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Monarchy versus the Panopticon

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 ...)



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.

This is really cool. Where did you get this info?


Also, I wonder what is the half-life of those photos that are currently being taken? What % of them are deleted every year?


One of the things that sprang to mind when I heard that the Birth had happened was: if the kid comes to the throne at the same age as his great-grandmother, it will be King [ROYAL NAME] [ROMAN NUMERAL] in 2039.

Of course, if he's his grandfather's current age when somebody dies and makes him king, it will be 2078-- I'll be long dead (assuming no boffo longevity treatments between now and then).

What also arises in my mind that, as a Canadian, I don't give a bleep about this-- why is it top of our news?


As Arthur C. Clarke predicted back in 1951, his best option for avoiding the paparazzi will be stowing away on a spaceship to Mars. I think the problem will not actually be cameras in the hands of paparazzi, or even fellow schoolkids looking to earn a few quid, but handfuls of scattered disposable cameras, mostly too small to be noticed left in likely spots around Eton school and the like, waiting for prince-shaped object to pass by.


Trust me, I feel your pain wrt. this non-news dominating the daily narcotic feed.

("Amiable couple distantly descended from red-handed mass-murdering hereditary dictator who invaded nation in 1066 succeed in repeating a process that every last one of their ancestors managed to accomplish (i.e. producing a child). News media feeding frenzy ensues ...")


See also. What are the implications of ultra-low-power ubiquitous computing devices for British Monarchy PLC? What if the whole of the school grounds end up carpeted with networked microprocessors with attached cameras? Eton College today requires all students to have laptops, and all dorm rooms are internet-connected; it's not exactly a safe refuge from the glare of publicity!

If the royals have any sense at all they'll get the kid started as soon as possible on iOS, or an equivalent trusted computing platform with code signing and vetting of all apps, just to reduce the risk of spear phishing and trojans.


I expect the public school system will change a fair bit in the next decade. They're seeing far fewer applicants (which is why many single-sex ones have moved to co-ed in the last few years), and they're having a far larger intake of foreign pupils (in particular from China and India) than previously*.

Not that I expect Eton to be as affected by these trends as the less hallowed schools, but they will have an eye on the trends, and plan for a changing demographic.

The young prince will likely get to know more foreigners, of non-British appearance and culture, than his father and grandfather.

I expect that security will become an increasingly important issue at the public schools, too. Both physical and electronic. For instance, it wouldn't surprise me if the school ran its own social network (per the original Facebook) and had rather strict whitelisting for outside communication.

  • Anecdotal from friends who teach at public schools.

It's not just himself. His future security detail may want to prepare for their future stress-induced heart attacks already.

In the rather near future it will be not just feasible but common to pick out anybody from any picture posted online. That includes celebrities and royalty. Sure, Google and a few other behemots may elect to block public people, but expect many sites not to do so; or do it but only for "their" region celebrities only.

That will mean an end to any semi-incognito travel or play at all. Ever. It will mean that a prince whisked away in secrecy for a holiday in some tropical locale will have been identified by "prince watchers" within minutes of arriving at the airport.

And if he is masked or hidden, his security detail and entourage is not. A security detail sure to have been identified and made trackable by the same (well meaning) royalists that love to follow his every step. In fact they may have known of his destination down to the room number a week before, simply because known police officers were spotted checking the place out beforehand.

And anything an overzealous royalist can do, a terrorist or fame-seeking nutcase can do just as well. His extra layers of protection will betray him as much as protect him from harm.


I would suggest it is relevant to you, as a Canadian as the new child is also 3rd in line to be head of your state.

Also I've noticed that in Canada the Royal family is followed by the 'quality' (broadsheet) newspapers in a way that is only found in the tabloids here.


I was thinking he'd have his own social media accounts, and that these would be the go-to sites for the latest heir, but I think they wouldn't want to compromise their relationship with the media. However, they could always be used to drive traffic to loyal media outfits, so maybe there will be a a royal twitter account, run by his mum and dad (or their handlers). I doubt he'll be allowed to tweet on his own before 10, and maybe not before 15.


It occurs to me that the new prince will have an easier time than those of us commenting here. As he at least will have a) grown up in an era of ubiquitous surveillance, and b) have the might of the crown institutions advising and ensuring he has the best support.

Those of us who are not of blue blood, and who are old enough to be less elastic in our learning behaviour will struggle the most I fear.


No, I don't think that picking people out by their appearance will work, there will be too many people who look just like him. I'd be more worried about picking such images out of the facebook photos of people who went to his school. However, young children will generally do as any adult asks them, within reason. Especially a school teacher or headmaster.


Minor point of order: The newspaper is the Chicago Sun-Times, the #2 paper in the city. They also decided to eliminate their food/grocery shopping section recently.


This poor kid! In a civilized society, this sort of human sacrifice would be illegal.

Not that I'm saying that US society is any better - Look at Michael Jackson's purported children.


Wales junior will start out with the advantage of being surrounded by people who know how to play the game and will move heaven and earth to make sure his online trail is as anodyne as possible.

However one day he's going to start wanting to bump uglies with another. That person will have grown up leaving the usual trail of youthful indiscretions on Facebook et al. Their history is going to be dragged out for public inspection like nobody else's.


However one day he's going to start wanting to bump uglies with another. That person will have grown up leaving the usual trail of youthful indiscretions on Facebook et al. Their history is going to be dragged out for public inspection like nobody else's.

I can see one possible response to that problem: restrict his dating pool to people (of whatever gender he's interested in) from a not-dissimilar background wrt. security. Children of other heads-of-state being the prime candidates.

This would, if anything, be a reversion to the way they did things in the 19th century ...


Minor nit: Eton (like most public schools) takes entrants at 13, so he'd be starting in 2026. I was there in the mid-Nineties, overlapping with William for a couple of years; having armed police on the streets was a bit disturbing. Speaking of which, it's probably worth noting that Eton College has no campus, but is spread throughout the village and tourists can and do walk around snapping photos of the students. We used to get open-topped tourist buses driving through in my day, though I don't know if that still happens. The Royal Family might well wish to send him somewhere less accessible to the general public.


I'm interested in the lingering class system in England - Do many people still revere the royals? Or are they just another set of celebrities to ogle?


If anything, it is going back to the 17th/18th century. Early modern kings had absolutely no expectation of privacy. In an extreme case such as Louis XIV of France, every moment of every day was a public performance -- IIRC the "levee" in which the monarch got out of bed and got dressed was a ceremonial occasion, in which being invited to observe and assist the king was a mark of favour.

This may help explain why many of these monarchs were not what we would understand as sane or well-balanced individuals. The case of baby Cambridge is a psychological experiment -- totally unethical but fascinating in a horrible sort of way.


I'm interested in the lingering class system in England - Do many people still revere the royals? Or are they just another set of celebrities to ogle?

That's a very good question.

Support for the monarchy as an institution is around 75%, plus or minus a bit -- I will concede my objections to it put me in a definite small minority. They're a major focus for celeb-culture obsession in gossip magazines and tabloid newspapers. But I suspect support for the institution only holds up as long as people don't see them doing anything other than empty ceremonial.

The monarchy is actually the foundation stone of the Church of England, the established state religion ... which is nominally the biggest fish in the pond, but in actual fact has fewer observant members than the Catholic church and Muslim sects combined. It has fewer privileges than it did prior to the 1830s, but it's still privileged. And the Queen and her heir are known to discuss policy with ministers, and (curiously) bills don't get placed before the monarch if the monarch is considered likely to want to veto them.

There are a lot of murky currents in the turbid waters the monarchy swims in, but the first rule is discretion, so most of the time people see them simply as a fairy-tale family of mostly-clean celebs: Action Man Harry with his Apache gunship in Afghanistan, Wills the young and handsome future king, his dad Speaker-to-Plants (the mildly eccentric next monarch), Prince Phillip with his amazing aptitude for racist trolling or politically incorrect humour (label according to taste) ...


It's not the same. Early kings had real power and no expectation of every common serf being able to observe and criticize them (without being duly punished).


"his dad Speaker-to-Plants"

OK, I lol'ed.


And the Queen and her heir are known to discuss policy with ministers, and (curiously) bills don't get placed before the monarch if the monarch is considered likely to want to veto them.

Any way to find out in which direction they are pushing the legislation?


Is the real risk of an Eton-like situation that the Prince is exposed to a them-and-us mentality?

We had two generations of the social elite exposed to the risks of war, and having to associate with the lower classes. That memory is dying off. And the press panopticon is going to encourage the next generation of the elite to break the last contacts and turn in on itself.

Oh, I expect to be dead before it matters. And what has posterity ever done for us?


Of course it's not the same. I'm just saying that there are certain parallels, especially with respect to the psychological effect on the monarch.

Anyway, the "real power" thing was highly variable. Yes, the adult Louis XIV was very much in charge. But what if the king is a child of 5, such as his successor Louis XV when he inherited the throne? Or suffering from serious mental disabilities, as with Carlos II of Spain? Or not terribly bright and open to mainpulation by courtiers and bureaucrats, as with too many kings to mention? To a large extent these early modern princes were at the mercy of outside forces.


Actually it won't be anything like that. It's the perils of prognostication by a science-fiction writer, they can never truly envisage the future because it won't sell to today's customers -- imagine trying to punt the MS of a modern realist novel set in, say, 2013 Bradford to Hodder and Stoughton back in the 1950s. SF is basically today in spandex, people in the future with the same drives wanting the same things as people today want. Kimball Kinnison smokes cigarettes, Krina Alizond wants to be rich, everyone wears hats because the readers wouldn't be able to immerse themselves in the story if it was really the future.

By the time Genetic Overlord Backup #3 gets into school or college privacy and secrecy will be dead and what's more no-one will give a fuck. Some old buffers believe it still exists -- see Governor Romney's all-pals-together video for an example, he believed in his heart that what he was saying to his very rich friends would never go beyond those walls. The Snowden escapade is another marker, both for the fact that lots of organisations are collecting and collating data about you, me and the parrot next door (note that the NSA isn't collecting this data, just collating streams of data from other data collecting agencies) and the fact that that fact couldn't be kept a secret. Even now folks don't really care that others are going past them on the street waving phone cameras around -- in Edinburgh it's tourist season and you'd have to work hard to not get your image recorded a dozen times a day if you step outside your door. Even if the images turn up on Tweeter of Arsebook, who cares? They'll evaporate from the front pages in a day or two then rot forever in a digital oubliette, still backed up on some media or other but never observed by a human ever again.


I find myself wondering if infant Wales will drive things the other way. We're currently in a generational panic about the impact of the "evil new technology" and "how on earth will society as we know it cope?!"

Of course the answer is that society as we knew it won't cope. Just like various disruptions mean most women go to work for most of their adult life, and while the glass ceiling still exists it's being hammered against and through more and more overtly and frequently unlike in my mother's generation where some women worked (most didn't) and those that did mostly stopped either when they got married or pregnant. Society changed a lot in the aftermath of that.

Society changed with the arrival of the TV in every home. Again with the penetration of dial-up to urban areas, again with the penetration of broadband. Again with the mobile and again with the smart phone. I remember party line phones, in the hall, the phone was wired to the wall and the handset wired to the base. You would remember their number, or write it in a book and dial the numbers on an actual rotating piece of plastic. Now I have one friend with 4 phone numbers and I can't remember any of them because I use the lookup by name facility on the smartphone. Actually, if I'd upgraded, I'd use Siri to dial by voice (it recognises his name to email him on my iPad).

So as this sprog grows up however hard they try to protect it there will be issues. And rather than "OMG" I suspect it's going to catalyse society's changes in a way that similar issues for any of the other 2,000 infants born yesterday simply won't.


Now, concerning Sun-Times, do you think it was a smart move? Here's an interesting image from Twitter. :)

To the happy couple, couldn't care less, although even the media over here in Croatia went into ecstasy, too. Eugh. I cannot decide whether it's because of the slow part of the year (as they call it here, the season of pickles) or just because they are idiots who have no idea what they are blathering about.


Swarms of small autonomous drones with biometric recognition (face, height, build, gait). And for his sake, hope they're only programmed to phone home to rather than deliver a small, lethal payload.

Expect the royal palaces and other places to have Intrusion Detection installed - unauthorised smart cameras will be disabled if they're inside a "do not photograph" area, remote sentries on the lookout for aforesaid drones, cameras outside the zone but pointing into it, any unauthorised wireless signals emenating from inside to be jammed/tracked. (This will be SOP for celebs' pads and places where "intellectual property" is traditionally consumed - concert halls, museum galleries and the like, so it's not that much of a stretch to provide a high-quality variant for a VVIP.)


I'm in a different minority to Charlie. Although intellectually I think I ought to be a republican, every time I poke it (as I have in a different thread here) I find myself wondering if every elected head of state solution has more downsides than a figurehead monarchy.

But, like Charlie I strongly suspect, I'm not taken up by the celeb-culture. I didn't particularly mind the news he'd been born being aired - it is significant. I did mind that over 20% of the main evening news yesterday was "his mum's in labour" which is frankly not news and certainly not the most important piece of news.

But there is a definite element of British society that's gone overboard about it.


Any way to find out in which direction they are pushing the legislation?

Not easily. The royals are specifically exempted from Freedom of Information legislation. But I think there have been a few leaks to the effect that Speaker-To-Vegetables is very active in lobbying government ministers. Some of it is indulging his personal obsessions (homeopathy, architecture), some protecting his business interests (he is a major landowner in his capacity as Duke of Cornwall). How much difference it actually makes to government policy is anyone's guess.


I quite like the idea of an elected but largely ceremonial head of state, like Ireland and Hungary have.


OK, I've also got republican leanings, but the thing that was irritating me was 10 minutes of the lunchtime news devoted to "Kate, Wills and 3rd_gen are still in the hospital": The story is when they actually leave it, rather than that they haven't!

Any way to find out in which direction they are pushing the legislation?

