Royal Baby: Birth Order Determines Succession but Not Love

Second best, second place, second in line, silver medal, runner-up, next best: second, by definition, is not as good as first.

Except when it’s a baby.

But until there’s a second baby, most parents find it hard to believe the truth of that exception.

(Even grandparents who may have two or more offspring and should know better still tend to believe no subsequent grandchild can evoke the same mad love as the first one.)

I’d bet a king’s ransom that Will and Kate have worried that they could never feel about any other child what they feel for darling George.

I knew a mother who was so besotted by firstborn Jonathan that she fretted all through her second pregnancy, practically panicking by week 30. It brought a whole new meaning to pregnancy sickness.

She was wracked with guilt about how she’d be a bad mother to Number Two, who — deprived of the same overwhelming love and adoration she bestowed on little Jesus, er Jonathan — would feel unwanted, unloved, emotionally abused and probably require therapy before puberty.

Needless to say, the arrival of darling newborn Number Two immediately relieved her mother of the notion that a second child couldn’t be as loved and cherished as the first one, though she did say she felt a little promiscuous.

It’s sometimes difficult, however, to convince kids that a parent or grandparent’s love can embrace them all equally.

Sibling rivalry is as ancient as Cain and Abel and fairy tales and as fresh as, well, Prince George and his baby sister.

Kids are always on guard for who is favoured and loved most. They measure it in quantity and quality of attention but mainly in portion size of cake and ice cream.

Royal siblings have a different standard of measurement for who is most favoured: titles, duchies, crowns, coronations, power, wealth, sovereignty.

In the future, if all goes well, billions of people all over the world will raise a glass to toast George and raise their voices in song to pray for his longevity.

(Although, as we know, fate can intervene — sometimes in the form of a cunning American divorcee — and Number Two is then called on to advance to first place. This was especially true when infant mortality was rampant.)

In days of yore, rivalry among royal siblings sometimes led to war and pillaging and all manner of nasty behaviour. Nobody said to Queen Elizabeth I, “Play nicely with your little sister Mary.”

It’s safe to say that between George and his little sister, the pillaging will not go much beyond stuffed animals, train sets and action figures.

George, we hope, will emulate his great-grandmother and his father and fulfill his responsibility and position with grace and dignity. (Sorry, Grandpa Charles, you blew that one with the tampon scandal and cheating on Diana.)

His little sister, on the other hand, will have the opportunity, like other royal Number Twos, to fashion her own role in the family and in the world — to cut loose and have fun while doing good like Uncle Harry or to stay out of the limelight and avoid titles for her offspring like great-Auntie Anne.

Whatever role the daughter of Kate and Will chooses, and however many duchies and titles George inherits, the princess will not lack for love equal to that of George.

Even when Number Three arrives.