Royal baby announcement forces House of Windsor to adapt tradition for the internet age

(CBS News) The announcement of the birthof the third-in-line to the British throne on Monday was meticulously planned by Buckingham Palace. The quaint, traditional plan called for a written notice to be taken from the hospital to Buckingham Palace -- under police guard -- and placed on an easel for the masses to view.

However, shortly after Duchess Catherine gave birth to a son at 4:24 p.m., the palace shifted gears, changing their plans at the last minute to put out an electronic press release in addition to the written notice outside the palace.

Members of the public gather outside Buckingham Palace to read the easel displaying the announcement of the birth of a son to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on July 23, 2013, in London.
Getty

Royal watchers are calling the move yet another indication of the British royal family's efforts to straddle deeply-held traditions with the modern internet age, and their capacity to adapt.

"What we're seeing now is the illusion of democratic monarchy," royal historian David Starkey told CBS News' Mark Phillips.

"Every royal birth has been 'the people's birth.' Every princes has been 'the people's princess' but it's always mythical," Starkey explained. "But of course, this time, it is a little bit different -- because Kate is a little bit different.

Kate's long lineage of Durham coal miners and petite bourgeois is not exactly what the house of Windsor has been accustomed to.

Indeed the long-term future of the royal House of Windsor -- a royal line that traces its heritage back more than 1,500 years -- is now in the hands of a prince with "common" blood.

But Starkey believes the Windsor family will hold strong for another six decades or so, when its newest member -- Kate and William's son -- likely becomes king.

"The House of Windsor has mastered the art of survival," Starkey said.

"It's effectively not doing too much. This constant cry [of], 'Oh we want innovation' [but] the Queen understood if you stand around, saying nothing, keep strong, behave properly as it were -- it's called keeping your head whilst all others around are loosing theirs... It's called being there."

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