Royal baby: what's in store for 'the spare to the heir'?

Prince George's sibling will have to contend with the 'rotten' deal of the second-born royal baby

LAST UPDATED AT 12:19 ON Tue 9 Sep 2014

Kate Middleton and Prince William's second royal baby has already acquired the moniker of "spare to the heir".

Royal correspondents have been busy analysing what is in store for Prince George's younger brother or sister, who is not due to be born until next year. Several commentators have been looking specifically at the child's "curious" future as younger sibling to royal heir.

Jeffrey Kluger, editor at large for Time magazine, is so concerned about the baby's "rotten deal" as a second-born that he has written "George's Number Two" an open letter. "Every first child will always be a family's crown prince or princess, which is all the more relevant in your family because the whole crown thing is for real," he writes. "You should get accustomed to hearing your brother and you referred to as 'an heir and a spare', which is a term you won't understand at first, then you will, and will go on to loathe for the rest of your natural life."

While sidelined by history, the siblings of British kings and queen are "an even greater target for tabloid indignity than their more powerful relatives", says Adam Taylor at the Washington Post.

He notes that Prince Harry, the young spare to heir Prince William, exemplifies both the negative and the positive side to the role as a royal sibling. "Despite a number of scandals, including smoking marijuana, dressing up as a Nazi and being photographed naked playing pool in Las Vegas, Harry's notable joie de vivre and military service seem to have endeared him to the British public," says Taylor.

BBC royal correspondent Sarah Campbell notes that on very rare occasions, the "spare" has had to be drafted in, such as the Queen's father George VI who took over from his older brother Edward VIII in 1936.

"Few would argue that the most recent 'spares' – Princess Margaret, Princess Anne and Prince Harry – have been dealt an unlucky hand, but it must be a curious position to hold," says Campbell.

In The Times, Helen Rumbelow describes younger royal siblings as "donor siblings" but "instead of providing a kidney to an older child, they provide playmates to the heir who is isolated by his or her status". In their twenties the younger sibling continues to "frolic for the delight of the tabloids", she says. "But as each new baby pushed out by their older sibling pushes them down the line of succession – hello Prince Harry, now 5th in line! – so the existential crisis closes in."

Paul Harrison, Sky's royal correspondent, suggests the Duchess's second pregnancy may garner "marginally less" interest than that of Prince George. "Yes, the media will flood the street outside the Lindo Wing in Paddington when the time comes," he says. "But the fact of the matter is, William and Kate's second child is unlikely to be this country's future monarch."

Harrison says that this makes the new baby constitutionally "less significant" than Prince George. "But should the Duke and Duchess's second born follow in Harry's footsteps," he says, "it will make plenty of news in the future, should the antics of its red-headed uncle be anything to go by."

Royal baby: Kate Middleton pregnant with second child

08 September

Prince George is due to have a little brother or sister, it has emerged, with Clarence House confirming today that the Duchess of Cambridge is pregnant with her second child.

No due date has been announced for the new royal baby.

"Their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are very pleased to announce that the Duchess of Cambridge is expecting their second child," Clarence House announced today. "The Queen and members of both families are delighted with the news."

David Cameron has tweeted that he is "delighted" by the "happy news" that they are expecting another baby.

A spokesman for the royal residence said that the Duchess is suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum, a condition that causes nausea and vomiting, which she went through in her first pregnancy.

The Duchess, who is being treated by doctors at Kensington Palace, was due to accompany Prince William on a planned engagement in Oxford today, but Clarence House said she would no longer be able to attend.

The birth of Prince George on 22 July last year caused "royal baby mania" across the globe. The international press went into something close to meltdown, with a gaggle of reporters doggedly camping outside St Mary's hospital in London.

Following Prince George's arrival, world leaders and celebrities sent out their best wishes to the couple, while retailers swiftly jumped on the royal baby bandwagon. Marks & Spencer was stocking tins of shortbread inscribed with George's name within just 24 hours, while Asda rebranded its George clothing website with a crown and stocked its shelves with "George Fit for a King" baby-grows. · 

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