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Royal baby belies problems of aging Windsors

Updated: 2015-05-04 10:29
By Agencies in London (China Daily)

Monarch succession points to elderly rulers for now

The birth of a princess on Saturday demonstrated the enduring strength of Britain's rulers, consolidating four generations of a family now more popular than ever, but cannot hide the weaknesses of an aging institution.

Queen Elizabeth II turned 89 just weeks ago but shows no sign of abdicating, even if she has stepped back a little from public duties in favor of her 66-year-old son and heir, Charles, the Prince of Wales.

The second child of Prince William and his wife, Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, is fourth in line to the throne after Charles, William, and William's firstborn, George - a strong dynasty that could continue for another century.

The still-unnamed baby girl made her first public appearance with her parents outside St. Mary's Hospital in London on Saturday evening.

The Duchess and the Duke of Cambridge appeared relaxed and were smiling. The baby girl was asleep.

The couple didn't say anything in front of the media. But earlier that afternoon, William said he was "very happy" at the arrival of his second child. The baby weighs about 3.7 kg.

The new princess will be the first to benefit from a new law ending the age-old bias favoring a male succession, meaning that she cannot be passed over in favor of any younger male siblings.

The legal change has helped bring the royals into the 21st century, but there is only a slim chance that she will ever wear the crown, in a family where the future is likely to be dominated by the older generation.

If the queen lives as long as her mother, who died when she was 101, Charles would be about 80 when he finally takes the throne - hardly the image of a young and vital monarchy.

"And if the Prince of Wales lives a long time, then William will also be quite elderly when he succeeds," said Bob Morris, a constitutional expert at University College London.

"Without some policy and application, then we are going to be stuck with elderly monarchs for quite a long time."

On Sept 9, the queen will eclipse Queen Victoria to become Britain's longest-reigning monarch.

Buckingham Palace has emphasized her longevity as a virtue, presenting her as a stabilizing influence and celebrating her Diamond Jubilee in lavish style in 2012.

There are few signs that she would consider quitting.

"I never rule out the idea of abdication, but I think it's unlikely", Morris said.

However, he said, the rise of Scottish nationalism, which threatens the future of the United Kingdom, will reinforce her desire to stay on.

Royal commentator Robert Jobson noted that Pope Benedict XVI and Spain's Juan Carlos both retired from what were previously thought to be lifetime roles.

"I don't know if the queen will continue until the day she dies. I'm sure it's her intention, but we are in uncharted territory," he said.

For now, the queen continues to reign as always, although her schedule and that of her 93-year-old husband, Prince Philip, have been slowly eased.

She will pay a state visit to Germany in June and attend a Commonwealth summit in Malta in November, but Charles and his sons are increasingly taking on her official duties.

AFP - Xinhua

 

 Royal baby belies problems of aging Windsors

Britain's Prince William and his wife, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, appear with their baby daughter outside the Lindo Wing of St Mary's Hospital in London on Saturday. The Duchess of Cambridge gave birth on Saturday to the girl, the couple's second child and the sister of 21-month-old Prince George. Suzanne Plunkett / Reuters

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