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So What If the Royal Baby Is a Boy? The Royals Have Never Been About Female Advancement

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By now, the word 'royal baby' is either making you beat your head repeatedly against the nearest wall, or you're hooked on the latest 'developments' such as the baby's name or whether Kate has worn the same dress as Diana. But one aspect that some women columnists are talking about is the disappointment they felt when it was announced that the baby was a boy.

A girl, some said, would surely have paved the way for some sort of age of female enlightenment, paved the way for pay equality and ushered in the dawn of a new age.

Amanda Platell wrote on the Daily Mail that "in a world so lacking in role models , how extraordinary a girl-in-waiting could have been", while Dodai Stewart on Jezebel admitted she "kinda wanted the royal baby to be a girl" because of the "desire to see a woman in charge, even if she's just a figurehead in a terribly dated institution like the British Monarchy."

I too felt the involuntary pang of disappointment, having imagined that a female Royal Baby would be like some amazing reincarnation of Boudicea, but who are we kidding here?

The monarchy has never been about female advancement on home soil, no matter how much Platell recalls the achievements of Elizabeth I with misty-eyed nostalgia.

Don't get me wrong - I'm not a republican - more like an agnostic. But I think there's a very clear difference between liking the monarchy and pinning our hopes on them to effect change where it matters - down in the grassroots, in between the school run, long working hours and gender equality.

Kate seems like a nice girl and all, but there's no point hoping that she'll do anything for us or feminism, beyond minor rebellions like spending Christmas or raising the baby at her parents' house.

And if you're tutting that she's not actually royal-born, well then what about the others? What exactly has Zara Phillips, Beatrice and Eugenie done for the cause? As far as I can tell, the only one who's actually done anything is slightly interesting is Zara with her insistence to keep horse-riding, and as far as we can tell that's bloodymindedness, not a movement to prevent the NHS from nannying pregnant women.

But the Queen, you ask. Again, what has the Queen done for feminism? She's done a lot of things right - pow-wowing with James Bond, maintaining her poise and dignity and managing to not biff Phillip with her handbag on royal tours when meeting the locals, but I can't say that the Queen is up there on my feminism poster chart.

But - at least saying nothing is better than saying something completely unhelpful, as Queen Victoria did when Parliament denied women the right to vote in 1870. She wrote: "Let women be what God intended, a helpmate for man, but with totally different duties and vocations."

The Royals aren't a horrible bunch, in fact, Kate and William's relationship has done a lot to make them seem a bit more human. But let's not forget. The rules of primogeniture were only changed after the 2011 royal wedding so that female offspring could be in direct line for the throne even if a boy was born afterwards.

And, even that's not a gain for feminism - as was revealed two days ago, not all of the Commonwealth countries have signed the bill of assent so the act has yet to go through. In effect, it means that if Kate and Wills have a son, some countries may only recognise the male heir, which means that there will be two sovereigns. A complete mess, in other words.

If female advancement was so important to the royal family, this issue would have been tackled decades ago. It certainly has in other European monarchies. But it wasn't, and that isn't something that's likely to change.

So let's stop being disappointed that the royal baby is a boy, and stop bemoaning the loss of a non-existent 'role model' and let's embrace the true spirit of feminism as it has always been: sisters doing it for themselves.

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