Once again, royal watchers keep any eye out on the Duchess of Cambridge's waistline, expecting news. But the larger issue is...why?
Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, is back in the news over pregnancy rumors.
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But some outlets wonder why.
It's not like Prince William will be king soon. It'll be a long time before George gets the chance to wave at British citizens wearing a royal crown, and be a good ambassador for various charities and organizations. And even less chance for the poor anticipated 'spare heir.' Ask Prince Harry or the Duke of York about the luck of draw in being born second.
So why is the Duchess's fertility such a hot-button topic?
Is part of the commentary based on the fact she's not young, like the late Princess Di was, and popping out children to adore? Is part of the problem based on the fact she chose take time to decide if she would be a good fit for the royal family?
Or is she simply "too old" to to have children-even though she's only 32, and men often wait until their 40s?
The Independent's Alice Jones discusses the increased age of first-time mothers in "More women are waiting to have children, which can only be a good thing." The UK journalist points out the almost grotesque viewing of the Royal Womb-the shrinkage of the Duchess's role and agency now that she’s no longer middle class, but aristocracy.
"The duchess does not have a job in the sense that most would understand the term, but she does have one important (or irrelevant, depending on your view) duty to carry out – to produce an heir to the throne."
Judging by the fact bookmakers Coral and Ladbrokes suspended betting on the Royal Womb based on the frenzy of possible royal baby news, it's easy to see the validity in Jones's assertion. All based on a source that knew the duchess "20 years ago says that she is probably pregnant."
(Because no one looks for quick fame or attention in a billion dollar industry. Royal wedding, anyone?)
But let's say Kate is pregnant.
At 32, she's far from too old to have a baby. Jones notes that the Office of National Statistics latest reports indicate the duchess is right on track the country. 30's the average age for first-time mothers, which is up from 26.4 in 1975.
But is that a bad thing, or a surprise?
As women have gained independence through medical intervention, educational and business aspirations, and supporting themselves through financial means, babies and marriage are no longer the expected end goal. Women don't attend college to just gain a MRS degree anymore.
That doesn't even mention the impact of the tempestuous global market, housing market prices dependent on the financial sector, or the rising childcare costs. And yet none of these factors indicate a woman can't have it all.
As society shifts, so do expectations. Households tend to need two working adults to survive nowadays. And that will put off instant baby plans for most couples and individuals.
And touted stats by the fertility experts may not be entirely correct anyway.
The Atlantic's Jean Twenge points out that most-cited stat comes from a 2004 article based on French birthing records between 1670 and 1830. Just a little out of date there, right?
Especially when you combine the fact the historical chance of remaining childless was 30 percent. Considering the diseases and chances of death in France at the time, fertility problems probably had a different set of criteria, too
In fact, "How Long Can You Wait to Have a Baby?" offers a better, more optimistic view on fertility rates. Technology and medical fields have grown since the 1800s, and there's been few studies about current medical studies on the natural fertility rate now.
Indications of various modern studies say success rates are a little above the 80 percent mark for 35-to-39-year-olds. 40-and-over mothers may face more hardships, but given the approximation to menopause and middle age, that's not too unexpected.
Not exactly what you hear on the news. Messages are either to avoid teen pregnancy, or have a baby quick with whatever fellow is around because your clock shuts down at 34.
Longer fertility times aren’t what bookies want to hear either. Business would go down for years if there’s suddenly less dire need for the couple. Takes away the commodifying effect
Prince George will turn one on Tuesday, July 22. The Duchess of Cambridge will still be 32. And still able to have children if she wants.
Jones is right: Kate's womb isn't a place for people to observe like a game of chance. All that really matters is the fact the family-of-three are happy and content.