The Guardian tried to get some of the letters by Prince Charles via FOI requests, but failed:


Congratulations to the happy couple, who are presumably in for a period of sleepless nights.

I can't think why. Surely they have servants for that sort of thing?


Having the Prime Minister come discuss all affairs of state with you every week is the kind of access a lobbyist can only dream of. The Firm gets to intercede on behalf of its / The Establishment interest in many ways.

e.g. The Honours list. Much of what a Minister gets credit for is pushed / the idea of a public servant, etc. who gets a knighthood, etc. for keeping quiet and allowing the minister take credit. Now stepping in and daying X will not get an honour pretty much dictates what bit of policy a Minister gets to implement ...

My favourite troll for those who think the monarchy has no real power is to ask: Name the 6 occasions Queen Elizabeth 2 picked the non-majority choice as Head of government / Prime Minister ...


Charles was the first one to go to school. They might decide to cease that little experiment and run their own elite education system, with a suitable coterie of little friends.

That plus a bit more funding for the presumed Royal Desk at Cheltenham.

The Diamond Age did this rather well. Stephenson almost as good a futurologist as Stross.


How much longer before the Firm buys some nice Carribean island / Channel Island as a retreat, instead of Balmoral?

Basically the preferred solution of the rich to panopticons is to retreat to Gated communities, or for the properly rich, nicely moated islands. Necker comes to mind,as does Larry Elison's retreat, and messing about in boats / Superyachts in general. But the monarchy currently doesn't have a Royal Yacht.

In an era where Cherie Blair commented that she knew other members of "the Davos Set" better than she knew her neighbours, The 0.1% are becoming physically as well as financially a class apart.


It is to be hoped that Charles predeceases his mother, as, judging by the previous iteration a British Republic in form as well as practicality [ We live in a republic with an hereditary head-of-state, like the Netherlands, Sweden & Norway – see also e; @ 31] it will be a disaster, with bullying nannies, who make Salmond look nice to know, in charge. In the meantime .... I'm seriously thinking (since I need a new phone) of splurging & getting one of the new ones with 8->13Mpixels –which, as you say, changes the world in ways we are going to have to get used to, very quickly. Charlie @ 6 ALSO descended from Alfred the Great – Saxon king who kept the Danes back ….. don’t forget that. @ 7 This also applies to all other “royals” see list above + others &, of course to all the children of all heads of State & executive, EVERYWHERE. It is most emphatically not “just” the British Monarchy’s problem, is it? @ 21 The class system is DEAD – it is just that it is convenient for some to pretend it isn’t – said he with two Lord Chancellors for ancestors & also penniless religious refugees & another whose maiden name was “Paramour” – work it out for yourself. Philip is a product of his age …[ Mentioned in dispatches – is he the last survivor of the Battle of Matapan? ] - he met the son of a friend, doing his MA @ Edinburgh right now. This lad has very curly longish hair – Philip stopped, dead & asked m him: “Are you a Fuzzy-Wuzzy then?” to which Ben said – “yes, sir actually”, with a big grin – which nonplussed everyone. Um.

Jan moren @ 9 Not quite true. William-&-Kate went to Bucklebury a lot & the locals closed VERY TIGHT RANKS & kept the paparrazi out. This, too can happen.

s.coupland @ 12 Very perceptive. Also, as is only too clear (pace previous discussions) the police & security people still haven’t caught on to the fact that they if not quite can’t, are finding it much more difficult to “cover up” their not-so-nice-to-know deeds.

Library mole @ 19 They represent CONTINUITY – which we all need. We only now know of some of the moderating things even Vicky did to tone down some of her ministers’ lunacies. Even George V ( & no left-winger he) who tried to moderate some rightists during the General strike, 1926 “I am king of ALL my people” We may never know whose arms got twisted by Lizzie. The monarch has a constitutional duty “To advise & to warn”.

Vanzetti @ 24 Yes. “Moderation” – trying not to let vast “enthusiasms” overcome reason & a steady hand – it is a vital pert of the monarchy’s job, actually. [ See George V, above. ]

@ 37 The “Honours List” is mostly in the gift of the current establishment & civil service. There are very few in the Monarch’s gift alone: Notably CE & OM – worth more than any knighthood, those.

amckinstry @ 39 But – they LIKE Balmoral & Sandringham. No chance – besides, Margaret tried that & it didn’t work


Did She ever pick someone who couldn't command, however temporarily, a majority of the House of Commons because that's the raw naked power in the land backed by the vote of confidence. She didn't choose, She was given the choice a magician gives the punter i.e. none at all. Anyone who rolled through the gates of Buck House asking for the job got it, basically even when nominally the party they led didn't have a majority by themselves. Selecting a PM isn't an episode of "The Apprentice".

It's possible, it's feasible that She might turn around and nominate someone totally different from a different party or even someone from outside Parliament. Whoever She chose would be booted by the House in short order and the bit of the fag-packet constitution we are ruled by would immediately be amended to ensure She and her heirs and successors don't ever get offered the chance to screw things up again.


I know that you said not to talk about the monarchy specifically, but I just wanted to mention: the kid doesn't have to become king. He could abdicate and disclaim all rights and responsibilities. And then he shouldn't have to worry about being put up against the wall when the revolution comes.

As for the Panopticon, the kid will have access to loads of cash. That makes it easier to pay people to make problems "go away". ("Go away" includes paying people not to publish, paying people to hack and delete, etc.) But, well, otherwise, it'll be tougher than for us nobodies.


Could you clarify this "under current UK law, he isn't eligible to vote" statement?

I'm not aware that any current Act affects his eligibility to vote (once he reaches the age of 18 anyway). If he at some point becomes a member of the House of Lords, he'll be barred from voting in a General election, but can still vote in local authority and European elections and also devolved assembly elections.

The Monarchy website backs this up -

Apart from the monarch and members of the Lords, the Royals all have the same right to vote as you or I, but by convention don't exercise that right. But then again, given Charles's behaviour the statement about not doing so as to "remain neutral", seems a little thin. Why exercise the right to vote with the plebs, when you can badger cabinet ministers directly?


I think this one is very hard to predict.

The very concept of "nation-state" in Europe is rapidly turning into a question of touristic nuances of taste and therefore the role of royalty as symbolic figureheads can have any number of futures, depending on the actual proto-figureheads themselves.

In Denmark royalty seems to survive another generation, because the cost-benefit of having them front and glitterize danish export events has a pretty tangible celebrity-endorsement effect.

The so-called speaker-to-vegetables may either be ahead of, or invalidating the rules, of that game.


It has often occurred to me that the Royal Family are breaking the Human Rights act, basically enslaving their own children into a specific way of life. But what do they care?

As for Charles dying before Elizabeth I, I think that unlikely looking at Prince Philip, but also the media and family managers would never allow it. Imagine an animatronic Charles going about his business, or an early zombie version...

If he dies first,all you get is a state funeral. If Elizabeth dies first you get a state funeral, then a coronation, then 10 or whatever years later you get a state funeral then a coronation. You need to maximise the opportunities for public spectacle, and this is best done by orderly succession or by spectacular death, e.g. if Harry crashes a tank or someone is murdered.

The class system in the UK is alive and well, although it is considered impolite to bring it up or demand that your social and monetary inferiors behave as such. It is however somewhat mutated, with the older 'noble' ideals subsumed into the web of the international Ownership class, who are basically the rich folk who own things. For the last 2 centuries there has been a great deal of intermarriage and work relations between the financial sector and related areas and the old aristocracy. The process is pretty much complete now.

Meanwhile, at the lower levels evil tabloids like the daily mail maintain the propaganda necessary to maintain middle class values, and meanwhile social mobility has been dropping for years, as alternative routes to upwardness are closed off and the system re-ordered to ensure that only those who meet the specifications are let through. The specs are of course quite broad, but one need only consider the similarities between all front bench politicians to see how things are.


"Eton College today requires all students to have laptops, and all dorm rooms are internet-connected; it's not exactly a safe refuge from the glare of publicity!"

Laptops How quaint. And they've got to wear '90's clothing, as well? :)


"No, I don't think that picking people out by their appearance will work, there will be too many people who look just like him."

To the sort of facial/gait/gesture/posture recognition software running in 2030? And as pointed out, the security detail will be rapidly ID'd.


Laptops How quaint. And they've got to wear '90's clothing, as well? :)

Yes. 1890's clothing!


This just in: Facebook is already running face recognition software on their entire corpus of user-uploaded photographs. I gather the compute cluster they have doing this has upwards of a million processors ...


His fate is shared, to a lesser extent, with some others in similar positions. Celebrity children can often eventually disappear (and often they do on purpose), and sometimes they can spend enough time out of the limelight to come back in a way that is more reasonable (the girl who played Matilda in the Roald Dahl adaptation of the same name is about my age, and after spending a good fifteen years in complete obscurity has reinvented herself as a comedy writer). While this is not necessarily an option for royalty, particularly British royalty, it's not completely impossible. In eras where media was slow, people in line for the British monarchy have managed to disappear into exile for long enough to be all but forgotten until needed. While media will not get any slower, popular opinion is already with all of us here -- fed up with the coverage -- and in two decades we can probably expect non-news about royalty to be far less profitable (except, of course, to small groups of die-hard fans). Even in an age of ubiquitous sousveillance, widespread apathy can save a would-be important figure from undue attention.

I have an acquaintance who works in a very expensive, very mediocre boarding school near several embassies. The problem children of foreign dignitaries, politicians, and royalty attend this school (and others like it), and it acts mostly as a kind of day care center for teenagers. There are frequent problems, some of which can be cleaned up by the administration. I gather that these types of places are not uncommon; certainly, if the new child is too scandalous for Eton, he can be shuffled off to a place like this and the media can be gently discouraged from covering him at all. While it is unusual, one can abdicate the throne (and certainly someone unwilling or incapable of performing the ritual function in a period when any deviation from the script is immediately broadcast to the whole globe would be encouraged to do so).

I'm sure we see only a small portion of the scandalous behavior the royals engage in. While in the near future various technologies might allow us to be inundated with reports of a greater number of them, I don't think that communication speed or dissemination speed or even camera count is the limiting reaction here. There are people to whom royal dignity is worth paying for, and there are people who make the business of maintaining royal dignity quite profitable for themselves.


I would agree with your analysis in para 1; I have already gone into complete "royal baby fatigue", despite missing all of yesterday's "non-news" coverage and my preferred newspaper doing something like 2% to 4% on same. Given that they had to report everything from 24 hours including "in labour" to "sex, mass and mother and baby doing well" that's not OTT against the BBC cancelling 2 hours of scheduled programmes for a non-story last night, and making it half of every bulletin too!


Tell me about it!

Our current PM (Stephen Harper) is more royalist than the Queen. He changed the name of the navy and air force back to the Royal Canadian Navy and the Royal Canadian Air Force (admittedly, their old names, 'MARCOM' and 'AIRCOM' weren't too popular among servicepeople, AIUI). What the heck is wrong with the Canadian Navy and the Canadian Air Force?

The big problem with becoming the Republic of Canada is our constitution. A major change (like abandoning the Monarchy) would effectively require the agreement of 1) The Federal government, 2) all 10 of the provinces' legislatures, 3) 50%+1 in a Canada-wide plebiscite [with the possibility that if one or more provinces' plebiscites went less than 50%, that might stop the whole process cold]

The chances that these conditions could all be met (with the additional problem that we would also have to decide what the heck powers our new President would get) are pretty slim.

That's why I think that even if the UK abolishes the monarchy, Canada's Head of State will still be the senior member of the British Royal Family!


'Restrict his dating pool to people (of whatever gender he's interested in) from a not-dissimilar background wrt. security. Children of other heads-of-state being the prime candidates. other heads-of-state being the prime candidates. This would, if anything, be a reversion to the way they did things in the 19th century ...' Well, in the 19th century you could apparently acceptably live with a celebrated actress for twenty years and have 10 illegitimate children by her and still wind up king: William IV.



However, if the UK becomes a republic, Canada will keep the monarchy right up until the cost implications of paying for the Crown, as opposed to a mere Governor-General (and the occasional state visit) sink in.

I predict Canada would then vote to become a republic within 5 years, unless it's seen as yet another handy way to annoy the southern neighbours.


Annoy the southern neighbours? Just think of the American tourist dollars having the British Canadian Royal family just over the border would rake in! They'd love it.


For what it's worth, I think he'll be right as rain with the technology. I worked for a while in a bar in Copenhagen, one of Denmark's only two CAMRA-accredited pubs. It inevitably attracted some celebrities (Mads Mikkelsen being among them), including Crown Prince Frederik (I think he was on his stag night). The Prince took a few photos of the pub and his mates on his brand new Nokia (I think I'm in one of them), had a few pints of London Pride and a glass of our most expensive Laphroaig, paid with a platinum credit card that just said "Frederik", and cleared off, trailed by a couple of very discrete security men. I wonder what other photos lurked on that phone.


Just to be contrarian, I'm going to posit something completely different.

By 2023, big data will be dead, as in "that's sooo 2010."

There's something about the predicted panopticon that reminds me of the environmentalism of the 1970s, or the space age of the 1960s. Eventually the bloom came off those when people realized that the problems were exponentially bigger than they expected, while the solutions were smaller, and people threw up their hands rather than going for it.

In this case, we know that total data a la NSA (and a number of other countries) doesn't solve the problems it purports to fix (like finding terrorists), and the side effects and peripheral damage are quite significant. As some pundits have pointed out, knowing that someone is spying can make it really hard to negotiate in good faith, which means that the deals the US makes with the NSA known to be spying might be significantly more expensive or more restrictive than they would achieved had NSA not been spying on the other side.

I'd say that, over the next decade, we're going to find out everything that can go wrong with big data, from data centers dying in Carolina hurricanes or Utah droughts, to Web War One causing everyone to flee screaming from social media and the cloud, to countries balkanizing the internet backbone on the pretext that the US is not to be trusted with it.

