As someone who has read Tina Brown’s The Diana Chronicles more times than I care to admit, and who harbors a streak of deep and abiding corniness, will confess to being happy at the news that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are expecting their first child together. But it’s not just the Royals-watcher in me that’s curious to see how Kate Middleton’s pregnancy plays out. Here are three things I’m thinking of as the media frenzy commences:
1. How will her pregnancy affect the ongoing debate over British press laws? When Princess Diana was pregnant, Queen Elizabeth made a special appeal to the press to consider how they treated the Princess of Wales, given how badly she was suffering from morning sickness, an affliction that also appears to plague her daughter-in law. This time, Kate Middleton’s pregnancy comes in the middle of an event that could put even more pressure on British publications: the release of the Leveson Report into the phone hacking scandal that proposed a much more rigorous regulation scheme for the British press. How British tabloids pursue the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge could end up affecting public sentiment about the Leveson recommendations.
2. It’s crazy-retro to have your job be getting pregnant, but at least that recognizes that pregnancy is work: Usually, we’re uncomfortable discussing the extent to which being pregnant is hard work until it comes to giving birth: then, we call the process labor. Some informal rituals have sprung up to acknowledge the physical work that goes into carrying a child, like the idea of so-called push presents for a partner who’s given birth (the all-time best of those? The biker boots Tim Burton gave Helen Bonham Carter after the birth of their fourth child.). We’re comfortable with the idea that surrogates should be compensated (and we don’t treat them like insane throwbacks, in part because surrogacy isn’t usually a full-time job). But all of these conversations still shy away from the nine-plus months of work that happens before a woman goes into labor, and for state support for women whose pregnancies aren’t as high-profile affairs as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s. The United States is the only Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development member country that doesn’t mandate paid parental leave schemes for new parents. It may be insanely old-fashioned for a woman to have as her career goals having two children. But at least when she does, everyone recognizes that she should get totally comprehensive, affordable health care coverage.
3. Boys are no longer the prize: I wrote about this earlier today, but for the first time, a Royal pregnancy doesn’t have to produce a boy to be successful. If Kate has a girl, she gets to be Queen, period, without any worry that she’ll be leapfrogged by a younger brother. That’s awesome, and shockingly overdue.