Even before the wooden double doors of St. Mary's Hospital swung open and the new parents emerged into the London summer, babe in arms, it was clear whole chapters of the day-old's life story had already been written.
Hundreds of news photographers clicked off thousands of images of the soon-to-be-named George, just as they had of his father on the very same steps 31 years before. Networks broke into their regular programming to bring viewers to the scene. An immense crowd wrapped the newborn, his beaming mother and father in a blanket of cheers and applause and, later, as prescribed by custom, bells tolled and cannons fired to herald his arrival.
For any family, even the most royal, the birth of a child is a moment to celebrate not just new life, but new potential. It is an occasion of the greatest hopes, but also often understandable fears. A newborn offers the promise of all that is to come — and the trepidation of not knowing just what that will be.
When the new heir to the British throne was born Monday, three other babies were likely born somewhere in the world in the very same second, statistics show; 254 others within a minute; 360,000 others before the Earth had completed a single turn on its axis. Few, if any, of course, are destined to become a monarch. But, as their parents know, all are endowed with a birthright of untold possibility.
And so we greet five of George's far-flung peers, all born within hours of the young prince. Their stories begin here.
ZAATARI, Jordan — Before they left Syria, six months ago, Ali and Walaa Shteiwi spent weeks sounding out friends and relatives on a name for the child Walaa carried. They decided to call her Shymaa — a beautiful name, meaning good traits.
But now they live in the bleak world of a Jordanian refugee camp, fenced in amid tens of thousands of others. And when their baby was born Monday, they named her Taymaa — Arabic for a desert, huge and arid.
"This ugly desert was the only thing I could think of when I named my daughter so it would remain a stark reminder of the dark times we're living," said Ali, 39.
They are there because they fled the war between rebels and the forces of Syrian President Bashar Assad. Ali has no job; the family depends on U.N. food donations.
Ali had to wait under the sun for six hours with his newborn on his hand to have her registered with the United Nations refugee agency. When an AP reporter arrived at the site, the baby was weak and the frustrated father was weeping. She was admitted briefly into a Moroccan field hospital, where a pediatrician said she was showing signs of dehydration.
"I wish I remained back home and lived under Bashar's air strikes and destruction. But I feared for my wife's life and that of my expected daughter. But here, my daughter will have no life. She will die in the heat. My little, poor thing. ...
"I fear for my daughter's life. If we continue to live here for 10 or more years, what kind of a life will she grow up to see? There is oppression and humiliation here in this camp. We lived a good life and I'm satisfied with that. But God help this new generation of refugee children. They have nothing to live for, except wars. God help us."
Said Walaa, 20: "My dream is to see my daughter play in front of me, to grow up and become a doctor, or a respectable miss. I want to see her as a bride, but certainly not in Zaatari. I want to tell her 'forgive me that I brought you here.' ...
"When I saw her after her birth, it felt like I regained my life. I hope that the people who see how I live like now would not endure the same and would not taste the bitterness of my days. I wish that any woman refugee who thinks of getting pregnant not to do so and if she indeed does, not to live the life I am living."
—By Jamal Halaby
MEXICO CITY — Malu Millet and husband Alejandro Galvan welcomed their third child into the world Monday in auspicious surroundings. Little Lucia Galvan Millet was born at Mexico City's ABC Hospital, a private institution located among high rises in one of the metropolis' most exclusive districts. At home, a jungle-themed nursery awaited.
Millet, 33, is an executive with Dutch consumer goods company Unilever. Galvan, 37, is an industrial engineer for a Mexican conglomerate. Both were educated in private schools and grew up speaking at least two languages. They envision a similar childhood for Lucia, and have great dreams for her, but also very real concerns.