Monarchy opponents rolled their eyes Monday as giddy TV news anchors struggled to contain their enthusiasm over the birth of the first child of William Mountbatten-Windsor and his wife Kate.
The baby boy's birth shouldn't be receiving so much attention, according to activists working to convert the United Kingdom from a hereditary monarchy into a democratic republic.
"We want to encourage the media and the public to think about the very serious questions a royal birth raises about Britain and our political system," said a statement posted online by the pro-democracy group Republic. "And we want to speak for the millions of people in Britain whose voices are being drowned out by the disproportionate, superficial and intrusive coverage of the royal birth."
The group has a two-pronged critique: that being born into public office is undemocratic, and that it's also unfair to the newborn. "Doesn't this royal child have the same rights as the rest of us? The right to choose their own lifestyle, career, religion and beliefs?" asks the group.
Republic is selling bibs, t-shirts, mugs and pins with the catchphrase "I was #bornequal."
At least one news website feels the pain of irritated republicans. The Guardian is allowing users to block content about the baby's birth, as it did during the 2011 royal wedding of its parents, where police rounded up citizens in London who went off-script and planned to protest, rather than celebrate, the events.
Republicans who feel their opinions are shut out of the media spectacle are sharing their points of view on social media.
— Republic (@RepublicStaff) July 22, 2013
"@David_Cameron we're not all celebrating this baby. Wish it no harm but monarchy is an anachronism," one Twitter user informed the U.K.'s prime minister.
"Get the numbers in the right order!" tweeted another. "It's 2013 NOT 1320 - every child should be #bornEqual Time for democracy. Time to grow up."
At least one Twitter user suggested that the press was misleading the public about public revelry, saying there was actually "a relatively small number of people at Buckingham Palace" despite media commentary to the contrary.
Other users complained about the fawning news coverage of this particular baby and the comparative neglect of children living in poverty.
Fifteen countries aside from the U.K. have the British monarch as their head of state. Two of the largest, Canada and Australia, have relatively high public support for ditching their hereditary head of state.
A poll released April 30 by Angus Reid Public Opinion found that 40 percent of Canadians would like an elected head of state, compared to the 28 percent who prefer their leader to be chosen by birth. A widely cited 2011 survey by Newspoll found 41 percent of Australians wanted a democratic head of state - the lowest level since the mid-1990s - while 39 percent favored retaining a monarch.
Assuming the U.K. retains its monarchy until the boy born Monday is eligible to claim the crown, he may rule over just part of Great Britain. The Scottish National Party featured a photograph of a yawning baby on its home page Monday. In a video promoting Scotland's 2014 independence referendum a yet-to-be-born baby asks what Scotland will look like in her life. "Will it be a United Kingdom where privilege rules?" the narrator asks, without directly mentioning the monarchy. Polls show a tight campaign ahead of that vote.