By the time the Offspring reaches school, he may have things to worry about, but not a panopticon.


For one thing, under current UK law, he isn't eligible to vote.

I have to say that I fully support that. I really think the noise would be certain to overwhelm the signal if newborns were allowed to vote.

Seriously: Charlie, I don't think anyone in the US would be annoyed by Canada continuing with is-it-really-monarchy. Those who would notice wouldn't care, and those who would care wouldn't notice.


We live in a world where technology has reduced the expectation of privacy and the political systems are moving to make it illegal for you to bypass that tech to achieve any privacy. I can see in the future trying to hold a political club meeting where you tell everyone to check their tech at the door, wand everyone to make sure they're not carrying, use something to block the radio frequencies, and within minutes have a SWAT team breaking down the doors. (That's the Chicago Sun-Times, btw.)


Kodak announced face recognition for their digital cameras in early 2010, and I bought one in April 2011.

There's scaling aspects to this, but since it was getting into a pretty ordinary low-cost camera, it can't be hugely difficult, in terms of processing power.


Well there's face recognition as in "Yep, this is a face" and then there's facial recognition as in "Yep, this is he"

My mobile has this as an unlock feature, but it's rather hit and miss.


Basically the preferred solution of the rich to panopticons is to retreat to Gated communities, or for the properly rich, nicely moated islands.
Combining this with OGH's thought
I can see one possible response to that problem: restrict his dating pool to people (of whatever gender he's interested in) from a not-dissimilar background wrt. security. Children of other heads-of-state being the prime candidates.
suggests an interesting possibility: an ultra-high security boarding school on a remote island where the children of the international elite can network with each other away from the glare of the paparazzi (and the terrrrrists, of course). The problem with establishing such a thing would be network effects, of course: much of the value of places like Eton is that the Right People go there so you can make useful connections at a key point in your and their lives. And the Right People go there because they can make useful connections.

Speaking of rich kids and panopticons, the US teen drama Gossip Girl deals with this interestingly. It follows the complicated social lives of a bunch of students at an ultra-posh Manhattan school. All the characters live under constant sousveillance, with any mistake or indiscretion instantly captured by a rival with a cameraphone and uploaded to the eponymous website.


You're assuming that the monarchy continues to be expensive. Republics have instances of expensive military display--compare Trooping the Colour with Bastille Day in France--and things could change.

Anyway, what would we do with all the palaces? Sell 'em to Donald Trump?


How many people will have cosmetic surgery so they look just like Prince Offspring?


OK, my Google ID is displaying some horrible account chain, not a name, and I couldn't log in with my WordPress ID. So this is Xopher Halftongue.

As for Charles dying before Elizabeth I

Even Charles I died considerably after Elizabeth I. Unless Charles meets a madman in a blue box...


The current Liz is Elizabeth I in Scotland, where OGH resides :-)


Oh, very well. What about Charles?


Oh, and do they adjust the numbers on the Georges, too?


If he kept his name, he'd be Charles III in both Scotland and England: the crowns were unified in the reign of Charles I's father James (James I of England, and James VI of Scotland).


Xopher, OpenID is a bit broken. If you want to comment regularly here, just create a Movable Type username and password. (There's no ID authentication, it's just there to deter spammers.)


Also note that the failure of the Royal Mail to replace the George VI post box logo with "Elizabeth I" north of the border -- they insisted on a single "Elizabeth II" design -- allegedly sowed the seeds of revived Scottish nationalism back in the early 1950s ...


And indeed in (Northern) Ireland, and of the UK, since the Union of Crowns, Union of English and Scots Parliaments (not, interestingly, union of sovereignties since the sovereignty of Scotland vests in the body politic rather than a parliament or head of state, and the Scots parliament had no authority or mandate to transfer it) and Union with Ireland to say nothing the subsequent partition of Ireland all post-date the so-called "good queen Bess" (Elisabeth 1 of England).


The camera I got recently has a programmable database for distinct human faces, as in it can identify those faces in images and tag them appropriately as, say, "Auntie Flo" and/or "Cousin Jim". This is done in-camera so it can't use a lot of CPU power. It also puts up a message saying "Happy birthday!" if it happens to be their birthday (no I'm not making this up).

It also has separate selectable modes for taking pictures of cats and dogs, that is there's a mode for cat pictures and a separate mode for dog pictures. Basically it does face recognition on housepets and only fires the shutter when the furballs are looking in your direction.


No, the Georges all came after the Union of the Crowns, so they have the same numbering on both sides of the border. Marys have the same numbering by coincidence, as both countries had exactly one Mary beforehand; Scotland has had one fewer William than England. And of course Scotland has had more Kenneths, Malcolms, Alexanders and Davids than England. Wikipedia has a list of Scottish monarchs if you're interested.


I don't think this will be as much an issue for the spawn. The panopticon hurts us mere mortals more than those breathing the rarefied air of royalty. If pictures of my wang are all over the internet and future employers can google it, I may have issues. Lil Prince doesn't have those concerns. For him it will be youthful indiscretion. He's already mobbed by cameras. They are and will be part of the background.


King/Queen-names with different numbers: William (next will be V of England and IV of Scotland) Henry (IX of England, I of Scotland) Stephen (II of England, I of Scotland) Richard (IV of England, I of Scotland) Edward (IX of England, III of Scotland) Elizabeth (III of England, II of Scotland) Kenneth (I of England, IV of Scotland) Donald (I of England, IV of Scotland) Constantine (I of England, IV of Scotland) Áed (I of England, II of Scotland) Giric (I of England, II of Scotland) Eochaid (I of England, II of Scotland) Malcolm (I of England, IV of Scotland) Indulf (I of England, II of Scotland) Dub (I of England, II of Scotland) Cuilen (I of England, II of Scotland) Amlaib (I of England, II of Scotland) Duncan (I of England, III of Scotland) Macbeth (I of England, II of Scotland) Lulach (I of England, II of Scotland) Edgar (I of England, II of Scotland) Alexander (I of England, IV of Scotland) David (I of England, III of Scotland) Margaret (I of England, II of Scotland) Robert (I of England, IV of Scotland) James (III of England, VIII of Scotland)

King/Queen names with the same number, but different predecessors: John (II of England and Scotland) Mary (III of England and Scotland)

King/Queen names that have only been used since the union of the crowns: Charles (III) Anne (II) George (VII) Victoria (II)

All other names will be the first of both England and Scotland.


I'm thinking things will go the Zaffod Beeblebrox route.

Firstly, the primary purpose of the royals is figurehead - so give the prols a show and make them luv/trust you. Harry in a Nazi uniform is much more acceptable than talker-to-plants because people can understand others going to a fancy dress party more readily than cooing over a rhododendron.

Second, provided they accept those stunts the interest in a bit of royal tupping will be minor. Next to the stunts, it's not really news.

So, the way to get a measure of privacy is to fake a lack of it. Whilst they are focusing on the stage managed show, they ignore the truly private stuff.

Now, tell me, what did Branson do last?


I think it would be hilarious if they named him MacBeth!

Speaking of which, what's the delay on the name? IME even people who've decided not to find out the chromosomal birthsex of their child-to-be work out names for both sexes. Do they have to get approval from the Queen, or Parliament or something?

I know the regnal name, if that's the correct term, is subject to some kind of approval process (hence "Albert" becoming "George VI"). But the birth-certificate (or whatever) name? What's going on there?


The official stance of the royals is that, since the Union of the titles (done at the same time as the union of the parliaments, when Anne of England and Anne of Scots became Anne of Great Britain) each monarch takes the higher number, for either England or Scotland. It's merely a coincidence that no monarch has ever had a name where they'd have to use a higher number for Scots monarchs than for English ones.

But I'll lay any odds you care to name that none of the names where the Scottish number is higher than the English one will get adopted. The closest person to the throne with one of those names is James, Viscount Severn (Edward's son, behind Charles, William, unnamed boy, Harry, Andrew, Beatrice, Eugenie and Edward).


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?

if anything Prince N of Cambridge will start at high-end private [probably boarding] school in 2021, aged eight as is traditional with children of his class...

...or maybe not - the Duke of Westminster's only son and heir, may possibly have gone to a state school in Cheshire [his father loathed his schooldays at Harrow]. In fact the way the D of W has successfully kept prying eyes out his eldest son's life could be a model for the Cambridge's littl'un, if they weren't expected [by the idiot public, and the cretinous news media] to be constantly in the public eye.

Google images throws up just two pictures of Hugh Grosvenor - this is one of them, his billionnaire London landowner father is also pictured


Apparently, royal babies are traditionally not named until they are christened, which is normally a month after the birth. I wonder how recently this tradition was invented?

I suspect that there's (a) a negotiation going on over middle names because the regnal name has to be one of the Christian names and they might want to stuff a nice safe George or William in there and (b) give the press something else to speculate about in preference to trying to get photographs.


Ah, thank you. That makes more sense.

I've heard of not naming babies until they're a month old, to make it less traumatic (and avoid wasting a name) if they die. So that could be a very old tradition, but one that has long since outlived its purpose.


I hope they name him Arthur Bruce Clifford Donald Ethelred Fionnbhar George Harald Iain John Kenneth Lulach Malcolm Neville Oscar Peter Quentin Ranulf Stephen Tarek Ulmo Victor William Xavier Yves Zarkov Windsor.


nelc @ 55: I say this with no formal authority attached to it, but I think the majority of my fellow Americans would love the presence of the royals just north of the border. As I type this, the new nuclear royal subset is the lead piece on the nightly news.

The news of the infant Cambridge is routinely the lead segment on NPR, for pity's sake. Is there no escape?


Guthrie @ 45 Your point about social mobility dropping is well-taken – my paternal grandfather died, effectively (in 1924) of the Edwardian factory conditions he’d been subjected to … - & we are regressing to that sort of situation & “the left” are actually making it worse, by denouncing “elitism” (i.e. wanting the best) in education. Idiots.

d d l @ 56 Precisely!

Z @ 63 Popular misconception. Some/most of the “Palaces” are “state property” – therefore would become for the use of an hypothetical republican president – no change at all in costs – quite possibly MORE expensive under a republic [ I suggest those not in the know why this is so, should google “civil list” ] Meanwhile, places like Sandringham & Balmoral are the monarch’s personal private property … um,err…


just call him "Joffrey" and be done with it....;-)

what could possibly go wrong?


Actually he won't be ineligible to vote. Members of the House of Lords can't vote, but then again they are members of parliament in their own right and don't need another person to represent their interests, they can do it themselves. The monarch cannot vote for approximately the same reason. The children of the monarch can vote traditionally they don't but they can. Indeed William IV at one point was planning to become one of the MPs for Totnes, partly to annoy his father. George III created his son Duke of Clarence and St Andrews 1789 partly to prevent that.


You know, I think I know that bar. Indeed, for some mysterious reason, I might just have a picture of Our Host there.

Basically the preferred solution of the rich to panopticons is to retreat to Gated communities, or for the properly rich, nicely moated islands. Necker comes to mind,as does Larry Elison's retreat, and messing about in boats / Superyachts in general. But the monarchy currently doesn't have a Royal Yacht.

Now why does this remind me of "The Stars My Destination" :-) I just reread this one a little while ago, prompted by James Nicoll's review of the Boucher collection a week or three back. I heartily recommend rereading it if you haven't done so recently - it is superb. And showing very few signs of aging.


The problem isn't with the royals birthing, it is with the media's habit of focusing on a single issue to the exclusion of all other events.

I'm not a Republican but it does get tedious very quickly.

The other side of the media coin is that we are presented with the worst set of events from a population of maybe 4x10+9 folk, which tends to make us think that things are worse than they really are!

-- Andrew



No, I don't think that picking people out by their appearance will work, there will be too many people who look just like him.

There are fewer faces than people.

I know of two people who look enough like me to fool close friends. One is Hassan Nasrullah, leader of the Hezbollah. The other is a disc jockey in California, who not only has my face, he also has the same name and was born in the same town in the same month. If my mother wasn't dead, I'd ask her if she was really sure she didn't deliver twins.

The US Feds started installing their first facial-recognition systems in some airports and bus stations back in the late 1980s. I don't know how pervasive the system is now, but I'm always leery of a false positive when I have business in a Federal area.

As for Prince Wossname and a panopticon society... what is he going to be doing that no other child, teen, or young adult isn't going to do? And in a few years, he'll just another celebrity of thousands. Sure, he'll probably have some followers, but for the most part, I expect he'll be lost in the noise.


Maybe you can clarify this a bit, Charlie, but how far away from the throne do you have to be before you're allowed to vote and run for public office? The website wasn't very clear on this point -- it just said that potential heirs to the throne shouldn't embarrass the Monarch by taking political stands. BTW, The Onion is running a hilarious series on the "Royal Bump". As a Republican (in the British sense of the word), you might enjoy it...


Well, I was just suggesting calling him Thorfinn. If she reads this, Kari will get the joke.


My blog post from Monday:

Apparently the only important thing happening in the world this evening is that a heavily pregnant woman has gone into labour, possibly a day or two later than expected.

Makes me wonder what was shuffled off the front pages and out of the headlines generally to make news for the seven or so pages given to this non-story, and who benefits from it.

The Royal Family's main function these days is the circuses part of "bread and circuses," mostly to distract the public from the horrendous bread situation. My prediction is that by the time the new sprog is an adult there will be permanent royal TV channels monitoring them all 24/7, a la Big Brother, and their (and everyone else's) privacy will be dead.


Paparazzi style unflattering coverage of the Royals seems to go in and out of fashion, so I'd guess the royal family will cope. They've done so before.

Diana is a a recent example, but google for "The Duchess's Little Shoe Yielding to the Magnitude of the Duke's Foot" by James Gillray, published in 1792 (!) and wonder if a newspaper would dare publish such today.


If we're going for a Game of Thrones name, we have to work a "Stormborn" in there somewhere. The thunderstorms in England that accompanied the birth were really quite impressive.


