The Swiss media have reported the birth of Britain’s new prince, but without the feverish full-page coverage of their British counterparts, preferring local news more often than not.
Indeed Der Bund in Bern pushed the baby right back to page 22. Its front-page photo and editorial focused on the news that a bear in the capital’s bear park was being deported to Bulgaria for anti-social behaviour.
Tabloid Blick, at the other end of the sensationalism spectrum, splashed a smiling Duchess of Cambridge on its front page, with the headline “A king for Kate!”.
“She has given life to a healthy boy,” it declared, adding that “William held Kate’s hand during labour.”
It then devoted all of page two and three – without having any other information to go on – to Kate’s fashion sense, possible godparents, possible names, the Queen’s other two great-grandchildren, what the stars predict for the newborn and a profile of the royal gynaecologist.
Pictures from Tina Turner’s Zurich wedding – front-page material on any other day – were relegated to the back page.
The Duchess of Cambridge, 31, gave birth to the couple’s first child on Monday afternoon, ending weeks of feverish anticipation about the arrival and surprising royal watchers, who were widely expecting a girl.
“It’s a boy!” was the front-page headline in Lausanne’s Le Matin, which raided both parents’ photo books for shots of William and Kate growing up and looked back over the past nine months “during which Britain held its breath”.
Kensington Palace, an official royal residence, announced the arrival of a boy weighing 3.8 kilogrammes at about 8.30pm on Monday, four hours after his birth, saying Kate and her child were doing well and would remain in hospital overnight. Prince William was with them.
Their son is third in line to the throne after grandfather Prince Charles and father Prince William, 31, and pushes Prince Harry, William’s brother, into fourth place.
“Welcome, kleiner Prinz!” said the Tages-Anzeiger in Zurich, mixing its languages (welcome, little prince), over a picture of a town crier announcing the birth.
Several Swiss papers, mostly from the French-speaking part of the country such as Le Temps in Geneva, referred to the “little prince”, also the title of a 1943 children’s book by French writer and pilot Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.
Le Temps' front-page photo was of a phalanx of sweltering press photographers outside St Mary’s Hospital in west London – Britain is currently experiencing a heatwave.
“The name is not known,” informed the article’s sub-heading.
The baby’s name will be announced later, but George and James, both traditional royal names, were favoured choices with British bookmakers. Ladbrokes had odds of 33-to-1 that the new heir would represent Britain at the Olympics.
Congratulations flooded in from all over the world after the announcement of the birth, which was followed moment-by-moment by the world media as well as the British press with the excitement seen as a boost for Britons facing economic austerity.
That said, the left-leaning Guardian newspaper provided readers of its website with a “Republican” button so that they could filter out the barrage of royal news if they wanted.
The Guardian’s indifference was reflected in several Swiss papers. The Basler Zeitung preferred to go with geothermal energy and earthquakes on its front page, with a photo of young girls in bikinis jumping into the Rhine from a Basel bridge – “actually forbidden”. The royal baby could be found on page eight.
Readers of the Tribune de Genève had to turn to page seven – the front page was devoted to the Paléo rock festival – and those of Zurich’s Neue Zürcher Zeitung wouldn’t have known anything had happened until they reached page 20 and a picture of a wall of press cameras outside the hospital.
“Birth of a future king,” was its headline, assuming the monarchy would still exist in 40 or so years. “The long wait is over.”
The most interesting editorial came from Lausanne paper 24 Heures. “There’s something deeply naive in our manner of patiently waiting for the royal baby,” it reckoned.
“Although kings and queens, princes and princesses, dukes and duchesses have long been assigned to the toy box of our memories, they continue to fascinate us. Switzerland has never had a monarchy – but that hasn’t prevented us from creating noble heroes: from William Tell […] to Roger Federer […] or the allegorical figure of Lady Helvetia.”
The editorialist pointed out that Swiss psychiatrist and psychotherapist Carl Gustav Jung had analysed our relationship with the aristocracy and had concluded that if young boys like princes fighting dragons, “it would build their narcissism better”. As for girls, identifying with princesses represented their desire to assert themselves “to be better than their friends and supplant their mother”.