Opinion

What's in a Royal Baby Name?

William and Kate should have kept their kid genderless as long as possible.

By Steve Burgess 22 Jul 2013 | TheTyee.ca

If writer Steve Burgess had a genderless baby, he would name it WiFi.

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'If it's a boy, darling, what do you think of calling him Hammertime?'

After a long wait, there is jubilation at Buckingham Palace. "One's vacation can finally begin," Her Majesty no doubt said.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are now proud parents of an eight pound, six ounce baby boy they have named "Hammertime." (This last revelation has not actually been confirmed, but as I have a large wager riding on it at great odds, I am attempting to press the issue). Kate Middleton's labour was not particularly prolonged, mercifully minimizing her exposure to green jello and hospital roommates cranking up Coronation Street re-runs.

The baby is a Cancer, apparently missing Leo by about half an hour. That may or may not be very important, depending on how the universe actually works. If you're a believer in the Zodiac and wonder what kind of monarch the future king might be, consider this: In years to come, when the royal heir opens the newspaper and reads the "If July 22 is Your Birthday" horoscope, he will be reading a personality description that also applies to former GOP presidential candidate Bob Dole.

The gender of the new overlord is something of a surprise. It was widely reported that Middleton had inadvertently revealed to a well-wisher that the child would be a girl. British lawmakers must feel pretty foolish about that new law mandating only females can inherit the British throne. (I think that's what I read, but maybe you should Google it.)

But the truth is that no matter what gender the tyrant-in-waiting proved to be, some people were going to be disappointed. You have king supporters who would like to see a return to Henry VIII-style gender relations, as well as Richard the Lionheart fans who are always hankering for a new Crusade, possibly against Muslims, or the European Union, or the Manchester City football club. On the other side are those who use the historical record to suggest any monarch not named Elizabeth isn't worth shit.

The Royal 'It'

Keeping all of the peasants happy is never easy, as Charles I could have told you back when his head was still attached. But the royals would have been well advised to follow a recent Canadian example. Kathy Witterick and David Stocker of Toronto have taken an approach that could have worked wonders for Will and Kate.

On New Year's Day 2011, Witterick and Stocker celebrated the arrival of Storm. Storm was a baby, that much was certain. Beyond that, the couple did not wish to say. In a message to friends they said their decision not announce Storm's gender was "a tribute to freedom and choice in place of limitation, a stand up to what the world could become in Storm’s lifetime (a more progressive place? ...)"

The response to the genderless baby was not unlike the response to the royal version. The family was swamped with media attention, including interview requests from the likes of CNN's Anderson Cooper and the Oprah Winfrey Network. Not all of the attention was positive. Nor is the genderless approach taken with Storm right for everyone. (For example, meteorologists fond of titles like Katrina and Isaac would surely balk at naming a weather system Tropical Storm Storm). But Witterick and Stocker say they've received plenty of community support. As for young Storm, he/she is growing up healthy and unspecifically happy. Couldn't Buckingham Palace have taken note?

A genderless monarch would probably result in a surge of unisex bathrooms and would surely be a boon to the royal memorabilia market -- a touch of mystery would open up whole new categories of knick-knack. History students would be thrilled to get full marks for vague answers. Good or bad, the rule of Robin I or Brady the Inclusive would be a time of equality with praise or blame apportioned without regard to gender politics. Bookies could make a killing taking bets on the number of dresses to be worn at the royal wedding.

It would simply take a quick rewrite of the British anthem:

God save our Monarch great;
Long live our Head of State;
Our potentate.

We don't care what it is;
Richard, or Ed, or Liz;
King or Queen, hers or his;
It's all show biz.

Too late now, I guess. No skin off my nose. Once my bookie pays off, I'll be celebrating the arrival of the future King Hammertime in Vegas.  [Tyee]

Read more: Politics

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