You want an heir to the throne to grow up with the name of one of Kari's cats?


... sleepless nights. I can't think why. Surely they have servants for that sort of thing?

Depends on feeding methods and decisions of who does it. They'd have to be pretty cold hearted these days to turn ALL of that over to servants. Especially those nights when sickness is an issue. The best thing they have going it's it is likely easier for them to call off "work" when an all nighter has occurred.


@81: "I suspect that there's (a) a negotiation going on over middle names[..."

In Denmark royal spawn in the line of succession is very carefully given middle names from our north-atlantic non-colonies, and if W&K want to cause some mischief, I guess a good scottish sounding middle-name would be an effective way to do it.


Er no. I want to name the child after Earl Thorfinn of Orkney, which is also where Kari got the name for the cat! There's also a Scottish historical theory lurking in there with the relationship to Macbeth (the real one, not the Shakespeare libel).


Public Schools

In the US this refers to the tax supported school system open to all for "free". Private schools are those where you have to pay for your kids to attend. Usually because the parent think their kids will be better educated or for various reasons of snobbery.

I'm guessing that in the UK what are called public schools are what we in the US would call private schools?


Yeah, "Stormageddon, Dark Lord of All" would be pretty good.


A number of otherwise respectable names are unlikely to be used, because they belonged to previous kings who were not well liked and/or came to bad ends: For example John, James (VII & II overthrown in 1688), Philip (Mary Tudor's husband Philip of Spain styled himself King Philip of England), Edward (VIII abdicated 1936), Henry (VIII a hard act to follow), Richard (III murdered his nephews and overthrown), Stephen (de facto King of England for about 20 years, but ultimately deposed by Matilda and the future Henry II).

Among names of previous English/British kings, practically the only ones left are Charles, William and George. Scotland provides a few more options: Alexander might be considered acceptable, Constantine or Malcolm would be fun but probably won't happen. (But in these days of rising Scottish nationalism, what would be the consequences of giving Prince Whoever a specifically Scottish name?) Or they could choose a pre-1066 English name such as Edmund or Alfred.

Constantine Stormborn, Fourth of his Name would be pretty cool though.


it's more complicated than that...

UK public schools are what you would call private schools in the US, but we also have private schools as well.

UK public schools are nominally defined as private schools who are members of the The Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference (HMC) - details here:

They were originally called public schools because they were (hundreds of years ago mostly) charitable organisations that taught scholars for free. Of course this has largely changed to mostly fee payers now, though I think they still have to offer bursaries and grants in order to keep their charitable status (they don't have to pay tax on fees).

UK Private schools are just fee paying schools without the long history and membership of this elite organisation. Some (most?) of these also have charitable status.

What you would call a "public school" in the US, we would generally refer to as a "state school".

All helps to ensure the class stratification of british society! Us plebs go to the state schools, the upper middle class go to the private schools, and the 1% go to the public schools. (yes huge generalisation)


"When he ends up in that final occupation he won't even be eligible for a passport (for long and complex constitutional reasons)."

Eternal gratitude, or at least an internet hug, for anyone who gives me a general summary of why this is the case.


They're public schools in that in principle anyone prepared to pay the fees can get in. This contrasted with schools whose intake was limited to certain classes, professions or locations.

(In my case, the location was 100 miles from home. Which is so far from uncommon that most such establishments are also boarding schools.)

I'm not sure which, if any, private schools still exist, though there are of course many local schools ('state schools').

Actually, when I said "anyone prepared to pay the fees", that is not entirely accurate. It was pretty much a rule during my time that you could not get into my school if your parents could afford the fees. In practice, it worked on a system of charitable trusts and some paying forward. A lot of London parishes would sponsor a pupil and as so often the case, the pupil sponsored would be 'deserving' in some way, most probably being considered as most likely to benefit from a better education and therefore most likely to help someone from the next generation. But it wasn't just parishes: one modern sponsorship was on behalf of 633 Squadron.

That's why it was a charitable foundation.

On the other hand, that was a bit of an exception. As was the school uniform, which was nothing as new as Victorian. Trousers? Hah, too newfangled, we wore britches.

Would I want to send my hypothetical child to a boarding school?


Though mostly done for the best of reasons, I consider it a form of child abuse. In my case, I was first sent away (to a 'preparatory' school) at the age of 7, which is way, way too young in my view. (At least that was only a dozen or so miles from home. My mother was sent away aged 6 to a school in Switzerland, which is not at all local to Yorkshire or later Kent.) A child who has no sanctuary from his peers for a month at a time can be pretty miserable.


Google is your friend:

In short, a passport is a document issued by a national government, requesting that the bearer be allowed to travel (as the high-falutin' language on the inside front cover of a British or US passport will tell you). The Queen is the personification of the British Government and as such doesn't need one. All other royals have a passport (probably a diplomatic passport for the more senior ones).

Presumably, if a monarch abdicates, he/she would then have a passport. I imagine Edward VIII had one after he stepped down in 1936.


Basically, because it would be deeply silly for the monarch to have one:

'Her Britannic Majesty's Secretary of State requests and requires in the name of Her Majesty all those whom it may concern to allow the bearer to pass freely without let or hindrance and to afford the bearer such assistance and protection as may be necessary.'

In other words, "please let this person pass as if he were me" doesn't make sense if this person is me.

People have got so used to the concept of passports that they forget that just a century ago things were so different.


rcb @ 104 Excuse me, but Ruchard III did not murder "the princes in the Tower" - the most likely perpetrator was Henry Tydder (Henry VII). See also Josephine Tey "The Daughter of Time" & other authors. Edmund would be a very good name ....

Err, incidentally. There are no longer any "Herditaries" in the House of Lords, so one assumes, by default, that they are now allowed to vote .... Anne's children are presumably allowed to vote, since they are all in "Normal occupations [ Bespoke furniture maker, professional show-jumper & horse-trainer, etc .. ]There was an awful fuss back in the 50's when the son of one of the royal dukes [ Kent & Gloucester - descendants of George V's younger sons ] really wanted to be a professional architect ... & the "establishment", hampered his progress, got in his way & in the end, forced him to give it up .....


As previously noted, members of the House of Lords can't vote (but by definition, already have seats in Parliament). In the old days, the titles given to various royals would come with a seat in the Lords and corresponding removal of the right to vote (Duke of Cornwall, York, Cambridge, etc.). But since reforms in the late 1990s, most of the hereditary members have been removed from the Lords. Only (I think) 92 remain out of several hundred, and none of them are royals.

So in principle, any royal other than the reigning monarch can vote or stand for election. But the unwritten custom is that it would be considered highly unseemly. Certainly anyone in the direct line of succession (Chuck, William or baby Stormborn) couldn't do it. Probably Harry couldn't either. For all I know some of the lesser branches on the family tree do discreetly go and vote. Running for public office is probably still out for the Queen's close relatives. Once you get into the distant cousins who are 50th in line to the throne it would probably be fine, although I'm not aware of any who have done it in modern times.


Excuse me, but Ruchard III did not murder "the princes in the Tower"

Opinions among historians differ. But Richard III is popularly believed to have done it, and this is all about public perception.

There are no longer any "Herditaries" in the House of Lords

As I said in a longer comment (currently in moderation) there are in fact some hereditary peers left in the Lords, but as it happens none of them are royals.


Though mostly done for the best of reasons, I consider [boarding school] a form of child abuse.

I'm sorry you had what sounds like a bad time at school, but I'd like to offer my own experience as a contrast. As an Air Force kid I spent my early childhood moving house and changing schools every 1-2 years; boarding school (which I started at the age of 9, so a bit later than you) gave me some very welcome social and educational stability. I won't claim my time at school was perfect in every way, but whose was? I honestly believe I would have had a much more miserable time if I'd stayed at home. My only real problem resulting from boarding school was that I became institutionalised: adjusting to the messy world outside has been a challenge. Maybe this is why Eton produces so many Army officers?

[Oh, and I eat really fast, and in great quantities. Because Eton kids walk about 10km per day between lessons and train at their chosen sport anything up to 15 hours per week, and if you eat faster you've got a better chance of getting seconds. For similar reasons, I'm much less fussy about eating canteen-style food than most of my day-school-educated friends. Now that I no longer train so hard, I have to watch these tendencies.]

On the other hand, would I send my (hypothetical) kids to single-sex schools? Hell no.


The real contrast with public schools was with the family establishment where the children would be taught by tutors and governesses, a form of home-schooling if you like. "Public" schools were a step down from that.

I don't know which British Royal was the first to attend a school with other pupils not of his family but it's quite recent in terms of the national history that the immediate offspring went to any kind of academic school at all as children.

The males have traditionally entered military service; George V and his brother became Naval cadets at the age of 12 back in 1877 and then spent three years sailing around the world on a training ship before returning to England at the age of 17. Charlie commanded a ship in the Royal Navy (a Tupperware minesweeper, but Master Under God thereof) before he resigned his commission to take up his duties as heir. Genetic Overlord #3 will only have a choice of which service he wants to enrol in; the RAF haven't had a look-in recently as far as I know so it might be Buggins turn for them.


On the contrary, William is a Flight Lieutenant in the RAF:,_Duke_of_Cambridge#Royal_Air_Force_service

I think it's probably the Marines' turn, though given what happened last time they may be let off...


Though mostly done for the best of reasons, I consider it a form of child abuse.

I got sent to a non-residential private grammar school -- high end of the non-public school private sector -- with delusions of grandeur.

Ditto on the form of child abuse. If I had kids, there is no way in hell that I'd subject them to that place, glorious 450 year history or no.


450 years? 1552? If so, your place was founded the year before mine.

(And hmm, that explains the Kaiser Chiefs a bit more.)


That 'Richard III murdered "the princes in the Tower" ' was taught when I was at school in the 1970s; In the last 15 to 20 years archaeological evidence and historians' opinions have changed, and it is now commonly accepted amongst those interested enough to stay in touch with current opinion that R3 neither murdered the princes nor was a hunchback. Both statements were in fact Tudor libels to strengthen their claim and weaken his popularity.


The hype about Royal Sprout has been just as overwhelming in US media, which is bizarre, but Charlie may find it comforting that it's ONLY because of their celebrity status - which wasn't really the case until Speaker to Plants marriage to Doomed Diana.


Random thought - is Speaker to Plants in any way equivalent to Larry Niven's Speaker to Animals?


That was all we needed; after refreshing my memory, I have just had an image of Wills and 'arry attempting defoliate the Balmoral estate by hand!


Happy to be here, proud to serve.


In the last 15 to 20 years archaeological evidence and historians' opinions have changed, and it is now commonly accepted amongst those interested enough to stay in touch with current opinion that R3 neither murdered the princes nor was a hunchback.

When Richard III's body was discovered earlier this year, they found he suffered from severe scoliosis (abnormal curvature of the spine) and one shoulder would have been much higher than the other:

As for the princes, it's pretty difficult to solve a 500 year old murder mystery. Maybe it was Richard, maybe one of his lieutenants (acting under orders or otherwise), maybe Henry Tudor. Maybe they even survived, who knows.

Be that as it may, his defeat in battle, death and loss of the throne to the Tudor dynasty would very likely be enough to rule out "Richard" as a name for future kings.


Back to the original topic - I was thinking along the same lines as OGH as to the constrained life Royal Sprout will have; short of abdication, his entire existence is pre-planned in a way few of us could really understand. Yeah, it's a sable and gold lined cage, but a cage nonetheless.

With regards to the Panopticon, I am not nearly so concerned as many in the discussion. Here's why: 1) The amount of data is still WAY more than our ability to sort it. Why does NSA use keyword searches to flag communications? Because there are not enough employees of ALL the governments in the world to monitor ALL the voice and data communications flying around the world. 2) Intelligence services don't give squat about Joe Citizen unless Joe is trying to attack or overthrow the government - really! Forget EVERYTHING you've ever seen in a movie or TV show. In the Western world, government agencies are run by laws and regulations. Look up US Executive Order 12333, originally signed in 1981 and updated in 2008. There are very specific rules about what US intelligence agencies can collect on "US persons", which is a legal construct that includes US corporations. And they take these regulations VERY seriously. Sorry, furriners, you're fair game. However, despite what you might believe, intelligence resources are finite and are focused on perceived threats, not your private conversations. This is not hyperbole or supposition on my part, it's from direct experience. 3) I'd be much more concerned about how much the people you've consented to share your data with know about you. Is anyone else creeped out by Amazon's suggestions? I hope we all are limiting what we put on Facebook; I know I am. 4) In the end, we may just have to adjust to the idea that our current perception of privacy has been made obsolete. Live your life like a goldfish, because that's the bowl you live in.


Forgot about The King in Yellow, thanks.

The Royals tend to be rotated through the Services during their military careers, on secondment and the like. Helicopters are a popular slot for them since a Navy helicopter pilot can be usefully deployed on exercise with an Army squadron or help out with operational logistics for the RAF, that sort of thing. Cornet Wales got a safe-ish slot in a bunker in Afghanistan carrying out artillery support work although he's not a Fusilier, the usual specialty that carries out that sort of duty.


British passports are one of the few remaining widespread uses of the Royal Prerogative and their issue is not governed by legislation (although British nationality is).

What this means is that the passport officers in Her Majesty's Passport Office are issuing them on behalf of the current monarch. As someone else has already pointed out the front matter in the books requests on behalf of the monarch for the bearer "to pass freely without let or hindrance, and to afford the bearer such assistance and protection as may be necessary."

So a monarch with a passport would be like you carrying a piece of paper you'd written yourself saying can you please let me in. Admittedly the book is prettier, rather more secure and has ample space for immigration stamps and visas.

Also, the primarly reason why states insist on passports is so that they know who you are and can reliably get rid of you if you are found to be undesirable in their country. Heads of State don't traditionally represent an illegal immigration problem, so you can do without the passports for them.


