19 July 2013
It's time to wait
Duke and Duchess of Cambridge Credit: PrinceofWales.gov.uk
The world is waiting.
Duchess of Cambridge Kate, 31, is expected to give birth any minute. Or at least she is at the time of going to press. It's possible that by the time this drops into your inbox, the Prince or Princess of Cambridge will have entered our world.
We already know that the child will be a future heir to the throne. In October 2011, the Commonwealth agreed to scrap the laws dating back more than 300 years that gave younger brothers precedence in the line of succession over girls and which had also prohibited anyone in the line of succession from marrying a Catholic. So if Kate and William have a girl, she will one day be Queen.
The Prince or Princess of Cambridge is destined to be the constitutional monarch of 16 sovereign states and their territories and dependencies, head of the 54-member Commonwealth of Nations and the Supreme Governor of the Church of England.
Of course, the birth of this child will not carry the significance that it would have done in times past. The child is unlikely to determine the course of history. In a constitutional monarchy, a monarch acts as head of state within the guidelines of a constitution and parliament.
Nonetheless, the world's media is in a state of frenzy. Since Wednesday, the Sun newspaper has had a camera streaming live coverage from St Mary's Hospital in Central London. The monitor is capturing all the comings and goings into and out of the Lindo Wing where the Duchess of Cambridge will give birth. Hundreds of fans, journalists, photographers and technicians have already set up shop there to await her — and her firstborn's — arrival.
Waiting is an unusual experience for us. We expect swift delivery and instant gratification. Thus we have instant loans. Instant messaging. Instant coffee. Instant downloads. Instant replays. Instant results. We order fast food. When something doesn't come quickly enough, we get annoyed.
In truth, though, waiting is sometimes all we can do. Noah waited 120 years from the time God told him to build the ark until the time of the flood. Abraham waited 25 years for the birth of his son Isaac. The Israelites waited 430 years before God delivered them from the Egyptians. Moses waited in the desert for 40 years before he was sent by God to rescue the Israelites. They, in turn, waited for 40 years in the wilderness before entering the land of Canaan. Jesus waited until he was 30 to start his public ministry. The apostles waited 10 days after Jesus had ascended before they received the Spirit. And we wait for the creation of a new heaven and earth. The Kingdom of God is here but it is still to break in fully.
Whatever our views of monarchy, the miracle of human life stands as an important challenge to our desire for instant gratification and any belief in human omnipotence. Waiting is part of the human experience and reminds us – in case we were in any doubt – that God is God and we are not.
Paul Woolley is executive director of charity at Bible Society