the collectible bears that they produce to commemorate majestic events — kingly and queenly engagements, marriages, monarchial anniversaries, births, births, and more births — they also have concocted plush pals that they have presented to the royals over the decades.
In 1952, the Merrythought artists designed a stuffed corgi toy and gave one to Queen Elizabeth, known for her deep affection for that dog breed. In 1982, they made a special hippo and shared it with Prince Charles, who at the time was anticipating the birth of son William.
That young lad — the baby who will one day be king — was born in June 1982, and Prince William has become a darling of the media since his first gurgle and grin. One of the charming things about him is that he actually went out and bought a Harrods teddy bear before his son, George, was born in 2013. The British magazines loved to showcase which bear he selected, and ran stories of his plush purchase.
I find that very sweet that he bought a bear for the soon-to-be-born baby. After all, he could just walk down any street in London and a throng of admirers would be hoisting teddy bears and bunnies and cuddly kittens (both toys and actual ones) in his direction. There is something very human and down-to-earth that the new father wanted to buy a traditional nursery gift for his own son rather than just passing it on from a “secondary party.”
Over the years the monarchs have all posed with the bears and assorted soft-art critters that they have received. Even before a future prince or princess is born, the well-wishers gather with their stuffed animals in hand. HELLO magazine, a large-circulation publication in the United Kingdom, set up camp outside the hospital with an oversized Henry, the official HELLO teddy bear waiting to herald the gender, time, birth weight, and other pertinent statistics about the royal infant. It’s an amazing feat when a seconds-old newborn can put a wobbly economy on more solid footing, and that is what the royal babies and their whole entourage family do: They smile and they do think of England.
I’ll be watching from afar and will be curious to see if there is a new sister or brother at Kensington Palace. I like the pageantry; I like the pomp and circumstance; and I truly like the immersion into the world of cuddly critters. The royal family does indeed live a lush and plush life!