This was not the first time the world has waited in giddy anticipation for the birth of a prince or princess. I know because I've had one of each.
He will never be King of England, but when Joseph was born, he might as well have landed on a velvet cushion. My mother-in-law treated him like The Prince for as long as she lived.
And she will never be Queen of England, but when I learned I was carrying a baby girl, that same woman dropped the phone and yelled for her husband, "It's a girl!" Thereafter, the mother of four sons would tell everyone who would listen, "I waited 40 years for this girl."
My husband's three brothers, unaccustomed to a little girl in the family, inspected her cautiously and held her as if she might break.
A princess? Yes. Grandma would lay out the fixings for ice cream sundaes every day during Jessie's visits. For breakfast.
When I retrieved the kids after these visits, their cheeks were rounder and all their clothes were clean and Grandma swore to me that she scolded them whether they needed it or not. I never believed her.
She was so devoted to her prince and princess that all through their academic lives she would send report card presents - before the report cards arrived.
And when I would complain about these miniature royals - which I quickly learned never to do - she would ask me if I had bad nerves. "Do you need some kind of pills?" she wanted to know. It certainly couldn't be her darlings who were driving me nuts.
My husband's brother Dan, born when he was a senior in high school, had been The Prince for a generation. This late-life boy had given his parents new energy, and they were there for every baseball and football game, every tennis and wrestling match, and they were leaders in the high school boosters club when they might have been enjoying retirement.
When Dan's wife gave birth to Rudy, named for his grandfather whose sudden death had left the family bereft, a new prince was born. And the four brothers fawned over each new physical skill as if he were a National Football League draft pick at the scouting combine; when Rudy won a reading contest, everyone bought him more books.
Joseph, The Prince, produced Mikey, The Princeling, and another child drew the focus of the world. Literally. I announced his birth in the Baltimore Sun.
Since his arrival two-and-a-half years ago, even the most routine developmental step is noted as a sign of his superior breeding and his unbounded promise. My husband the sportswriter, who knows a thing or two about physical perfection, says Mikey has all the signs, and we all believe him, of course.
When Mikey stood over a putt on a children's golfing green recently, his grandfather was certain he was studying the lie.
"Look at that concentration," my husband whispered to me. "We have another Phil Mickelson right here."
Mikey was actually concentrating on filling his big-boy underpants, but I think that actually makes my case. When Joseph, The Prince, peed on him as an infant, my husband had described it as holy water.
My point is that Dan, Rudy, Joseph, Jessie and Mikey - as well as Rudy's two older sisters, who arrived safely but against the odds - were born into circumstances as singular as those in place for this royal baby. They are surrounded by people who love them extravagantly, who see in every developmental step a special gift and who will forgive any misstep.
They are surrounded by people whose sole focus is to foster any new interest, praise each new skill and protect them from any blows the world might deliver. I had thought those instincts might be muted in grandparenthood, but I find them amplified. I wonder sometimes why this job doesn't come with seat belts, handcuffs and a mute button.
These are our princes and princesses, and we believe - we know - they were born for greatness. They are heirs to boundless opportunity and unconditional support. That is something they share with Kate and Will's baby. But it is a legacy every child should inherit.
Susan Reimer is a columnist for the Baltimore Sun. Email her at email@example.com.
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