Mildly tangental, but there is a real prospect that the bairn may never be monarch (or it is unlikely to be this century). It's not beyond the realms of probability that Liz II could clock up 110 or thereabouts. So the Kid could be 23 when his grandad ascends the throne (at an age of 87, with every prospect of making another 23 decrepit years on the throne, plus a few more for medical advances). Repeat for his father. Such longevity should, if we're lucky, bring the monarchy into disrepute, but the 'nightmare' scenario is a vegetative monarch, Warhammer style, being prolonged indefinitely. Who knows how long a body on life support can really last, especially when the process is backed up by diving right.


nor was a hunchback

You might want to check the archaeological evidence.

As for the fate of the Princes, recent thinking I've heard is that it is unproven rather than disproven. He locked them up, they were never seen again, and it was not unknown to discretely dispose of possible rivals in that era. And the possibility is that someone did it for him without his explicit command is not to be dismissed.

Their survival till the Tudor era is, I would reckon, unlikely.


The British establishment can ruthlessly dispense with tradition in order to protect the institution of monarchy -- as with the abdication of Edward VIII. The Queen is under no pressure to abdicate, because of her personal prestige after 60+ years on the throne. But if they were faced with the prospect of several ancient, doddering kings in a row, I suspect they would skip a generation. If the Queen of the Netherlands and the Pope can retire, it's hardly inconceivable for a British monarch to do so.


It's worth remembering that Tey's The Daughter of Time is solidly based on respectable historical criticism of the standard story, such as by Horace Walpole and Clements R. Markham. The discovery of Richard's body didn't really tell us anything significant.

There may have been other documents found in the hundred or so years since Markham. Tey, I think, treats it at a detective mystery, and it maybe a little too certain.

And she cannot trump Shakespeare, so Richard is out as a regnal name.


I checked hunchback (kyphosis) on Wikipedia . The bend in the "RIII" skeleton is in the sideways plane, rather than the fore and aft plane as traditionally interpreted IME.

As to the princes, either Buckingham could have disposed of them unasked (and most accounts suggest that he was that nasty) or Henry Tudor had more to gain from their murder than Richard did. If they were legitimate, primogenature gives them a stronger claim to the throne than the Tudors had, and if illegitimate, well then so was Elizabeth of York, which again disallows the Tudor claim.


And it is 1936, the year of three Kings, which blights the abdication option. And may be part of why the then Princess Elizabeth, in a radio broadcast on her 21st birthday said: "I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong."

I don't myself think that an abdication, on the grounds of age, would be contrary to that pledge, but it's not my choice.


Good point. Although the Queen might want to hang on anyway until she surpasses Victoria as longest reigning British monarch.

This would not stop Charles, William or whoever from being encouraged to retire, if it was thought to be in the interests of The Firm.


Being insanely rich does keep you out of the panopticon's gaze - see Bill Gates' kids. Or rather, don't see his kids for evidence.

Though the Royal Sprog will face the full gaze of everyone, so disappearing will be impossible for the poor (metaphorically speaking) brat. I await the selfies of his gf (or bf, or plant, depending on proclivities)

As for everyone turning away from social media - yeah right. The youth of today don't appear to have any concept of privacy, from what I can see...


Although straying far from the original topic (sorry Charlie and the moderators) it wouldn't surprise me if Liz carries on for say another decade or more to see t'other Charlie agree to step aside for William and a "young monarch and a long, stable reign" or some other suitable sounding phrase.

And while the school I went to is young (barely over 100), the school along the road from me refuses to burn a Guy every November 5th (he's an old boy) and was founded well over 1,000 years ago... Not like these Johnny-come-lately places like Eton. It's not even 700 yet!


@134: Actually, youth today have far better grasp of and conceptual models of privacy than pretty much anybody else.

I have two teenagers and having observed their rather skillful manipulation of what they share, when they share and who they share with has been quite an education.

That is not to say that I think it is a maze teenagers should have to navigate, but they're clearly not going to make it easy for the panopticon.


Bullet 3)

My main issue with the suggestions of large South American rivers concerns the ones that are completely bat guano crazy rather than the "you like Charlie Stross so you might like Ken McLeod" ones.

As for FriendFace, I have no concerns there whatsoever, since I don't have a FriendFace account to start with!


Sorry, furriners, you're fair game.

That kind of cheerful attitude is why my (Otherwise blameless) US hosting company isn't going to see me renew my account with them, among other small adjustments. A message must be sent. I alone am a drop in the bucket but I'm betting I won't be the only drop.


(Back on topic...)

Automated text/speech processing is getting better all the time; it's already much more sophisticated than a mere "keyword search". An automated system could flag things up for human attention, or even take action itself. If the right warning flags are triggered, it could put you on a no-fly list, cancel your credit cards, send a Predator drone to destroy your house... there may (or may not) be political reasons for not doing this, but there is no technical barrier.

I'm not especially worried that the CIA will harass me personally. I am somewhat concerned about law enforcement, various government agencies, and their private contractors. Do you want any one of a million complete strangers to be able to rummage through your medical history, financial records, and all your communications? Even if you feel you are squeaky clean and have nothing to hide, can you say the same for your employer, the council planning officer, your kid's university tutor... anyone anywhere who might be in a position to do you harm? This is far from hypothetical, as demonstrated by the recent cases of the UK police selling information to tabloid newspapers.

Meanwhile, the big-league intelligence agencies certainly do target people like peace protestors, environmental activists, and civil rights campaigners. While I may not fall into any of these categories, I would be worried about living in a society where none of them can operate.


There are very specific rules about what US intelligence agencies can collect on "US persons", which is a legal construct that includes US corporations. And they take these regulations VERY seriously.

Indeed - by subcontracting said intelligence-collection to GCHQ, and requesting it from them under the UKUSA agreement. But it's OK, because they return the favour by collecting SIGINT on British citizens and handing it over to GCHQ on request.


Having been thinkign about it some more, it seems to me that it all depends...

The meeja will continue their love/ hate symbiotic relationship with the monarchy, which will ensure a lack of really damaging stories.
But at the moment, the panopticon is really only operating in a top down fashion, with the powerful looking down at us. In the future, from Charlie's list, the technology may allow us to look back more and better.

The problem there is that it may not be permitted. The child might find themselves being mentioned in attempts to pass bills which would restrict the use of facial recognition software, or that would permit the security forces all the way down to your local council, to be able to chase after people who use such software in a stalkerish way.

There's enough cachet still with being Royal that I wouldn't expect them to get lost in the noise, as suggested by TRX upthread.


The babe's name has been announced as George Alexander Louis, and there is plenty of speculation as to the reasons. George is obvious.


One shoulder would have been noticeably higher than the other. The posthumous portrait of Richard III we have seems to be pretty accurate his face looks very like the reconstruction based on his skull. The pose is taken from an angle which minimises the visible effects of the Scoliosis but it is still present.

In regards the prince's one of the most damming pieces of evidence against Richard is that when rumours that he had had his nephews murdered began to circulate he failed to produce them, this indicates that they were dead by that point. When Lambert Simnel was claiming to be the Earl of Wariwick Henry VII produced the actual earl. It wasn't that effective (the rebels claimed the Earl was a fake) but he did it.


Making his initials GAL M-W. Errr.....


the 'nightmare' scenario is a vegetative monarch, Warhammer style, being prolonged indefinitely

If they start sacrificing souls to the Eternal Liz, then yes, definitely.

Still, doesn't it give us a better chance of conquering the universe?


This child need not manage their own social media pages or publicity, or work out what they think about the media on their own. In fact, those with advanced ideas about the perfectibility of humanity via nurture might wish to consider that very few expenses of any kind need be spared in the upbringing of this child. Arguably the trajectory of royal upbringings from private tutor via Gordonstoun to Eton shows an increasing respect for education. What if we had the heir to the throne publishing research papers in economics under assumed names as a hobby?


"0.9 of anything is c@rp". With economics papers, that number is several orders of magnitude closer to unity.


I'm fascinated by your concept that technology will fundamentally change the way that young Geordie will have to interact with the outside world - aka "the mob". People of power - and their offspring - always have, and always will have, systems and structures that insulate them from the worst excesses of themselves.

Technology that "edits" the real world, in real time, around them is the obvious answer, Phone and Wifi blockers spring to mind. If technology overcoming privacy is the problem, people with influence and resource will develop technology that protects their privacy (and perhaps those looking to pochle a wee picture, a scrambled memory card will be the least of their worries)

Mind you I'm of that analogue generation that grew up in the Highlands of Scotland, and went to a school where we played royals (Andrew in my case) at sports as they had been exiled to the far North to study at Gordonston, Philip's Alama Matter. Andrews personal protection in the 70’s was a poor downtrodden special Branch officer, (I’d love to think he was a Laundry reject) dammed to follow HRH to every local Rugby and Cricket match, where he in his turn would be followed by a series of small boys asking him every five mins “hey Mister – is that a gun in your jacket”.

I understand he cracked in 1977 and eloped with the soccer masters wife………


At some point, I think that privacy will become more salable than publicity. Not sure whether the tipping point will be produced by some horrible tragedy to a much-loved celebrity or (more likely) a redefinition of 'cool'.

Re: Baby King George and the old-school network, 'public school/Eton', etc. -- Not sure I agree that his Mum and Dad want that for him.

(1) Because Princess Di insisted on raising her sons as 'normally' as possible, they're able to blend in socially amongst their age group. And, I for one, do believe that William and Harry were very deeply attached to their Mum, more so than Charles to his Royal Mum, so they're likely to want the same for their children.

(2) William and Catherine met at St. Andrews, a very accessible college, no barbed wires, or any other major barriers to entry.

(3) Most importantly, every generation has its new wealth/money/elite - which means you're less likely to get to know them (get their money/investments) if you only hang out with the old guard. Although QE2 and family have managed to remain very popular at home and abroad, so that a lot of the new money often aspires to get an invite to the palace, this may not last so the smart move would be to increase/improve one's odds.


Along with everyone elses .. dave p @ 124 In the Western world, government agencies are run by laws and regulations. ... and the reason Mr Snowden is in Russia riught now is because the USSA'a agencies did precisel the opposite & did NOT obey the lwas & strictures? Or isn't it?


2) For those who've never been to St Andrews, there is no, repeat no "university campus". You can be walking down more or less any road in the town, and see a sign on the side of a doorway "University of St Andrews: Department of $Subject". Similarly with student residences.


Back when anyone with a few mates and a longhouse could call themselves a king, none of them had any privacy at all. This was of course mediated by extreme penalties for gossip.

I'm disappointed by their choice of name for the brat. Predictable and conventional.

Þorfinnr is a great name, but my money was on Dodi, or James.


I think it's probably the Marines' turn, though given what happened last time they may be let off...

yes helicopter seem to the military transport of choice for the modern royals, both the Prince of Wales and the Duke of York are very experienced in the use of choppers....Charles in 845 Naval Air Squadron, Andrew in 820 Naval Air Squadron.

and the aforementioned Prince Edward, who was in the Marines for at least half-an-hour ;-) is the only member of the royal family to take his title from a helicopter!

the Westland Wessex. Coincidence? I think not.

I was surprised that William wasn't created the Duke of Chinook...


Might one point out that a boy saddled with GAL Windsor might have bigger issues than living in a panopticon?

I wonder if (as with a certain Shel Silverstein Poem/Johnny Cash song), his parents wanted him to grow up with a bit of adversity to toughen him up...


In the US, "There's a new pet in the White House" is always front page news.


"I cannot decide whether it's because of the slow part of the year (as they call it here, the season of pickles)...." In the US, newspeople used to call it "The silly season."


Looking ahead of present technology: Suppose brain-reading technology were to become practical.

For a while, I might have more privacy than many people -- much of my thinking isn't in words.


Maybe the House of Windsor should take advice from the Dutch and Scandinavian families?

They all seem to manage to live under a far milder limelight. The nearest cafe to where I live is owned by a Danish lady, so every once in a while I leaf through the Danish royalwatcher tabloid she subscribes to, which goes on and on about how boring and conventional Prince Frederick and his family are. They might have to accept a steep reduction in their pensions, and sign over more crown property to a national trust, but it might save this princeling from the future you're talking about.


As you point out as the major thrust of the article, this young person currently known as Prince will be the first member of the Royal Family in short-list Line of Succession to grow up with full exposure to the internett. I'm sure that means that he'll have much more exposure to ordinary people and their ideas, ideals, and aspirations than anyone born into that family has had for several centuries. I think this might well be A Good Thing.


There's a US Federal Law which sets an age limit of 13: not a total bar but a great many sites don't want the hassle of getting parental permission. This de facto age limit, combined with my recollections of my schooldays, leaves me wondering just what he might do when he hits the wildly assorted swivel-eyed loons of the Internet.

It's not really about growing up with the Internet, it's about having the ability to question what you see there.

We often mock the crazy ideas that people have. Well, there are worse things than Speaker-to-Plants.



They all seem to manage to live under a far milder limelight. ... every once in a while I leaf through the Danish royalwatcher tabloid she subscribes to, which goes on and on about how boring and conventional Prince Frederick and his family are ... it might save this princeling from the future you're talking about.

Despite the low-key lifestyle they still have royal-watcher tabloids: I suspect the only way to get a low-key lifestyle is to abdicate and move to another country.


Ahem! St Andrews is a University, full university status was granted 600 years ago this year. A college is a sub-group within a university, and St Andrews had 2 or 3 of them before it got all modernised last century.

It is somewhat accessible insofar as you just have to get the grades and pony up the cash for it, although like other universities, the costs of attending are rising because of government policy being to privatise everything and stop the oiks going to uni.

Going to St Andrews and doing the correct course, e.g. history of art, allows you to meet some of the future deputy rulers of the world. There was still in the late 90's a social divide between the yahs, who usually studied arty topics, and everyone else who did actual real topics because they weren't getting to do summer placements in their uncle's merchant bank.

