men will rule for decades to come

There's one thing the littlest prince seems set to bring to Britain's future: a paradigm shift.

For more than 60 years, this country has been ruled by a female monarch, who was crowned when Britain was still recovering from World War II. Most of Queen Elizabeth II's subjects today have known no other head of state and find her a symbol of national stability.

But the birth of a son to Prince William and his wife, Catherine, means that, once Elizabeth goes, Britain could well have men on the throne into the 22nd century. (The baby born Monday would be 87 then, the same age his reigning great-grandmother is now.) Britons accustomed to singing "God Save the Queen" are going to have to get used to new lyrics.

As a figurehead, the British monarch no longer fulfills traditionally masculine functions such as leading the nation into battle, Royal historian Robert Lacey said. William currently serves in the military, as his father once did, though neither in a senior position. Having a woman on the throne can seem better suited to a more peaceable age, someone who is more of a conciliator, not a conqueror.

"Modern societies respond better to a mother of the country than a father of the country," Lacey said. "The essence of the British monarchy is that the monarch has no executive power. Therefore the caring, motherly functions become more important."

Elizabeth has been a reassuring constant in British life through times of political and social upheaval. She routinely tops the polls as the most popular and respected member of the royal household. Between them, Elizabeth and Britain's other long-serving queen, her great-great-grandmother Victoria, have reigned for 125 of the past 176 years.

Los Angeles Times

Kate casts aside midwife tradition

Prince William's wife, Kate, cast aside British tradition when she picked the team that helped her deliver her baby yesterday.

Instead of turning to a midwife, an option favored by a majority of women in the U.K., the Duchess of Cambridge followed the U.S. practice of having doctors — a gynecologist and an obstetrician — on hand for the birth of the boy who will be third in line to the British throne.

The baby, weighing 8 pounds, 6 ounces, is heavier than the average weight of boys born in the U.K., which has risen about 2 ounces to about 7 pounds, 8 ounces since 1971.

The Duchess of Cambridge's decision has hit a nerve in a country where almost two-thirds of births are supervised by midwives. Queen Elizabeth delivered her four children at home with midwives, said Louise Silverton, director of midwifery at the Royal College of Midwives. "It's a cultural thing," she said.

Bloomberg News