The as yet unnamed third-in-line to the British throne emerged into the world at 11:34 pm Chinese time on 22 July. With yesterday’s print already set, the Chinese press today benefited from a luxury not enjoyed by their colleagues in Britain: time to consider their response to the birth of the first child of Prince William and Kate Middleton. As his birth was preceded by a series of earthquakes in western China’s Gansu province, most editors did not see fit to adorn their front pages with pictures of the new royal baby. Most, but not all.
Six O’Clock This Morning (今晨六点), a newspaper based in Yantai, Shandong province, divided its front page into two. On the top is a photo of the first baby born in the Gansu earthquake area after the disaster, “The Hope of the Gansu Earthquake Zone”; while below the London Town Crier is captured in full voice, announcing the birth of “The Hope of the British Royal Family.”
The two babies, who were born within seven minutes of one another, feature on the front page of the Changsha Evening News (长沙晚报). This newspaper ran with the headline “Earthquake, Royal Family Both Welcome Babies.” While “Earthquake Baby” and the “Royal Baby” shared the limelight in these papers, they also enjoyed individual attention in other papers. A photograph of journalists and royal fans awaiting the royal baby’s first public appearance dominates today’s edition of East Asia Economic News (东亚经贸新闻), while “Earthquake Baby” is the headline of the Beijing Times (京华时报), superimposed on a photo of the first child born in Dingxi, Gansu province, after the earthquake struck.
The Changsha Evening News chose to focus its reporting on the financial implications of the prince’s birth, running with the headline, “Royal Family Welcomes Son, Merchants Welcome Money.” According to the paper, the birth of the third-in-line heir to the British throne will bring an extra £372 million or $572 million (US) to UK sales income. How, the paper wonders, can the birth of one baby provide an economic boost worth several hundred billion pounds? First and foremost, many thousands of tourists have come in anticipation of the birth and will continue to flock to Britain. The newspaper also quotes Daily Beast columnist Dan Gross, who joked that a boom will have been felt simply due to the arrival of the world press corps in London, who flocked in on intercontinental flights and pitched up at high-end hotels. This “commercial feast ” has also been particularly beneficial to certain industries.
The Changsha Evening News reports that the gambling industry has made a killing from the birth. First, people placed bets on the gender and time of birth, while bets are continuing to come in on what the baby will be named. The total sum of bets has already surpassed £15 million or $23 million (US). Aside from the gambling industry, the birth has also provided free advertising, raising the profile of Britain and British companies throughout the world.
Both Six O’Clock This Morning and Changsha Evening News also note that the royal baby is the most important birth for the British monarchy in over 100 years, as it is the first time in this period that heirs to the throne of three generations are alive at the same time.