LONDON – Britain’s royal baby spawned a social media frenzy Monday, but one newspaper’s website installed a “republican button” to let readers escape the wall-to-wall coverage.
The announcement that Prince William’s wife, Catherine, had gone into labor sent #RoyalBaby and similar tags trending on the microblogging site Twitter.
Among those tweeting was Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, who as head of the Church of England is expected to baptize the royal infant.
“My thoughts and prayers are with Kate and the whole family on this enormously special day,” Welby tweeted.
Former British Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott of the center-left Labour Party joked: “Great to hear the Duchess of Cambridge has gone into labor. Is she an affiliated member?”
But it was not all royal baby joy. The Guardian newspaper, long known for its left-leaning anti-monarchist stance, gave its website readers the option of making all royal baby stories disappear.
Its front page carried a button saying “Republican?” in purple lettering above the box containing the site’s royal coverage.
Pressing it eliminated all mention of the baby — except on the breaking news feed. The republican version of the paper, meanwhile, carried a button saying “Royalist?” to opt back in.
There were also plenty of Twitter comments critical of both the royals and of the global media’s fascination with them.
The parody account “God” (@TheTweetOfGod), which has 868,000 followers, wrote: “Does anyone know where I can find a live blog for the imminent birth of one of the 15,000 children born today who will die of starvation?”
One of the many parody royal baby accounts on Twitter (@RoyalBaby_NOT), meanwhile, took aim at the monarchy for failing to reflect Britain’s ethnic diversity.
“My mum has said if I’m a boy, I’ll have a popular British boy’s name. I’m looking forward to be known as baby Mohammed,” it said in a comment that was retweeted more than 300 times.
Mohammed, in its variant spellings, is one of the most popular names for newborn baby boys in Britain, which has a large Muslim community.