As Kate Middleton's due date approaches, we take a look at what it will mean for Britain if she gives birth to a girl, who will one day be Queen.
With Kate Middleton due to give birth in a matter of weeks, we’ve been thinking about what it will mean for the UK if the royal baby is a girl. The 2013 Succession to the Crown Act means that, for the first time, a girl will automatically become heir to the throne, even if a younger brother follows her. Talk about girl power. Here, royal expert Phil Dampier, author of ‘What’s in the Queen’s Handbag: And Other Royal Secrets’, helps us decode what this will mean for Britain.
1. ‘In the past, female babies weren’t automatically princesses from birth,’ explains Phil. This all changed when the Succession to the Crown Act came into effect in April, though. Boys will no longer precede their older sisters in the line of succession and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s baby will become monarch regardless of its sex. The birth of a girl will therefore be a seminal moment in the fight for female equality and we can only hope that this will have a ripple effect on other aspects of life in the UK, with more women gaining top positions across government and industry.
2. Kate has become a style icon, with women across the country clamouring to get hold of anything she buys. In April, a spotted Topshop dress that she wore sold out within hours and it was reported last year that ‘the Kate Effect’ is worth £1 billion to the UK fashion industry. It’s likely that a royal baby girl will induce a similar level of spending frenzy. Great news for our economy. ‘Anything that Kate wears flies off the shelves and fashion industry experts seem to think she’s given the industry a boost. I would imagine we’ll see the same thing with a baby girl,’ says Phil. We’ve all witnessed the fascination that surrounds Suri Cruise’s fashion choices so here’s hoping for the arrival of a mini-me Kate.
3. One of the groups most affected by the birth of a princess will be the aristocracy. ‘It will be a game changer,’ says Phil. Currently, women cannot inherit family titles and estates will occasionally be transferred to remote cousins when no sons are born, as we saw in Downton Abbey. It will become more difficult to defend this sexual injustice if a female heir to the throne is born, though. There have already been moves by female aristocrats to gain parity between the sexes. The Equality (Titles) Bill, which makes provision for the succession of female heirs to hereditary titles, is scheduled to have a second reading in Parliament, so a huge change to hundreds of years of tradition could well be on the cards.
4. It’s important to note that public interest and celebration will still be huge if the royal baby is a boy. Wills and Kate will almost definitely have more children, and the so-called “spare” child is always the subject of intense scrutiny and interest anyway. ‘Look at Harry,’ says Phil. ‘He’s in some ways a bigger star than William and Kate overseas.’ So, even if William and Kate don’t have a girl right away, we can all still look forward to the birth of a princess, who may well go on to outshine her older brother.
5. Finally, we should remember that Charles and William remain first and second in line to throne, and the royal baby, whatever its sex, is unlikely to become King or Queen for another 50 years. ‘If this baby lives to be 87, it will actually become the first monarch of the 22nd century,’ notes Phil. So, while it’s exciting to speculate about the sex of the royal baby and wonder what the birth of a girl will mean for Britain, we’ll actually be waiting a long while before we get our next Queen.