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From George to George: An open letter to the new Prince

This letter was broadcast by George Pitcher on BBC Radio 4’s Sunday programme at 7.25am on 28.7.13. Listen again here

Dear George,

May I call you that? Or should it be George of Cambridge? The only other George of Cambridge I know is a pub and I doubt you’re named after that. They say you’re named after your great-great-grandfather George VI. But I bet the real reason is that you can’t abbreviate it – like Wills or Kate. Headline writers will use Geo, but you can’t say that – it’s easier to say the whole name George. Trust me, I know.

Which brings me to when you’re formally named – at your Baptism. That will be your first big public event. In a Church of England service, the vicar – and the Archbishop of Canterbury is really just a vicar – commands the parents to “Name this child”. We pretend this is part of the liturgy, but really it’s because we can’t remember the baby’s name, we do so many. I doubt the priest will forget your name, but one of the Royal Highnesses present – or Mummy and Daddy to you – will say George Alexander Louis. In my experience, sometimes parents add their surname, but we don’t need it for baptism because we only want your given names – and in your case you don’t really have a surname, so it could be awkward.

Anyway, then you’re baptised into the Church of England, of which one day you will be Supreme Governor. You will also be Protector of the Faith – the Faith into which you were baptised. Now, Grandpa Charles said something back in the last century – he said he wanted to be “Defender of Faith”, all faith, when he was King. Silly old Grandpa. I, for one, think his Mummy, your great-grandma, had it right when she said her Church of England, being what we call “established in law”, made it safe for people of all religions or no religion at all to live in peace in England. I hope you remember that.

Anyway, that’s only one part of your public life. And your public say they want you to have a normal upbringing. In other words they want you to be ordinary. Like Mummy. But here’s the catch – they will also want you to smile all the time, be handsome, never drink more than a half-pint of beer on a night out – oh, and be straight and have photogenic, well-behaved girlfriends. Even your Church of England doesn’t ask its bishops to do all that. Or any of it, come to think of it.

But that’s what your subjects want. They want you to be ordinary. And they want you to be a demi-god. An ordinary demi-god. Otherwise, I’m afraid it’s “George’s bachelor night of shame – is he fit for the throne?”

You’ll get used to our double-standards – the demand to be a celebrity and perfect at the same time. But, as I say, at least you have a solid, unchangeable name in George. It’s always served me well. I only wish I had the copyright – then I could charge you a royalty.

I remain, sir, your obedient servant,

George Pitcher

George Pitcher

George Pitcher

George Pitcher is a writer and talker, an academic specialising in the purposes of journalism and an Anglican priest. You can read his LSE blog here.

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