Whether or not the Duchess of Cambridge chooses to breastfeed her baby – and if so, whether or not she chooses to do so in public – is fast becoming one of those utterly pointless “national debates”, the entire purpose of which is idle point-scoring. True, for all I know Kate Middleton is at home this very minute, scanning the reader comments in the Huffington Post in order to decide what to do with her own breasts and where to do it, but I doubt that very much. I can imagine Diana being that bothered, certainly, if she thought it would simultaneously win the nation’s hearts and piss off the queen, but not so much Kate. All the same, it’s a bizarre pressure to be placed under. Isn’t it bad enough to be part of a family that is constitutionally obliged to treat you like a brood mare?
I can, sort of, see the point being made by those who want the Duchess to get her “Royal orbs” out. At the same time, the very phrase “Royal orbs” tells you what’s wrong with the whole thing. Yes, it’s vital that we normalise breastfeeding in public but perhaps we could start by normalising breasts and not talking about them in such a ridiculous Benny Hill manner. It’s not as though the press haven’t already taken an interest in Kate’s. If they were to photograph her breastfeeding, what would be the purpose? In what way would it be aspirational rather than yet another pap shot? Even if we assume plenty of mothers identify with the Duchess – and for obvious reasons I’m not sure they do – unless it was a picture showing an engorged, lumpy, leaky tit, ideally at that point where you’ve just got let-down and your baby’s casually decided to latch off and leave you spraying everywhere, I’m not sure how “normalising” such an image would be.
We’ve only just finished with the “too posh to push” announcement. Do you know what’ll be coming next? Cloth nappies, you mark my words. It wouldn’t surprise me if Charles has developed an extra eco-friendly Duchy Originals brand. Cloth nappies, and organic baby food, and black and white toys for extra stimulation, and specific timings for royal tummy time. It wouldn’t surprise me – well, okay, it would, but only slightly – if we started speculating on the post-birth Kegel exercise regime. That’d set a good example, wouldn’t it? I’m fitting in a few guilt-ridden panic clenches already.
I have plenty of issues with the very existence of a royal family, but I don’t question the fact that they’re people, too. I’m not 100% sure of the purpose of the Duchess of Cambridge (or me, for that matter) but surely she shouldn’t be held up as a guilt-inducing example to be followed by all those about to give birth. It dehumanises her and it patronizes everyone else. Whatever the commoner equivalent of the “Royal orb” is – plain old commoner’s tit? – we need information and support to make our own decisions regarding feeding. Pictures aren’t a substitute for this and speculation on choices yet to be made by pregnant women, however posh and privileged, benefits no one.