Stephanie Smith: Already primogeniture seems pre-historic

It’s a boy! That’s lovely. Wonderful news. Of course it is. But maybe, just a tiny bit, well... disappointing?

Because, if the Royal baby had been a girl, then history good and proper would have been made this week. For the first time, a first-born daughter would have been – and, crucially, would remain – heir to the throne, and future head of Commonwealth realms, no matter how many brothers came after her.

But the Royal baby is a boy. In practice, it seems there was no need for the scrapping, announced in 2011, of the centuries-old rule of primogeniture, allowing male children to leap-frog their elder sisters to become top dog.

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In practice, yes. But it’s the theory that’s important here.

Growing up as the eldest of four assorted children, I was keenly aware of the rule of primogeniture, not least because it was frequently discussed in Sunday lunch banter. As he sat head of table, my dad loved to point out that, if we were royal, I would have to bow down to my two silly little brothers. I tried to laugh, but I burned at the potential injustice, and worried about my place in our family and the world. So have many other little girls. As mothers, we have been questioned about primogeniture by our own children, and found ourselves trying to laugh it off, so as not to unseat our daughters, or inflate our sons. This “banter” went on in households across the land, until two years ago. Now Royal primogeniture is dead and put to rest. Already it seems ridiculous, pre-historic, that such inexplicable sex discrimination was allowed to exist until so recently, even though three of our most successful monarchs – Elizabeth I, Victoria and our Queen – were women.

If the Royal baby had been a girl, a positive message of encouragement and equality would have been sent across the world, reaching lands where girls are not even allowed an education. But it was not to be.

Many expectant parents have two babies in their head, before they know the sex. They imagine their boy, see his clever, lop-sided smile in their dreams. They do the same with their potential girl – she’ll be bright and funny, the best of us both. Unless it’s twins, you can’t have both. Some new parents will admit to a slight wistfulness for the child they did not have.

Then the baby is born, hopefully healthy, and it doesn’t matter. It’s a miracle – a baby.

And so it is with Baby Cambridge. It’s a boy and that is wonderful, a real cause for celebration. So, too, is the fact that he is the first Royal heir born after the historic scrapping of primogeniture and if, in time, he has a first-born daughter, she will be Queen.

Twitter: @yorkshirefashQ