Now the way that people at St Andrews coped with all this royalness was to basically ignore it. Most either went "It's just another human being lets leave it alone", others did so out of respect for royalty. I actually think that from the general public, the new baby won't have much of a problem. It's the tabloids and papparazi that are the problem.

So when the child gets old enough to go to school, I expect it to be pretty much ignored by people around it. There might of course be a scandal involving a teacher trying to sell photos or something, but I expect the royal family will try to glut that market beforehand with carefully staged photo ops.

Or will there be an entire room full of computer operators checking the UK internet traffic feed for people doing facial matching on the prince?


Some of this is simple economics: The target market for photos of the Danish royal family is about 6 million Danes. For the British royals, it numbers in the hundreds of millions -- the UK, USA, Canada, Australia and NZ to start with, plus some interest from the non-English-speaking world. All else being equal, there is a lot more profit in photos of British royalty.


I read that as "Danish Royal-watching tabloids still exist, but they're specialist magazines filed next to Total Carp, What Tattoo? and Linux Format; mainstream news organisations rarely report royal news". Any Danes able to comment?


Or perhaps "specialist Danish-language royal-watching tabloids exist, but they cover royalties of many nations and bemoan how little space they're able to devote to the home team."


re: "the social implications of the near-future world of ubiquitous computing and monitoring as they interact with the institution," Gail Collins of the NY Times has an interesting comment this morning

"It really does make sense to breed a totally separate group of people just for the purpose of creating feel-good news and enough bad behavior for diverting gossip.... It’s a win-win. Except for the price, although a monarchy would still be way cheaper than cotton subsidies. "



Using tabbed browsing and multiple tabs open. The NYT piece has a tab labeled "Windsors Versus Weiner".

Brown Windsor soup is a fairly tasteless brown soup. Wiener can be USian for sausage. I found both of the referenced stories to be about as interesting choosing soup or sausages for lunch.

Conclusion - The piece is at least partly wrong, because some of us are interested in neither the Saxe-Coburg-Gothes nor in whether or not Congressmen sext outside marriage.


Re: "Ahem! St Andrews is a University, ... "

Mea culpa .... No offense intended.

Found this Times (U.K.) snippet ...

"Rectors at Scotland's oldest, and the English-speaking world's third-oldest, university, dating from 1413, have included John Stuart Mill and John Cleese. Academic dress is commonly worn by many of its 8,600-plus students and approximately 800-strong faculty. St Andrews has strong American links, with three Declaration of Independence signatories attending it or receiving its degrees - James Wilson, Benjamin Franklin and John Witherspoon."

Sounds like the perfect place to educate a British Royal. (Interesting which rectors this piece highlights: Mill and Cleese.)


Some of this is simple economics: The target market for photos of the Danish royal family is about 6 million Danes...

As it happens, I am one quarter Danish (a pair of great-grandparents came over, the only immigrants in recent generations); I'm plausibly part of that target market. How much do I care about the Danish royals? Not much. If I lived in Denmark I could probably be arsed to remember who's up to what among the first few folks in line for the throne. Here in America? Nope.


without recourse to google and/or wikipedia I'd struggle to tell who is King {Queen???} of Denmark.

Sandi Toksvig?

I know a chap with designer stubble has just got the big gig in Belgium, but I'm at loss to what the King of Norway, Sweden looks like. I could probably pick the King of Spain out of a police line-up [if its still Juan-Carlos]

in the words of King Faroukh of Egypt [where are they now?] "Soon there will be only five Kings left - King of Clubs, King of Hearts, King of Spades, King of Diamonds - and the King of England"


The target market for Danish Royalty Essence is a fair deal bigger than the danish population: German glossy magazines use them and the swedish royal family as an erzats for a domestic royal family.

Also, due to Mary Donaldsons tasman roots, the aussies spend a lot of ink on her in their glossys.

We have one weekly glossy in Denmark which specifically calls itself "Denmarks Royal Picture Magazine" (mast head: "Billed-Bladet") and one of the two danish tabloids ("BT") is for all intents and purposes a daily for the same market segment and it's a rare day where they don't spend two pages on eu.royalty. Add to that two scandal-peddling glossies which will print any wild speculation that makes a good headline.

In 2010 the government disclosed for the first time the cost of running the danish royalty: 342MDKR (46MEUR/61MUSD/40MGBP) og which a large fraction is really museum-like expenses to keep various old real-estate and junk polished.

Danish industry claims, unsubstantiated, that appearances by washed and smiling royalty is worth much more than that as marketing abroad.

Independent estimates have come to the conclusion that electing and running a presidency would cost "about the same", and that the Danes would likely elect their queen as the first president anyway.

The danish monarch has a weak constitutional role in normal times, and is the "backup-government" if for some reason no regular government is available (See: WWII) Every New Years Eve, at 18:00 sharp, the queen speaks to the nation, one of the most watched TV-events of the year.

About 20 years ago the crown-prince was not particularly happy about having been born to be a "cake-topper" (his words), joined the danish special forces ("Frømandskorpset" = The Frogmen) to prove to whoever cared that he wasn't just that. (When the US president popped by, the tabloids duly ran "Frederick protects Clinton" headlines).

At least in my part of the country, the public sentiment back then was that if he didn't want to be king, nobody else should be allowed to, and that's probably the closest we've been to a republic.

Since then he's acquired a cute wife (The prototype-Kate), produced four kids which he bikes to kindergarten ("like every loving dad" according to the tabloids), and seems to be settling in to a career as a "professional hand-shaker" (his own words).

Compared to the british monarchy the private holdings of the danish royal family is a pittance, and they are quite open about their life and outlooks, several good in-depth interview books have been published.

Ohh, and the queen smokes like a chimney and refuses to abdicate, claiming that in Denmark "you stay on the perch 'til you drop off it")


I didn't realise this was such a difficult concept.

If you speak Danish, you are part of the target market for a Danish translation of Rule 34. Does this mean that every Danish speaker in the world will want to buy a copy? Obviously not. But you can expect more success selling Danish copies in Copenhagen than in Madrid.

There are many more Spanish speakers than Danish speakers in the world. So all else being equal, we can be confident that a Spanish translation of Rule 34 will sell more copies than one in Danish. Do you see the point now?


I think maybe Edward Snowden has something to say on this: “I don’t want to live in a world where there’s no privacy and therefore no room for intellectual exploration and creativity.”

So does the monarchy perhaps turn cipherpunk? Or had it alresdy?



A bad analogy is like a wet screwdriver.

It is much easier to vend a glossy picture of a babe in a fancy dress and lots of expensive accessories by adding a few inane "fashion-comments", than selling a literary work of fiction where readers actually have to think.


I thoroughly disagree: The NSA programs disclosed were, as reported in the press, vetted and approved by the US Congress and the FISA courts - NOT a rogue operation, nor looking at the contents of communications, UNLESS the pattern recognition threw up a flag, at which point a human had to review the case and prepare a request for a warrant from the FISA court, in the same manner a criminal search warrant is approved.

You may not approve of the policy, but it was a conscious decision by three branches of the US government, in response to the perceived need to detect terror plots like 11 Sep 01 and 7 Jul 05; in a world of ubiquitous communication, how do you propose a nation protect itself against those who would attack the innocent? Where do we draw the line between privacy and safety?

@ 139

"An automated system could flag things up for human attention, or even take action itself. If the right warning flags are triggered, it could put you on a no-fly list, cancel your credit cards, send a Predator drone to destroy your house... there may (or may not) be political reasons for not doing this, but there is no technical barrier."

None of those actions take place, by policy, without human intervention - with reason. You all may talk about "the Government" like it's some monolithic entity or inhabited by soulless apparatchiks, but IT AIN'T SO. I've spent my life in public service and, like it or not, the governments with which I've had contact are overwhelmingly populated with dedicated, moral and reasonably intelligent PEOPLE. People with families, communities and values not dissimilar to yours. And THAT is your greatest defense.

Besides, if you were really afraid of the state swooping down on you for speaking out, you wouldn't be posting here, would you? ;)



Worldwide market for English language things > Worldwide market for Danish speaking things


Worldwide market for UK royal merchandise > Worldwide market for Danish royal merchandise

A slight oversimplification I know, but that's the only point I was trying to make.



If by "merchandise" you mean ugly cups, plates, mugs and other dust-collectors commemorating this or that event. That's a quite british thing.

What I'm talking about is the "selling eye-balls to advertisers" business where the main commodity is punters attention.

In that market, any eu.royalty is equally good stuffing, sorting order is: scandals, love-stories (real or ficticious), weddings, births, and deaths. Nationality is merely a minor modifier.


I disagree. Plenty of Americans follow the British royal family but have little or no interest in the Danes, Norwegians, Belgians or whoever.


Meanwhile I am British and have more interest in the Monagasque RF than in the British one aside from the Kents (and my interest in the aforementioned reflects our common interests in F1 motor racing and Lawn Tennis rather than"soap operatics").


Yeah, OK. I live in Britain and I know perfectly well that lots of Brits have no interest in the RF. I don't really care about them myself (my username is based on a Muse lyric).


Anyway, back on topic: Media interest/intrusion directed at the British RF would continue even if they cut back to a more modest Scandinavian lifestyle. There's just a larger market for photos/gossip/whatever. This is partly a language thing, but also because over the years they have built up a stronger "brand" (much as I dislike that word) than the other European royals.

It's self-perpetuating: They had the biggest and best palaces (and speak English), so they were sold as the biggest and best royal spectacle, so that's what people will continue to believe they are. The facts on the ground may change, but the legend will lag a long way behind.


I've also worked for government, and in fact was a candidate to work for the NSA until they discovered I had an interest in art. Subversive, right?

I too doubt soulless bureaucrats are a common as people think. I do think that the logic of "we can't have another disaster on my watch," leads in the direction of "do what ever is possible, deal with the legalities later." NSA has a very expansive view of what is legal. And the NY Times has an article this morning on the ideological bent of the FISA court judges leading them to approve of almost everything requested.

It's fear-driven feature creep


Yeah, as a general rule, my interest in $celebrity tends to have more to do with meeting them (writers), their back catalogue (writers again, actors and musical performers) or their next event (sportscritters) than in "being famous for being famous" or accident of birth.


*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. *


I have one of those spiffing new Nokia 925s I've used a GS4 and an HTC One I have an iPhone4 and Mrs One has an iPhone 5, I was using a phone from a certain Tokyo based brand that won't be launched until September (Guess what my day job involves!) They all boast state of the art cameras, my 5 year old Nikon DSLR, which was not a top of the range Pro model then, still basically trounces them all. Perhaps it might be something to do with the dirty great big low noise sensor and the big ass lumps of glass that aren't ever going to fit into a smartphone.

Because our office is very near paddington, one of our admins took the afternoon off and wandered around to St Mary's to see Mr and Mrs Windsor and Young master Windsor leave. She being a bit of a fan of the royals, took her quite reasonable phone camera and managed after some jostling to find herself stood next to one of the Paps with his 1D and associated bazooka like appendages.

Her pictures show tiny little people in a sea of other tiny little people. Could be anyone really. I suspect that Mr Paparazzi wasn't similarly disappointed by the shots he took from the same vantage point.

Phone Cameras. Pah! I fart in their general direction!


Chicago Sun-Times, it turns out. (Hey, they talk about the London Times as if a newspaper of that name exists, I'll talk about the Chicago Times. OK?)

The results are questionable, let's put it that way. I suspect phonecams will catch up with where DSLRs are today eventually, but first they'll need to turn the entire rear side of the phone into a sapphire-coated CCD, then do omnifocus (to do away with the need for a lens system). However, that requires insane amounts of image processing by current standards, and doubtless DSLRs will have moved on by the time their smaller brethren catch up ...


The NSA programs disclosed were, as reported in the press, vetted and approved by the US Congress and the FISA courts...

The vetting was of questionable quality, given that NSA officials and their superiors have repeatedly lied to Congress about what they were doing (viz. Clapper's flat lie, when asked point-blank whether there was surveillance touching hundreds of millions of Americans --- since admitted as such by Clapper himself). To say nothing of the public statements from Patriot Act sponsors such as Rep. Sensenbrenner that they never meant to authorize anything like the current programs, and are surprised and distressed to hear about them.

I also don't draw much comfort from the "only metadata, not content" line. Consider a phone call whose anodyne content quickly arranges a meeting somewhere at 6:00 PM the next Wednesday. The content tells you nothing --- but if you know that one of the parties is a housewife, and the other is a divorce lawyer (or a drug dealer, or a medical specialist of some kind) you suddenly know quite a bit. The metadata in this case is more revelatory than the content --- all the more so if you are equipped to locate patterns over time. It's also far more amenable to aggregation and automated analysis.

(And that assumes that you're willing to take these assurances at face value even though the people offering them have already been caught lying, and their underlings have been known to play fast and very loose with the policies proclaimed by the brass. Back in 2008, a whistleblower named David Faulk reported that bored NSA intercept operators were spicing up the job by listening in on phone sex between soldiers and their at-home spouses.)

Getting back to the panopticon, it's worth thinking about what broad surveillance capabilities the spooks might have which haven't yet been disclosed, in terms of aggregating data from license-plate readers, surveillance cameras that feed into centralized systems (Google for "trapwire"), financial data streams, and so forth. I'm surely not the first to point out that the rationale underlying the FISA order to Verizon (the records are "tangible things", and you have no reaonable expectation of privacy in who you're calling since you told the phone company) certainly looks like it would apply with equal force to credit-card payments.


This is going to look a bit Lazy and underthoughtthrough I Know but The Royal Family tm is mostly a crowd control /Plebes management system for the political class ...LOOK A BABY!! Princes Di as Was Grand Mum...and don’t forget about those vile Welfare Scroungers who would certainly have KILLED and Eaten Princes Dianna’s Grand Sprig!!! Reduce the Welfare Budget and DO IT Now for Jesus...err, no, not that since this is the UK rather than the USA but rather They cant answer back you know and anyway they only cost each of us Tax Payers 50p per month or week or something like that and anyway .....LOOOK BABY!!

