Britain is in an uproar over a baby.
To be fair he’s not just any baby. Despite the lack of title and the relative paucity of given names—a mere two to his father’s four—Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor, son of Prince Henry Charles Albert David (a.k.a. Harry) and his American former-actress wife, Meghan Markle, has stirred up more passions than someone a distant seventh in line to the throne might warrant.
Buckingham Palace rankled both press and public on July 3 when it confirmed the youngest royal would be christened in Queen Elizabeth’s private Windsor Castle chapel without photographers to capture the arrivals and departures of guests. (We received two artfully staged Instagram photos after the blessed event, instead.) Neither will Harry and Meghan, who are officially known as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, be revealing the names of the baby’s godparents. The fact that these things are Not Done has put more than one nose out of joint.
In an age of overexposed celebrity children and “kidfluencers,” Archie’s elusiveness is either refreshing or maddening, depending on which side of the argument you fall. But it’s also remarkably on brand, if not for the royal family, then at least for House Sussex, which initially locked down the details of Archie’s birth, rejected the traditional hospital-steps photocall, and have expressed their desire to raise their son as a private citizen.
At the same time, Harry and Meghan have drawn animus from taxpayers for rumors that they were dipping into the 82 million-pound Sovereign Grant—a cut of the annual profits from the vast real-estate portfolio known as the Crown Estate—to pay for, among other things, “floating floors” and yoga studios at Frogmore Cottage.
“They can’t have it both ways,” royal biography Penny Junor told the Sunday Times. “Either they are totally private, pay for their own house, and disappear out of view or [they] play the game the way it is played. Seeing Archie and his godparents arriving at the christening is what people are interested in.”
If the clamor for Archie is any indication, however, Harry and Meghan will have trouble shielding the tyke from the klieg lights of global scrutiny, or brands that may seek to monetize his image.