Britannia rules again: Royal baby is only latest UK smash hit
The birth of Prince George this week has been celebrated with fanfare across the globe. And the international fanfare is just the latest in a streak of happy news and rousing successes out of the U.K. that's taken the world by storm.
Britain, by all accounts, is kicking butt.
“It’s been a fantastic couple of years for the U.K. on the world stage," said Mark Moulding of the British Council, an organization that specializes in building cultural relationships between the U.K. and other countries.
“There’s a lot of evidence that people’s views of the U.K. have really changed as a result,” he said. “Around half of the people we spoke to globally told us that they think more highly of the U.K.’s art’s scene, sense of humor, how friendly we are, and even how we treat disabled people.”
The good times kicked off in April 2011 with the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton (now Duchess Kate). TV viewers around the world got to see inside London’s historic Westminster Abbey, fall in love with Kate’s ivory-and-white silk bridal gown, and witness the now-iconic kiss on the balcony of Buckingham Palace.
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As quickly as the royal newlyweds left for their honeymoon, speculation began as to when they would produce an heir. But other monumental events in Britain quickly took over the spotlight.
In June 2012, Queen Elizabeth celebrated her Diamond Jubilee, marking the 60th anniversary of her ascension to the throne. Concerts and receptions were held around the country, culminating in a Thames Pageant of 1,000 boats from across the Commonwealth. The Queen and Prince Philip traveled in the Royal Barge, centerpiece of the extravagant flotilla.
The following month, Britain boasted its first Tour de France winner, Sir Bradley Wiggins, who took first place in the 23-day road race. (A sir! Does it get more British than that?)
And the hugely successful London Olympic Games started with a bang in 2012 as England’s biggest icons — James Bond and the Queen — parachuted into the stadium for the Opening Ceremony. (OK, they may have used stunt doubles, but it still made for one of the most unforgettable entrances in modern Olympic history.)
“Big events like the Olympics and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee have made one in three people more interested in visiting, studying in, or doing business with the U.K.,” said Moulding, citing research carried out by the British Council.
The home team also celebrated its most successful Olympic Games since 1908, securing 65 medals, while the capital city boasted the most-watched Paralympics ever.
Less than a year later, Britain showed its sporting prowess once again as Andy Murray won his first Wimbledon title, ending the country’s 77-year wait for a men’s champion. His girlfriend, Kim Sears, was identified as something of a style icon.
Then, in Paris, Britain’s Chris Froome won the 100th edition of the Tour de France.
And then, only one day after the cycling victory, Duchess Kate gave birth to the little boy who's in line to become the country’s king.
“The royal birth was truly a world celebration,” said Moulding. “Events like the birth of Prince George have helped to keep up the momentum, and keep people interested.” Is it any wonder that an Ipsos MORI poll last week showed the popularity of the royal family at record levels, with 77 percent support for the monarchy?
Meanwhile, British TV imports like "Doctor Who" and "Downton Abbey" have crossed the pond to the U.S. with a vengeance, while music acts like Adele, Ed Sheeran and One Direction have ushered in a new golden age of U.K. pop music.
Women around the world copy Duchess Kate’s style, and now, even the baby's style (Kate wrapped Prince George in a blanket from American favorite Aden + Anais) is selling out.
And there's much to look forward to: When little George makes his first outing, his christening, everything that he wears, rides in, or spits up on will be highly documented. Plus, the royals may have more children for us to coo at.
“If there’s one thing I’ve learned from the people we share U.K. culture with around the world, it’s that to know us is to love us,” Moulding said. “I certainly don’t think that the world’s interest in Prince George or his parents is going to disappear any time soon!”