The royal wedding, the Queen’s diamond jubilee and most recently the birth of a new heir this week – in short, it has been a good couple of years for the British monarchy.
But how are such events perceived in China, a region which ousted its last emperor in 1912 and which was never part of the British Empire (bar Hong Kong)?
As with William and Kate’s wedding in 2011 the reaction to their son’s arrival has been positive, though it didn’t initially generate massive amounts of online discussion. On Tuesday, when China woke up to discover the birth, the issue trended on Sina Weibo for a while but quickly dropped off the top 10 list.
“Really excited! It is a happy royal story,” wrote one weibo user, while another simply said: “Congratulations! I wish the mother and baby health and long life.”
Another pointed out that the new arrival will have a long wait to become king. “Your great grandma has a long life and your grandpa is still waiting to be king…” wrote the contributor, evidently with a good knowledge of British royalty.
For a republican country, few displayed anti-royalist sentiment, while women marvelled that Kate was allowed to leave hospital so soon. Chinese women often zuo yuezi or “sit a month” at home or in hospital after giving birth.
Unlike in the UK, where Kate was hailed for coming out in a dress that showed off her post-pregnancy bump, Chinese netizens seem to have expected her to act more like the celebrities who often squeeze into ‘shapewear’ for their first post-baby media greet.
Other netizens were a bit surprised that William “handled the little prince like a basket of vegetables” during the photo call, although they were more complimentary that he seems to have changed the little boy’s first nappy.
“English men are very impressive,” wrote one woman. “Maybe I should go there to try find one,” she added.
Renewed interest online was piqued later in the week when the royal parents announced their son’s name: George Alexander Louis.
One wit said this must have been chosen with the luxury goods world in mind. “George Armani + Alexander McQueen + Louis Vuitton,” he wrote. Another complained it was a boring name, as common as if a Chinese called their son Wang Xiaoming (arguably the most common Chinese name). He would have preferred Arthur, in case you’re wondering…
Still, after two years of news about the British monarchy, there is also the occasional sign that all the pageantry surrounding the royals has made the institution more appealing to Chinese tourists.
“Britain has so much history,” gushed one person, explaining that this was why she would be visiting the UK later in the year. Although when pressed on exactly what she meant by the comment, the visitor soon admitted that she was also very excited about the shopping.
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