Actually the whole WHOLESOME family entertainment thing was cooked up by Queen Victories Price Albert who invented Kilts and Christmas as we know it s...definately NOT steam punk porn since it has been denounced by our noble leader oh dreary dreary me NO.

I am a little troubled by the thought that our Gracious Host is being drawn towards helping to popularise a garment that was invented by Victorian Royalty in their Quest to Mythologize Scotland as being much like England but with Kilts and dancing and such like Stuff. Very worrying...this is demonic possesion territory. I trust that no Grouse have been harmed in the construction of this Mythos?

Seriously though? On Entertainment as she is devised these days and in days of yore? Hereafter is a rapid copy and paste of an e mail that I've just sent to my brother...

On " The £10 Sky box that connects ANY TV to the web and lets you watch online catch-up shows

Sky launches Now TV box that can connect any TV set to the internet It costs £9.99 and lets you use BBC iPlayer, Spotify and Facebook on a TV Rivals including Apple TV and Roku boxes that cost from £50 " ...

It sounds interesting. Given that when I scan through the Sat Channels on my Non Sky Sat Hum-max Box - the Sky Box Box is still sitting in its box in the cargo bay - I mostly come upon standard repeats US of Americ -Con crap. It’s amazing the how many variants of C.S.I. there are... where-ever, wherein, crimes sciences investigators don't wear standard noddy suits to avoid contaminating the crime scene but DO carry GUNS!! Which tell the not very bright viewer that Of Course They ARE Police Detectives/Cops - would they Swagger About With GUN, oh, and also BADGE, to the Fore even in the office/lab, when they are conducting ever so scientific STUFF to the tune of ever so loud Rock Music if they weren't cops? Actually these latest " The Law Man RODE With The SUN There Was a JOB to BE Done and so they called for the Badge and the GUN of The Lawwww..Man!! “Series cop shows do follow much the same pattern of Shoot Ups and Gun Belt Fashion as did dictate the action in the old time Western Series as of Yore: one every evening in 1960s TV in the UK there was a western.

Ah, well, in the real world in the UK Crime Figures on violent crime are actually in the decline and this even after the Polices strength has been reduced beneath the pressure of budget cuts. Don’t know about the USA though. Mind you if I were forced to live in some parts of the USA - say Texas? - I'd feel like shooting people as a means of reducing the stress.

Obviously the £10 thingy is intended to lure the punter toward the joys of Paying to watch Sport of the Ball Battering kind...this since BT has stepped in as a competitor.

As you know I've never been interested in the various AT Premium Cost Spectator Ball Games - and positively Loath Football - but that doesn't mean that I'm not aware of the advantages of an uncommonly cheap widget so thanks for that...must see if it ties you to a contract of some sort."

How does it go? From my sadly tattered and worn memory ... “A Show That is Really A Show wakes you up with a kind of a Glow ... THATS ENTERTAINMENT”


Why not have him publish under his own name like ...

Prince Louis-Victor Pierre Raymond de Broglie (usually referred to as Louis de Broglie) who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1929 for his discovery of the wave nature of electrons.

Before universal education became the social norm, there were probably quite a few scientists from the nobility ... I wonder when/why this changed to the perception that all aristocrats are congenital idiots.


1) I picked economics with a view to future trouble. Prince Charles has caused a lot of fuss by promoting his viewpoints on architecture and various new age sillinesses, subjects far less controversial than economics. Also, the heir to the throne might have access to privileged information about the economy or politics.

2) Economics has more scope for biased judgement of merit than physics, and the heir to the throne is a bigger fish than a French aristocrat. Ask J.K. Rowling about how to get an unbiased judgement of your latest work.

3) My Father, born 1922 in rural N. Ireland, remembers with some bitterness aristocrats and landowners who expected deference and more purely as the right of their birth. Such people would also be giving orders to their underlings without any experience of doing the work they were ordering. In these circumstances, getting a reputation as a buffoon is coming off lightly.


Serious question:

Do you really feel that way: that stereotyping aristocrats as buffoons is letting them off lightly?

Or, are you saying that the history you learned at your father's knee provides an insight as to why such stereotyping might have happened?

The reason for my question: I'm curious about how cultural stereotypes are transmitted through generations and how long they're maintained. A key part, I think, is whether the next generation continues to live in the same area (i.e., N.Ireland in your case) therefore remains invested/becomes more entrenched in that area's history or has moved away geographically as well as from continued reinforcement of the stereotype (your Dad's war 'stories') far away to North America, Australia, etc.



He could opt out. But probably won't because by the time he could all his experiences will have shaped him so he won't want to. But then again, is anyone else different? I mean we all have the freedom to choose a different path, but it's really only the freedom to do what we've been trained to do.

If someone can see you and affect you they can condition you, given enough time, unless you make an effort to resist. Any patterned response behavior, such as regularly resisting in a certain way, can be conditioned and bent back to compliance. But unpatterned totally random behavior is costly in terms of doing things. The only way to resist is, counterintuitively, to self program. You plan out a series of actions ahead of time and stick to the plan regardless of what happens.


re: The only way to resist is, counterintuitively, to self program...

... Sigh ...

The only valid/rational reason for not programming out the adolescent phase of human development.


The Police have been told off for just happening to put number-plate recognition cameras on every road entering Royston in Hertfordshire.

That Now TV box from Sky looks interesting, but they say it needs more internet bandwidth than I know I can get. 2.5Mb/s Oh well, it won't break the bank, but it wouldn't surprise me if a good many end up in the back of a drawer alongside the remote you don't recognise, but might be for a VCR.

There's always been a lot of low-quality photography around. Estate agents had cameras with wide-angle lenses, and that usually needed an SLR ot other serious camera but what I saw, they were set up and used as essentially snapshot cameras. I don't know the equivalent focal lengths, but phone cameras are more than good enough for those little pictures in their office window, or in a newspaper advert. We maybe don't realise how little quality they need.

How many pixels per inch does a newspaper print a photograph at? You maybe only need 2 megapixels from the camera. I have a compact which records 14Mp (yes, I know, noise) by that's an easy 6x digital zoom on top of what the lens does. That's somewhere over 800mm, but camera-shake will be hellish.

The old Pentax DSLR I have has about half the sensor resolution, and can mount a bigger lump of glass, but I am not sure the results would be hugely better.

No, phone cameras don't usually have the optical zoom. That does make a big difference.

And, finally, Royal Princes have been getting military experience for a long time. Most countries, pre-WW1, had an excess of Princes. Take the Mountbattens as an example. But there seems to have been a shift in Victorian times from relatively easy promotion/appointment to senior positions. It maybe came with the end of such things as the purchase of commissions in the Army.


The way things are moving in the UK there seems to be a political movement opposed to the idea that people can do something different to what their parents did.

All very nice if you're the newly-born Prince George, not so good if your parents are at the other end of the social scale.


I just did some rough measurements on my paper; I reckon they're printing at about 300DPI, but the pictures I was examining are about 6" each way. Figure that on a 1" sensor, and that's 1800^2 pixels presuming no interpolation or rate filtering. 3.2MPixels is well within the capabilities of a modern cameraphone.


" judging by the previous iteration a British Republic in form as well as practicality [ We live in a republic with an hereditary head-of-state, like the Netherlands, Sweden & Norway – see also e; @ 31] it will be a disaster, with bullying nannies, who make Salmond look nice to know, in charge."

The Commonwealth wasn't quite a republic; "Lord Protector" means "Regent." And Oliver Cromwell behaved more like a king than like a president.

It was farther from being a republic than the USSR was from being a workers' and peasants' state.


just happening to put number-plate recognition cameras on every road entering Royston

Not exactly 'just happening' - that implies they didn't realise they were doing it till they'd finished.

No, it was a deliberate experiment in seeing whether they could get away with it - happily they couldn't, but it's taken a couple of years since the announcement till the point they've been told to stop it.

The silly thing is, they wouldn't actually answer when asked where the cameras are, though anyone driving in or out can tell fairly easily.


I understand from my Father's stories how the stereotype of the upper class twit might have got started. I believe that an alternative reality in which the aristocracy were blamed for everything wrong with this country and for attempting to conspire with Hitler during appeasement would be plausible. I don't believe that stereotyping anybody's descendants in any way could ever amount to a just punishment so "got off likely" was a poor choice of words to express something like "in the circumstances this is not the worst case outcome".

In the N.Ireland I grew up in many of the great houses of the aristocracy were run by the National Trust as tourist attractions. Prime Minister Jim Callaghan on the mainland appeared to be presiding over an inevitable decline into syndicalist dsytopia while the troubles - then at their height - were opening an even quicker route to chaos. My Father's stories and politics looked out of date - though if they fossilized in 1945 mine may have fossilized in 1975 - different, but not necessarily better.


The trouble with the children of aristocracy is this:

The intelligent, energetic ones have privilege and lots of educational opportunities to better themselves, and generally use them to do well.

The unintelligent or the lazy, however, have privilege to fall back on, and generally uses it to do well.

Humans breed back towards the norm, so the unintelligent and lazy outnumber the intelligent and energetic (as is the case for everyone else).

A charming urban legend that may or may not have a grain of truth behind it holds that the Chinese bureaucracy had a partial solution to this; children of nobility inherited the next rank down from their parents, and had to pass the civil service exam or achieve promotion via the military in order to maintain their status. I wouldn't have anything like as much of a problem with hereditary nobility if it worked like this. Alas, I don't think such a system would be stable -- the first thing most parents do once their own needs are secure is look to secure their children's continuing status.


I suspect phonecams will catch up with where DSLRs are today eventually, but first they'll need to turn the entire rear side of the phone into a sapphire-coated CCD, then do omnifocus (to do away with the need for a lens system). However, that requires insane amounts of image processing by current standards, and doubtless DSLRs will have moved on by the time their smaller brethren catch up ...

I, too, think that phonecams will catch up with the current DSLRs in most respects that matter. However, the physics do not change: in some respects larger is better, always, and cameras with good optics and larger sensors can use just the same image processing as smaller cameras.

An other thing to consider is the maximum quality needed. There is some limit after which improvements in the captured image quality do not bring that much to the final viewed picture. For example, I suspect that one of the reasons for the Chicago newspaper to dispense with the photographers and just use iPhones for images is not the absolute quality of the iPhone pictures compared to DLSR pictures, but that the iPhone pictures are good enough.

I am personally expecting those image processing cameras to become affordable: the best camera is the one you carry with you, and nowadays the phone's camera is the only one I routinely have with me, so it'll have to do.

My biggest peeve with our other cameras (a couple of Canon Ixuses) is that they don't perform well in low light conditions. That and the large depth of field are the reasons I've been considering for buying a DSLR, but I don't want to lug one around.


That, and if you want to take pictures of things that move.

The time from pressing the button to the shutter snapping was below my threshold of perception. Alas, I've yet to use digital camera that responds that quickly. I've taken a lot of high-resolution digital shots of where drag cars were sitting a few tenths of a second ago... empty race track and a bit of tire smoke.


Part 5 - I've heard the same story from a number of independent sources. Of course, that doesn't mean that it's true but multiple sources are usually more accurate than a single source, particularly since some of mine stated that everyone, even the bureaucrats' children, had to pass competitive examinations just to gain entry to their Civil Service.

203: 200 and 201 - I'd agree with Mikko about lens and sensor sizes.

Also TRX, "Top Fuel" dragsters (for those unfamiliar, these typically have about eight thousand brake horsepower, or between 40 and 100 times more than most European road cars, and accelerate from rest to three hundred MPH in quarter of a mile). I've been told that they move faster than spectators can turn their heads when the lights go.


Belated thanks to every one who answered my passport question. I know the answer might have seemed obviously Googloable but when someone makes mention of "complex constitutional reasons" I begin to suspect there's nuance that Yahoo! Answers won't be able to illuminate. And on that note, it's interesting that British passports don't come under legislation! Would not have guessed.

(On the main topic I think I'm more on side with those who have been suggesting that there aren't many rude technological shocks for future royal babies. I think there's enough of a socially moderating force that accompanies increasing photo-sharing/social media that will make previously unforgivable transgressions more acceptable. Glass houses and that. It's hard to keep dirty secrets when they're constantly being aired.)


I believe that every prospective parent capable of understanding "Regression toward the mean" should have it explained to them, in case their children are not capable of understanding it. I hadn't tied this up with over-production of elites before, but the two are clearly linked.


And then there's the Rothschild family, which seemed to believe in semi-selective breeding.

Regression towards the mean is a normal issue, but it's not "blended inheritance." If it was (as Darwin incorrectly thought), we'd all be average by now. We're not.

Talent is a matter of genes plus environment plus luck. Someone like Genghis Khan (or Tokugawa, or Napoleon, or Stalin, or Mao) had a fairly hellish life gaining power, and their experience taught them what they needed to rule. It's effectively impossible for them to give their children the same upbringing, because they're princes. The challenges they face while keeping power are different than those required to gain power.

I agree that the penalties for being useless were far less for the aristocracy than for the peasants, but they still were (and are) there. Britain, for instance, has the charming primogeniture system, which is good in that it keeps estates together (rather than being split up among offspring), but the other children have to either depend on the magnanimity of the heir or make their own way in the world.

While I don't know China, I believe the Korean system was that, if someone acquired high rank through the exams, the family could keep that rank for three generations. If no one passed the exam in that time, the family lost the status and became commoners again.

However, the Chinese supposedly had the quote that the first generation made the fortune, the second generation kept the fortune, and the third generation lost the fortune.


The American version of that Chinese quote is "shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations". (Though it's not universally true, as any student of the society pages in major papers here would be well aware: the "Old Money" of the DuPonts, Astors, Cabots, and the like is quite a bit older than that...)



199: Humans breed back towards the norm, .

206: Regression towards the mean is a normal issue, but it's not "blended inheritance." If it was (as Darwin incorrectly thought), we'd all be average by now. We're not.

