Few royals have arrived to more daunting expectations than the newborn Prince of Cambridge. Just being a boy will be the first hurdle for him, after months of frothy anticipation for the first daughter born with equal opportunity to rule. But the newborn prince has been an unqualified success in at least one way: in boosting the languishing British economy.
Never mind the hordes of international media and tourists the royal birth has drawn to London. British subjects, still in the grips of David Cameron’s unpopular austerity push, suddenly have an excuse to splurge — by some estimates, baby fever could boost retail sales by as much as $400 million by summer’s end. Commemorative T-shirts, plates, coins, and mugs are just the beginning. Three million bottles of celebratory champagne and sparkling wine are expected to be opened, according to the Nottingham-based Centre for Retail Research. Bookmakers raked it in Tuesday as they took bets on the baby’s name.
Beyond their economic implications, royal events sometimes reflect evolving social values. With the legalization of same-sex marriage last week, most of the British public won’t mind if the new prince grows up to be gay or bisexual — a whopping 83 percent polled on Monday said they’d be fine with that. It’s a new day in Britain, but the empire’s oldest institution is certainly flourishing.