Respecting a tradition that goes back over five centuries, Prince William and Princess Kate have ordered the gates at Buckingham Palace opened this weekend to allow some 60 million Britons the chance to touch their newborn baby, Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana.
While some visitors to the palace simply wish to share the royal couple’s joy at the historic birth, many also believe that merely brushing the child’s forehead, or pinching her cheeks and squealing delightedly “Coochy coochy coo, aren’t you gorgeous?” will bring them luck, fortune and good health.
The superstition dates back to 1491, when a nursemaid to Queen Elizabeth who had been suffering from chronic diarrhea for several days found that her normal bowel function and stool firmness was restored after she had helped to deliver the baby Prince Henry, who went on to become King Henry VIII. Inspired by the story of the nursemaid, as King he issued a royal proclamation outlawing diarrhea.
To this day, people in southwest England believe that touching a royal baby will protect them from not only persistent loose bowel movements, but also rheumatism, boils and gout.
Security will be tight to prevent people snipping off locks of the baby’s hair. Young Scottish men have traditionally worn lucky charms made from royal infant hair inside the lining of their kilts next to their genitals before their first experience of sexual intercourse, in the belief that it will promote endurance and delay orgasm.
The Dandy Goat’s Royal Baby correspondent spoke to some members of the crowd that had already started gathering in front of the palace this morning, and were pressing against the massive wrought iron gates in a good-natured but potentially lethal scrum.
Doris Flemm, who had made the three-day journey from the northern mining town of Newcastle with her seven-year-old son said: “My little boy has a spelling test coming up at school next week, and I’m hoping that stroking the infant will help him to do better than the five out of ten he got last week.”
79-year-old Alfred Dangleberry, from the East End of London, said that he had mislaid his reading glasses earlier in the morning, and thought that if he came to touch the princess, “Well, they might just turn up, mightn’t they?” When our correspondent pointed out that his glasses were on his head, Dangleberry began sobbing uncontrollably.
The tradition of touching the royal baby was suspended for two decades in 1948 following a tragic incident after the then Princess Elizabeth — the current Queen — gave birth to her first son. Sometime during the week-long ritual, during which millions of well-wishers filed past the royal crib, an unidentified couple switched the baby prince for a shaved infant baboon.
Fearing scandal and humiliation, the British government and royal family covered up the crime, and after pioneering plastic surgery developed to treat burns victims during the Second World War, the baby monkey was raised as Prince Charles, now the heir to the British throne.
For decades, rumors have persisted that the real royal baby was smuggled to America, where he was sold for adoption to a wealthy family and grew up to become Donald Trump.