Skip to main content

'Wicked' author: Royal baby stands for hope

By Gregory Maguire, Special to CNN
updated 11:47 AM EDT, Tue July 23, 2013
The first child of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and Catherine, was born on Monday, July 22. Speculation is rife as to what name they will choose for the new heir to the British throne. The first child of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and Catherine, was born on Monday, July 22. Speculation is rife as to what name they will choose for the new heir to the British throne.
HIDE CAPTION
What will royal baby's name be?
What will royal baby's name be?
What will royal baby's name be?
What will royal baby's name be?
What will royal baby's name be?
What will royal baby's name be?
What will royal baby's name be?
What will royal baby's name be?
What will royal baby's name be?
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Gregory Maguire: In UK, Parliament is government, queen is 'state' -- concern for subjects
  • He says with fractious U.S. government, an eminent figurehead starts to look practical
  • He says much wrong about monarchy, but it does show a nation's continuity, cooperation
  • Maguire: Will and Kate's new baby makes immediate claim on nation's hope for its future

Editor's note: Gregory Maguire is the best-selling author of "Making Mischief: a Maurice Sendak Appreciation" and many other novels, including "Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West," the basis for the Tony-winning Broadway musical "Wicked." He has lectured on art, literature and culture both at home and abroad.

(CNN) -- A firm old English friend, an elderly one now, who lived through the Blitz, told me this when I lived in London: There is a difference between government and state. The Houses of Parliament was government and did the work. The queen was state, and represented the government free of ideology, and therefore could be a living embodiment of neutrality and frosty maternal concern for all.

I didn't see it while I lived there. I was a radical Republican (anti-royalty) simply because I'm an American. But in the years since we in the Unites States have begun to cry "impeach" at the slightest grammatical slip of our leader, who happens to be head of both government and state, I have begun to see the practicality of a figurehead leader who has no political power, but is more eminent, always, than government.

Opinion: Baby helps make a monarchy better

Gregory Maguire
Gregory Maguire

We have one too: She is called the Statue of Liberty. But she doesn't give birth to a real human young. The Statue of Liberty is copper, and blind. The current old Queen is blinkered, and human, and revered for her humanizing failings as well as her work ethic.

There is so much about the royal family that doesn't work, but one thing it does do well is prove is that generations of squabbling citizens can indeed survive their differences and continue, persevere as a nation. The royalty is a testament to longevity of the nation, if it is nothing else.

Life for the Royal Baby
Britain's Baby Bash

And so now there is a new baby boy. By dint of holy ignorance, a newborn child can have nothing to do with the longevity of England. The child of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, and her husband, Prince William, makes immediate claim on our hope and our ability to splash out blessings simply because he is royal. But so too does any child: He or she declares the future for us.

Opinion: How to raise a royal baby

Children testify to longevity, to continuity. Children, as my friend, the writer Jill Paton Walsh, once wrote, "stand in a different relationship to time" than we do. They have eternity where we have actuarial tables.

This particular baby, with the Lion and the Unicorn hand-stitched into his nappies, this child too stands in for that nation's hope for all children: that they will thrive, somehow, against all odds. By extension, because babies provide us older types a kind of vitamin nutrition we can get from no other source, we have to smile, too. We Americans love our children as much as the British. We love to hope for their future, for all of them.

Follow @CNNOpinion on Twitter

Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Gregory Maguire.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 2:52 PM EST, Wed December 24, 2014
Danny Cevallos says the legislature didn't have to get involved in regulating how people greet each other
updated 6:12 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
Marc Harrold suggests a way to move forward after the deaths of NYPD officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos.
updated 8:36 AM EST, Wed December 24, 2014
Simon Moya-Smith says Mah-hi-vist Goodblanket, who was killed by law enforcement officers, deserves justice.
updated 2:14 PM EST, Wed December 24, 2014
Val Lauder says that for 1,700 years, people have been debating when, and how, to celebrate Christmas
updated 3:27 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
Raphael Sperry says architects should change their ethics code to ban involvement in designing torture chambers
updated 10:35 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
Paul Callan says Sony is right to call for blocking the tweeting of private emails stolen by hackers
updated 7:57 AM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
As Christmas arrives, eyes turn naturally toward Bethlehem. But have we got our history of Christmas right? Jay Parini explores.
updated 11:29 PM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
The late Joe Cocker somehow found himself among the rock 'n' roll aristocracy who showed up in Woodstock to help administer a collective blessing upon a generation.
updated 4:15 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
History may not judge Obama kindly on Syria or even Iraq. But for a lame duck president, he seems to have quacking left to do, says Aaron Miller.
updated 1:11 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
Terrorism and WMD -- it's easy to understand why these consistently make the headlines. But small arms can be devastating too, says Rachel Stohl.
updated 1:08 PM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
Ever since "Bridge-gate" threatened to derail Chris Christie's chances for 2016, Jeb Bush has been hinting he might run. Julian Zelizer looks at why he could win.
updated 1:53 PM EST, Sat December 20, 2014
New York's decision to ban hydraulic fracturing was more about politics than good environmental policy, argues Jeremy Carl.
updated 3:19 PM EST, Sat December 20, 2014
On perhaps this year's most compelling drama, the credits have yet to roll. But we still need to learn some cyber lessons to protect America, suggest John McCain.
updated 5:39 PM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
Conservatives know easing the trade embargo with Cuba is good for America. They should just admit it, says Fareed Zakaria.
updated 8:12 PM EST, Fri December 19, 2014
We're a world away from Pakistan in geography, but not in sentiment, writes Donna Brazile.
updated 12:09 PM EST, Fri December 19, 2014
How about a world where we have murderers but no murders? The police still chase down criminals who commit murder, we have trials and justice is handed out...but no one dies.
updated 6:45 PM EST, Thu December 18, 2014
The U.S. must respond to North Korea's alleged hacking of Sony, says Christian Whiton. Failing to do so will only embolden it.
updated 4:34 PM EST, Fri December 19, 2014
President Obama has been flexing his executive muscles lately despite Democrat's losses, writes Gloria Borger
updated 2:51 PM EST, Thu December 18, 2014
Jeff Yang says the film industry's surrender will have lasting implications.
updated 4:13 PM EST, Thu December 18, 2014
Newt Gingrich: No one should underestimate the historic importance of the collapse of American defenses in the Sony Pictures attack.
updated 7:55 AM EST, Wed December 10, 2014
Dean Obeidallah asks how the genuine Stephen Colbert will do, compared to "Stephen Colbert"
updated 12:34 PM EST, Thu December 18, 2014
Some GOP politicians want drug tests for welfare recipients; Eric Liu says bailed-out execs should get equal treatment
updated 8:42 AM EST, Thu December 18, 2014
Louis Perez: Obama introduced a long-absent element of lucidity into U.S. policy on Cuba.
updated 12:40 PM EST, Tue December 16, 2014
The slaughter of more than 130 children by the Pakistani Taliban may prove as pivotal to Pakistan's security policy as the 9/11 attacks were for the U.S., says Peter Bergen.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT