Dear newborn Brit royal,

It sucks to be you.

You have been born into a combination of a glass house and a monkey house. You will never have a life like you want. Not a carefree childhood; certainly not a carefree adolescence. All your mistakes will be scandals. (How many people need to keep themselves in their pants because they fear being featured in the evening news?)

You won’t ever be alone: there will be people who’ll take pictures of you for money; the less you want yourself pictured, the more insistent they’ll be. There will be people who have known for decades (or centuries?) what school you’ll go to, what bland and inert statements you’ll make on certain important days, and what careers and other pursuits are acceptable for you. (Probably something military; it’s how your family got into their present bind.) As a small compensation, you can choose any charity you want; all that is required of you is a few pictures of you, and a few bland speeches. And as for mealy-mouthiness, well, you can season that with as much patriotic rah-rah and thick gravitas as you want! As for actual content — sorry, you are supposed to have gravitas, not power. Yours is not a job, but a cruel and unusual life sentence.

This all is because a long time ago your ancestors thought themselves special, and set themselves apart from the common people. As a punishment, their descendants — you included — now serve a life in a distributed-jailer prison. This is a modern invention: a prison without actual walls or cells, but with a whole island of jailers, glaring at you through glassy eyes and glass eyes wherever you go, eternally powerless and set apart. Eventually you will put up the walls and cells yourself; I hear some of the old ones, repurposed from the castles of long-dead tyrants, are quite posh. Not that poshness is a good substitute for freedom, of course.

Most of the people who love you will not love you, but some abstract image of you. The same is true of those who will hate you. Most of the words said at you, or by you, will be so polite you won’t ever know if there’s any content or truth in them. No matter; the words will not convey anything of power or importance, because that’s not your family’s job anymore. It’s your job to be a walking, talking annex to Madame Tussaud’s, and any parts not present in the actual exhibits aren’t required for your job either. The something more you could be is not allowed for you.

I don’t really know what advice to give you for getting out of your peculiar bind — but I would meekly suggest nurturing a deep hatred of the insane system that spawned you, and running away as soon as you can. There are cabins in the backwoods of Finland where no paparazzi has ever been. I can scare up a false moustache and a floppy hat on command.

Don’t let the crown get you, boy!

PS. Don’t show this to Kate and William. They couldn’t say they could understand.

Edit. Charles Stross said what I said, except better. Curse those people who are, like, professional writers and actual subjects of the Windsorian hereditary neuter-dictators!

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