So, the British royal family has a new third-in-line heir to the throne. Congratulations to the happy couple, who are presumably in for a period of sleepless nights. Somewhat fewer congratulations to the media and political establishment, though.
The kid is not going to have anything remotely approaching a normal life. For one thing, under current UK law, he isn't eligible to vote. His ultimate career path is already known and if he doesn't want to put up with it, tough: the pressure to conform to expectations is enormous—he was born under a life sentence. When he ends up in that final occupation he won't even be eligible for a passport (for long and complex constitutional reasons). He's going to be the subject of paparazzi attention for the rest of his life. He's almost certainly going to be sent to a private boarding school of some variety (probably Eton, as with his father), to ensure that he's exposed to normal people (for "public schoolboy" values of normality); this is normal for the royal family, and it's worked on previous generations. The usual recipe is for it to be followed by university, then officer training in one of the branches of the military, before joining the Old Firm and learning the onerous duties of public ceremonies and diplomatic receptions. The royals get a particularly brutal work-out in return for their privileges: what other family business would expect an 87 year old great-grandmother to make over 400 public appearances per year?
But those are the traditional parameters of a crown prince's upbringing. This prince is going to find things a little different because he's going to be the first designated future British monarch to grow up in a hothouse panopticon, with ubiquitous surveillance and life-logging ...
I expect there to be Facebook account-hacking attacks on his friends, teachers, and associates—and that's just in the near term. He's going to be the first royal in the line of succession to grow up with the internet: his father, Prince William, was born in 1982 and, judging by his A-level coursework, is unlikely to have had much to do with computer networking in the late 1990s. This kid is going to grow up surrounded by smartphones, smart glasses (think in terms of the ten-years-hence descendants of Google Glass), and everything he does in public can be expected to go viral despite the best efforts of the House of Windsor's spin doctors.
His uncle, Prince Harry, made some public gaffes—going to a fancy dress party dressed as a Nazi in 2005 springs to mind—but these were generally dismissed as youthful indiscretions: they happened in the age of the DSLR-toteing journalist, when repro-quality cameras were still relatively uncommon on the city streets. Now phonecams are good enough that the Chicago Times has fired their photographers, issuing iPhones to their journalists: a move which is either very prescient or very foolish, but which shows which way things are going. Right now we're living through the Photography Singularity; 10% of all photos ever taken were taken in the past 12 months, and the exponential up-slope is continuing.
What is it going to be like to be the heir to the throne, aged ten and starting at a public school (that is, a very high-end private school) in 2023?
(POLITICAL NOTE: I am a Republican, insofar as I support the disestablishment of the monarchy and its replacement by a ceremonial presidency. I hold that the existence of a hereditary monarchy creates two classes of citizen, and is intrinsically discriminatory and incompatible with the principles of human rights and equality before the law. But this is not the thread for discussing that. It's the thread for discussing the social implications of the near-future world of ubiquitous computing and monitoring as they interact with the institution, as it currently exists. Topic drift, especially onto the question of how the monarchy should be changed, will be frowned upon by the moderators ...)