By Julie Muhlstein Herald Columnist
Gareth Wade is an unabashed monarchist. A son of the British Isles, he is thrilled about the birth of His Royal Highness Prince George of Cambridge.
“It’s almost like control-alt-delete on the royal family moving forward, with Kate and William and the new baby. It’s a reboot of the old establishment,” the Lynnwood man said.
Wade, 50, is a member of the British-American Business Council of the Pacific Northwest. The group turned its summer networking night, held Thursday at Seattle’s Republic Bar, into a royal baby celebration. Members could take a guess at the newborn’s name, in advance via Facebook, for a chance to win a bottle of champagne.
Wade was way off with one prediction. Before Monday’s royal birth, he thought the first child of Prince William and Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, would be a girl.
“I was so certain,” said Wade, a native of Edinburgh, Scotland. Once the baby boy arrived, Wade was right about the other big question. “I’m thinking it’s going to be George,” he said Monday, shortly after the birth was announced.
Sure enough, on Wednesday the world learned that the youngest heir to the British throne would be called George Alexander Louis. Wade wasn’t surprised.
“It’s classic and traditional. I think it’s a good name for this little chap,” he said Thursday. “It pays tribute to his grandfather, because George is one of Charles’ names, and it pays tribute to George VI, the queen’s father.”
Calling Alexander “a bit of a surprise,” Wade said he suspects it’s a nod to the queen, whose name is Elizabeth Alexandra Mary. Louis, he said, is a clear tribute to Lord Louis Mountbatten, a grand-uncle and mentor to Prince Charles.
Wade moved here a decade ago for business, and is married to an American. He remains a fan of the royals. He remembers getting a day off from school for Princess Anne’s first wedding in 1973.
“As a monarchist I’m particularly excited that a child has been welcomed into the royal family,” he said. And baby George is a male heir, which still matters.
In 2011, leaders of 16 British Commonwealth countries approved changes that would give a first-born daughter of any future monarch precedence over younger brothers in succession to the throne. The unwieldy process of changing constitutions and succession laws in all those countries wasn’t finished in time for the royal birth.
“If it had been a girl— I’m not sure,” Wade said. “Now they don’t have to worry about it.”
Wade said his father served in the Royal Navy with Queen Elizabeth’s husband Prince Philip. “Love them or hate them, the royals were part of the social fabric when I was growing up,” he said. Wade knows many don’t share his enthusiasm.
Geoffrey Wall, an Englishman who owns the Piccadilly Circus Pub in Snohomish, sees the British monarchy as a costly relic of the past.
“I’m not what you would call a royalist. They’re basically welfare. Prince Charles has never worked a day in his life,” said Wall, 72, who ran the Piccadilly Circus gift shop in Snohomish before opening the pub nine years ago.
Wall was born in Grays, Essex, outside of London. During World War II, his family moved to Manchester as the Germans bombed London. He left school at 14, and by 17 was playing professional soccer. That career took him to Australia, South Africa and South America before he settled in the Seattle area.
Prince George’s birth has done nothing to soften his feelings toward the royals. “To tell you the truth, I really have no interest — the reason being everybody has babies every day,” Wall said. He believes most British people share his views. “Over the years people have gotten fed up with supporting the royal family,” Wall said.
We aren’t loyal subjects, but here across the pond Americans are still fascinated by royal Brits, especially the tiny new one.
In 2011, knitters on the staff at the Everett Public Library crafted the wedding party of Prince William and Kate Middleton, following patterns in a book called “Knit Your Own Royal Wedding.”
The knitted figures cleaned up at the Evergreen State Fair, winning four ribbons, said Kim Payne, a librarian who worked on the project. Fiona Goble, who created the first book, is out with a new pattern, “Knit Your Own Royal Baby.”
“We’ve been talking about it,” said Payne, who expects the library knitters to soon update the collection.
Library technician Carol Ellison has written an Everett Public Library blog about her reading preferences as an Anglophile. Born in 1981, the year before Prince William’s birth, she said “all the girls in our class considered him our prince.” Ellison said it stung a bit to see his wedding, “even though I’m happily married.
Payne doesn’t believe it when someone says they couldn’t care less about the royals. “I think they are secretly following it,” she said.
Ever the monarchist, Wade said he saw on Twitter a comment “that the royal birth kept people’s interest in labour longer that the Labour Party in the UK could.”
“I do think that Wills and Kate have just bought the monarchy another 80 years,” he said.
Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; firstname.lastname@example.org.