With the birth of a daughter to Prince William and Duchess Kate of Cambridge, Royal Watchers are screaming with glee. Many others around the world roll their eyes and wonder why this matters. Every time a life event happens to the House of Windsor, Americans always question why Great Britain retains this centuries old tie back. But there still are highly legitimate reasons why the Royal Monarchy matters to Great Britain.
Long gone are the days when the King or Queen is the sovereign ruler of all they survey. In the democratic era, the House of Windsor is still has very important function. They are the ceremonial head of government for all Commonwealth Nations. They also serve as the chief titled diplomats for the government.
By comparison, the President is the tasked as the ceremonial head of the U.S. Government. This is why we see him, or more often his designate, at State Funerals with a member of the House of Windsor along with our own annual Christmas Tree Lighting, Kennedy Honors Ceremonies, and Easter Egg rolls. There is no constitutional mandate for this duty, but with time, the president has assumed the role. The US Vice President is often seen as the one with more ceremonial duties of office, but there is also no actual documented job description to support this.
In the US, our chief titled diplomat is the Secretary of State, who changes with every Presidential election. With the Royal Family serving as diplomats, this role provides continuity which is a vital component of the United Kingdom in keeping its status as one of the big six industrial powers.
The House of Windsor also serves as the historical continuity of the British Government, in the same ways as documents such as the Constitution and Bill of Rights are the continuity of the American Government. The Commonwealth Nations also recognize the role of the British Monarchy as ceremonial events in Canada, Australia and the other of 14 Commonwealth realms. This function also serves as a continuance of the favored nation trade policies for 53 member states which trace back to the days when the Sun never set on the British Empire. This is similar to the NAFTA agreements that the US, Canada and Mexico signed.
Many Americans would be hard pressed to name David Cameron, the current Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Cameron has served in that office since 2010. Yet, he is the head of the executive branch, which is similar in reach and scope to our US President.
So the birth of one little girl who is now fourth in line should her grandpa, dad and brother get out of line for the throne is a big deal in the United Kingdom. Countries around the world should acknowledge it as the unique historical and ceremonial quality of Great Britain which should respect, whether we agree or disagree.