Online Poll: The royal baby is a joyful event

This week’s Compass poll asked readers how they felt about the 22 July arrival of Prince George, son of Kate and William, and if that were reason to celebrate.

An overwhelming majority believed it was good news, although the sentiment was far from unanimous. Garnering 564 votes, the poll revealed some cynicism, some dissent and a sharp word for the pollsters.

“Yes. It’s a joyful event,” drew 321 votes, a 56.9 per cent response, nearly three-fifths of the total. No one seemed to think their support worthy of a comment, however, leaving most of the talking to the naysayers and those persuaded by “other”.

Still, with a near-60 per cent tally, Compass voters clearly were touched by the long-awaited birth, which received saturation coverage by UK media, and appeared to ensure continuity of the House of Windsor – founded in 1917 when the name was officially adopted by a proclamation of the newborn’s namesake, King George V.

Maybe it was the saturation coverage that alienated 190 readers, 33.7 per cent of voters, who thought: “No. Ho hum… people have babies all the time,” according the birth no particular significance.

The indication seemed to be that the event was far away, the local impact negligible and the boost only to the British upper classes.

“Yawn”, came the top response, followed quickly by “Who cares?”, itself followed by the observation that “The royals are a tourist attraction. Nothing more.”

Others, however, articulated a sense of disproportion and a frustrated yearning for fairer politics. “It’s time we had a democratically elected head of the Commonwealth,” one voter wrote, clearly thinking about the royal lineage and the likely fortunes of the newest royal, “chosen for their abilities not just because they were born into one particular family”.

Electing the head of the Commonwealth of Nations is a tall order, however. An organisation of 54 states, mostly former territories of the British Empire, the group was founded in London in 1949 and today boasts a population of 2.2 billion. Queen Elizabeth II, great grandmother to George, has been the sole, symbolic head of the group since its creation.

“Always great news for a newborn to enter this world, but if only for 10 seconds,” another voter wrote, mindful, however, of social disparities. “If the world could give that same attention to the less-fortunate babies born every day in such harsh conditions for one second. That is why the example was set when baby Jesus was born in a stable 2,500 years ago.”

A final comment struck a cynical note, although tempered by political tolerance: “I say ‘ho hum’, but I love babies, so good for them,” the voter wrote.

A distant third place was assumed by those more politically minded, although the judgment came without comment – and may have struck a lighter chord.

“It only reminds Cayman of its colonial oppression,” opined 37 voters, a small 6.6 per cent of the total, clearly unmoved by the UK celebrations and unpersuaded of any significance for George Town – and its apt name in this instance. Fourth ranking went to “other”, drawing 14 votes, 2.5 per cent of the total, but always the source of the most provocative comments.

“Roughly 300,000 other babies also arrived on that same date. Is that good news? I think so. No one baby is more important than the other,” opined one respondent, offering perspective on the event, a perspective fleshed out by a second response: “I’m always happy for the mother when she has a healthy baby and it’s good news for the parents. But for us in Cayman, it was just another day. I’m pretty sure Prince William and Kate don’t even know we exist.”

One commentator acknowledged the place and the public view of the royal family’s role in British life, concluding that it is largely irrelevant to the people of Cayman.

“Considering the royal family are only figureheads in the British government and they really do little besides reside in the palace, I do not see the need for such celebrations … Unless, of course, they named it something along the lines of South-East, or crabapple.”

While, in the event, the child’s name turned out to be neither of those, muted celebrations would likely be in order. The sentiment was rounded out by a one-liner pointing to an unfortunate truth, especially for those who recall the UK’s silence pursuant to 2004’s devastating Hurricane Ivan.

“It has nothing to do with us here, as no help come from them when required,” the poll respondent wrote.

Other “other” comments ranged from “I don’t know” to “I don’t care” to “no opinion” to a barb – presumably in jest – about evil incarnate.

Pollsters did not escape the cynicism either, as one reader waxed impatient with the entire exercise: “Is this is the best you can do with a poll question? Really?”

The quick answer is another question: “Yes; Do we not sometimes have room for matters of less gravity?”

Finally, ranking as almost a throwaway option, came the idea that the royal birth offered little more than a chance to “make book” on the child’s name. Drawing only two votes, 0.3 per cent of the total, and without any comment, the option was actually vitiated within two days of the delivery. Thank you for your votes, however.

Next week’s poll question
Governor Taylor left on Wednesday night. Is it significant?
No, it makes little difference to the people of Cayman
Yes, he was effective, aiding the community
We look forward to fiscal discipline under his replacement
By Christmas, no one will remember him

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