Skip to main content

'Wicked' author: Royal baby stands for hope

By Gregory Maguire, Special to CNN
July 23, 2013 -- Updated 1547 GMT (2347 HKT)
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
September 30, 2014 -- Updated 0127 GMT (0927 HKT)
The Occupy Central movement has already achieved much by bringing greater attention to Hong Kong's struggle for democracy, writes William Piekos.
September 27, 2014 -- Updated 2209 GMT (0609 HKT)
As Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits America, Madeleine Albright says a world roiled by conflict needs these two great democracies to commit to moving their partnership forward
September 29, 2014 -- Updated 1802 GMT (0202 HKT)
John Sutter: Lake Providence, Louisiana, is the parish seat of the "most unequal place in America." And until somewhat recently, the poor side of town was invisible on Google Street View.
September 29, 2014 -- Updated 1311 GMT (2111 HKT)
Julian Zelizer says in the run up to the 2016 election the party faces divisions on its approach to the U.S.'s place in the world
September 29, 2014 -- Updated 1419 GMT (2219 HKT)
Ruben Navarrette says Common Core supporters can't devise a new set of standards and then fail to effectively sell it.
September 29, 2014 -- Updated 2145 GMT (0545 HKT)
Earlier this month, Kenyans commemorated the heinous attack on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi.
September 29, 2014 -- Updated 2057 GMT (0457 HKT)
David Wheeler says Colorado students are right to protest curriculum changes that downplays civil disobedience.
September 27, 2014 -- Updated 0158 GMT (0958 HKT)
Sally Kohn says when people click on hacked celebrity photos or ISIS videos, they are encouraging the bad guys.
September 26, 2014 -- Updated 1155 GMT (1955 HKT)
Loren Bunche says she walked by a homeless man every day and felt bad about it -- until one day she paused to get to know him
September 26, 2014 -- Updated 1741 GMT (0141 HKT)
ISIS grabs headlines on social media, but hateful speech is no match for moderate voices, says Nadia Oweidat.
September 29, 2014 -- Updated 1233 GMT (2033 HKT)
A new report counts jihadists fighting globally. The verdict? The threat isn't that big, says Peter Bergen.
September 23, 2014 -- Updated 2137 GMT (0537 HKT)
Ebola could become the biggest humanitarian disaster in a generation, writes former British Prime Minister Tony Blair
September 26, 2014 -- Updated 1658 GMT (0058 HKT)
ISIS has shocked the world. But will releasing videos of executions backfire? Four experts give their take.
September 26, 2014 -- Updated 1439 GMT (2239 HKT)
Eric Holder kicked off his stormy tenure as attorney general with a challenge to the public that set tone for six turbulent years as top law-enforcement officer.
September 26, 2014 -- Updated 1309 GMT (2109 HKT)
LZ Granderson says Obama was elected as a war-ending change agent, not a leader who would leave behind for his successor new engagement in Iraq and Syria. Is he as disappointed as the rest of us?
September 24, 2014 -- Updated 0910 GMT (1710 HKT)
Gayle Lemmon says the question now is how to translate all the high-profile feminizing into real gains for women
September 25, 2014 -- Updated 1900 GMT (0300 HKT)
John Sutter says the right is often stereotyped on climate change. But with 97% of climate scientists say humans are causing global warming, we all have to get together on this.
September 25, 2014 -- Updated 1257 GMT (2057 HKT)
Andrew Liepman and Philip Mudd: When we declare that we will defeat ISIS, what do we exactly mean?
September 26, 2014 -- Updated 2040 GMT (0440 HKT)
Thailand sex trafficking
Human trafficking is a multibillion dollar global industry. To beat it, we need to change mindsets, Cindy McCain says.
September 26, 2014 -- Updated 2242 GMT (0642 HKT)
The leaders of the GOP conferences say a Republican-led Senate could help solve America's problems.
September 25, 2014 -- Updated 1401 GMT (2201 HKT)
Nicholas Syrett says Wesleyan University's decision to make fraternities admit women will help curb rape culture.
September 25, 2014 -- Updated 1302 GMT (2102 HKT)
Mike Downey says New Yorkers may be overdoing it, but baseball will really miss Derek Jeter
September 29, 2014 -- Updated 1232 GMT (2032 HKT)
Quick: Which U.S. president has authorized wars of various kinds in seven Muslim countries?
September 24, 2014 -- Updated 1817 GMT (0217 HKT)
Women's issues should be considered front and center when assessing a society's path, says Zainab Salbi
September 23, 2014 -- Updated 1805 GMT (0205 HKT)
A catastrophe not making headlines like Ebola and ISIS: the astounding rate of child poverty in the world's richest country.
ADVERTISEMENT