The regress toward the mean exists, but only because the mean is a very fast-moving target. I really, really dislike the 'regression toward the mean' argument because it is often misinterpreted as saying that society is static overall. It's not. Apart from our current blip (which in hindsight might not be such a big blip) each generation usually improves its lot, that is, it's been healthier, with a longer life span, fewer diseases, safer (fewer murders/wars), has more of its needs fulfilled (more people i.e., women and children actually considered to be 'people'), etc.

Opportunity ...

I believe that there are a few countries in Europe where higher learning has been and remains completely free. That is, if you're smart enough to get in, tuition is completely paid for by the state. How has that worked out in terms of overall benefit to society? Have these economies/countries been proportionally more successful than economies/countries where higher education means long-term debt? (Time scale: 1945 and on ... I'm guessing yes, but I don't have any numbers.)


I believe that there are a few countries in Europe where higher learning has been and remains completely free.

That was the case here (in the UK) until roughly 1992. It's now been privatized to almost the same degree as the USA (except in Scotland, where tuition fees for a first degree remain free).

I'm not impressed by the apparent effects of fee-paying on the quality of new graduates. Or their choice of subjects, which are generally fine-tuned to improve their earnings potential in the short term (while paying off their debt) rather than to broaden their minds or even to equip them for the employment long haul (by giving them the tools to assimilate the new skills they'll need throughout their subsequent 40-50 year working life).


Para 3 - Regression to mean is true, but it can only be applied across entire populations. The error is in attempting to apply it to individual families.

Equally, but seemingly oppositely, most "accident black spots" except those which can be fixed by better road engineering (say removing an adverse camber, opening out a short sightline) are "generated" by examining a year or 2's figures and will "go away" if you examine them over say 10 years.

What this has to do with Monarchy, or very big lenses, is beyond me.


Off topic but regarding SF authors, I am attending Jay Lake's premortem wake tonight. "Fuck cancer," indeed. Sideways and without lube.

“You know the kind of cancer you eventually get better from? Thats not the kind I have.” -- Molock to Rorschach, Watchmen


"I believe that there are a few countries in Europe where higher learning has been and remains completely free. That is, if you're smart enough to get in, tuition is completely paid for by the state. How has that worked out in terms of overall benefit to society? Have these economies/countries been proportionally more successful than economies/countries where higher education means long-term debt? (Time scale: 1945 and on ... I'm guessing yes, but I don't have any numbers.)"

Note that in the USA the era of very cheap college education was also an era of explosive growth and massive increase in technology and productivity.


My apologies - it's not Kari who had a cat with that name, it is a mutual friend. I only realised my error when said friend mentioned the animal this evening.

(This is of very minor importance in the grand scheme of things, but an error uncorrected niggles.)


Possibly a better way to put it is that, if you're one in a million, you've still got close to a one in a million chance of having a kid as talented as you, and close to a 999,999 to one chance of having a kid that's less talented. But that's not the same as saying that everyone regresses to the mean. It's more like saying that lightning rarely strikes twice on the same point. The thing is, absent genetic engineering or inbreeding and a lot of highly specialized education, the offspring isn't going to be just like you, no matter who you are.

To pick one oft-maligned example, Jaden Smith isn't a bad child actor, although he's not a great one. His problem is that his father is Will Smith, so his acting is always going to be compared negatively to his father's talent. Families like the Barrymores, the Fondas, or the Bridges are quite rare, and even there, they have differential success across generations.


You're talking about landlords in rural Ireland; while your correspondant's father was born after the Land War, there were hundreds of years where the job carried the small but real risk of being assassinated or other unpleasantness, so being thought of as a buffoon is definitely getting off lightly. Ireland in general has had an uncomfortable relationship with aristocracy.


The student loan is for all practical purposes a graduate tax. Repayments are linked solely to pay the amount nominally owed is mostly irrelevant, as unless you are on very high pay you will still owe some when it is automatically written off after thirty years. The US system is very different, that is a subsidised loan on commercial terms, repayment is linked to the outstanding balance.


If you're looking for good low-light performance and control over depth-of-field there are compact cameras out there that will do the job but you'll pay more for them. See the Panasonic LX-7 for example, a large-area 10MP sensor and a F1.4 Leica lens gives it very good low-light capability. The tradeoff is a limited zoom range (24-90mm), not surprisingly but it is very pocketable.


The switch from film to digital has led to a lot of changes. Video cameras, for instance, are almost dead as a separate consumer product. You want full HD? Bridge cameras such as the Fuji Finepix range can give you it, with image stabilisation and an impressive optical zoom. Some TV productions have used DSLRs, though it may still be a bit of a gimmick.

The top-end Fuji Finepix will record video, lower quality, at 480 fps. It's got the usual quality problems of high pixel counts from a small sensor. Is the quality better or worse than a camcorder of similar price? The big difference may be the ergonomics, rather than optics or electronics.


"Top Fuel" dragsters"

And they are really interesting to watch. Especially at night. :)

But yes, you really don't want to be at the starting line. A few 100 feet down the track is better as you have time to start swiveling your head before they pass.


The US system is very different, that is a subsidised loan on commercial terms, repayment is linked to the outstanding balance.

But, as I'm discovering, it's more complicated than that. You apply for loans/grants and get awarded multiple levels of "reward". Some outright grants, some subsidized loans, some unsubsidized loans. With some other flavors tossed in. (My son's letter isn't at hand just now.) But they seem to dole out grants to folks making way above the poverty line. In non trivial amounts. Which surprised me. My son just got most of his $10K plus tuition costs taken care of with grants. My daughter less but she also saves her money and thus looked better off. What I want to find out is do these grants come out of the budget for the school or are they subsidized by future tax payers. And I'd love to see the formulas used to figure out these aid packages. (I know they might be available if I Google but I haven't had time since these letters arrived.

A recent minor scandal with a recent governor and his wife showed us who tried to "follow the money" just how obtuse higher ed funding is in this country.


Er, IME 300 to 500 feet down-range is about where "Funny Cars" usually hit following a bad launch.


@ 158 et seq The Danish, Dutch etc Royal families have certain areas, where their activities are “off limits” to the press, for family privacy – that long-lens shot of “Kate” taken some time back would not be allowed, for instance. There is a “gentleman’s agreement” & foreign paparazzi who break this code are then shunned – seems to work (ish)

Guthrie @ 162 Precisely.

P H-K @ 171 Here too. A lot of the “expense” of a royal family would still be an expense of a presidency & the historic buildings would also still have to be maintained. Also, the monarch & “the Firm” hand over their income from property etc to the state & get the “civil list” back from the state – the latter is less than the former. There is an ongoing discussion as to whether “The Firm” would be better off (for itself) if it was to “live of its own” … i.e. take NO civil list & pay taxes, as if it was a normal business. But .. you can only do this at the beginning of a reign. IIRC wasn’t queen Margarethe one of JRRT’s pupils & did illos for one version of LotR, under the name: “Ingrahild Grathmer”

DP @ 175 Points noted … but also @ 182 … [ & 186 ] – it comes down to trust & competence, as usual, unfortunately. I’ve just returned from my usual 5 days dancing & drinking in Germany (YAY!) … and the “security theatre” & total CRAP on Eurostar … it’s a fucking TRAIN – they DON’T search the cars & lorries on the shuttle, nor do they do the same for the alpine base-tunnels … grrr ….

Arnold @ 187 Actually “the Kilt” etc was re-invented by Sir Walter Scott & Albert took to it like a duck to water … afterwards, because Scott was operating in the 1820’s when Viccy was a very small girl.

ATT @ 194 Yes, & the labour party are to blame for this. Social mobility has been dropping since two things happened: “Grammar” schools were abolished & the comprehensives (almost all of them) had “mixed-ability” teaching, rather than setting or streaming – the latter is now dying & one hopes that the trend will reverse. Selecting for intelligence in education was seen as “elitist” & therefore to be stopped. Yes, it really was that fucking stupid. See also Charlie @ 209 Even more of the same stupid.

dsgood @ 196 Thank you, that was exactly my point.

Charlie @ 199 Does humanity really breed back towards the norm? How do you explain a family like the Darwins, in that case? The Thais have a similar system ( or used to ) so, in Britain a Duke’s heir would be a Marquess, then an Earl & so on – unless they earned a “re-promotion” so to speak.

TRX @ 210 Yes, serious problem. My ancient Olympus OM-1 still has that virtue (plus some amazing glass at the front end) [ Nojay @ 217 … f/1.4 Leitz lens … dribble, drool … ]


ACtually Greg, the kilt was already in use by Highland regiments. What Scott et al did was popularise it and attach it to a romantic view of the kilted highlander. It was one of the earlier such re-branding campaigns to be carried out and was rather effective, and also served to bolster the usurping hanoverians. (Although such practises can be seen all the way back into the medieval period and the wars of the roses, and probably before then)

Also the old idea that the inventor of the small kilt was an english mill owner isn't true either, there's evidence for small kilts from all sorts of places long before any englishman employed people in his mill.

As for schools, getting rid of grammar schools wasn't a bad idea at all. The problem more recently has been target driven teaching to the test because of new labours managerialist ideology and the damage done to teaching by it.


guthrie IF they ghad got rid of grammar schools & replaced them with real comprehensives, with internal setting &/or streaming (i.e. selection by ability inside the schools) there would have been no problem at all. But that is not what was done. Comprehensive came to mean: "mixed-ability teaching" right across the spectrum & it was & is a disaster.


If this unimpressive photograph on the left is the best the reporters with iPhones could do, I would say that the Chicago newspaper made a mistake. But I wouldn't be surprised if photographers with iPhones would do a better job than reporters with DSLR's and a bag full of good lenses. About the hardware, research labs are coming up with interesting ways to use higher pixel counts and post-processing, that don't really fit the DSLR mold but mitigate many of the limitations of the camera phone form factor.


Greg: Does humanity really breed back towards the norm? How do you explain a family like the Darwins, in that case?

Remember that general intelligence isn't a function solely of genetics -- a lot of it is determined by upbringing and education, and epigenetic factors (e.g. maternal nutrition) play into it. And don't underestimate the nutrition effects! (The iodine finding is very striking -- adding iodine to salt in the early 20th century has been credited with raising the average IQ of Americans by about 10 points on average; lead in petrol is currently seen as a likely cause of the 1950-1975 crime wave, and its abolition as a reason for the subsequent drop in violent crime. And so on.)

But yes, we breed back towards the norm, and for every Darwin family there's one like the Einsteins. (Albert's progeny were by no means dumb -- Hans made full professor, and Eduard was on course to become a psychiatrist before schizophrenia struck -- but they didn't stand out quite as much as their father.)


Mixed ability comprehensives, while performing less well than setted or streamed comprehensives, consistently outperformed the split school system. It turns out that dumping 80-90% of pupils in sink schools brought down the overall performance to such an extent that the grammar/secondary modern system has the worst performance overall. Able teachers tended to go to work in grammar schools, leaving the pupils who could most benefit from a good teacher without access to good teachers.

Quite apart from this was the negative effect on social mobility of the provision of far more grammar school places in middle class areas compared to working class areas. A working class child might be consigned to a secondary modern and told they were a failure when a middle class child with worse marks would go to a grammar school. Simply due to LEAs in middle class areas tending to have a higher number of grammar school places relative to population. Transferring into a grammar school later was essentially impossible, they were always full and any parent is going to oppose their child being relegated to ma secondary modern, they'll argue their child is settled at their current school and all their friends are there. This was normally successful without relegation there couldn't be promotion resulting in the intended transfer at 13 did not and could not work.

Grammar schools were always full, if you had 1,000 grammar school places per annum in your system then the top 1,000 in the 11 plus got those places anyone else went to the secondary moderns.


Brett Dunbar @ 227 Not arguing with that. You did notice my proviso that: IF Comprehensive schools have proper internal streaming THEN They produce good educational results ELSE They produce shit results - especially for the brighter/more able pupils.


This is what has gorn worng, in fact ... the mad obsession with "mixed-ability" teaching ... a total educational nightmare.


I went to a Grammar school.

It was "better" than the Secondary Modern, but that didn't make it a good school. It underperformed compared to other Grammar Schools.

Comprehensives, I suspect, managed to combine the bad features from the previous generation. Even if they did have some advantages.


Greg- what brett is arguing is not totally relevant to what you are, insofar as better overall outcomes with a comprehensive system, even if not streamed (I though they'd stopped streaming decades ago myself), especially with regards to social outcomes and the not throwing non-grammar pupils on the scrapheap thing.
Plus it's been what, 40 odd years since grammar schools were abolished, you'd think there would be actual negative things clearly visible now, whereas by contrast we're currently led in both politics and the finance industry by people who went to the right schools and universities and still manage to fuck it all up, indicating just how little intelligence alone has to do with things.


guthrie Again, I don't disagree with you. An awful lot of talent was wasted under the old system. But, it is pathetically obvious that mixed-ability teaching is a disaster, but is only "now" (i.e. the past 10-15 years or so) being slowly dismantled. And negative things are visible, as they always were ... there seems to be something worng with "British" management - as the current atate of the Brit motor industry shows, now it is not Brit-managed.

Scotland, of course always did do education differently.


In fact it is possible to do a fairly direct comparison between the four different systems, as different LEAs switched at various points they co-existed for decades.

The conclusions of studies into this issue are as follows:

First place Comprehensive Schools with streaming.

Second place Comprehensive Schools with per subject setting.

Third place Comprehensive schools with mixed ability classes.

Last place Grammar schools and Secondary moderns.

Comprehensives with mixed ability classes do worse than comprehensives where there is internal sorting by ability, but still do better than the grammar/secondary modern system. Switching to a comprehensive mixed ability is an improvement, it isn't optimal, but calling it a disaster is a massive exaggeration.



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This page contains a single entry by Charlie Stross published on July 23, 2013 2:21 PM.

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