September 17, 2021 | OPINON | By Emma Logan | Illustration by Kira Schulist
On July 29, 2021, HBO Max released its new original series “The Prince.” This adult-animated sitcom explores the life of the British Royal Family by creating caricatured versions of global celebrities such as Queen Elizabeth, Prince William and Princess Kate, as well as Harry and Megan Markle. However, the titular “Prince” is none other than Prince George.
For those of you unfamiliar with the Royal Family, Prince George is the first-born son of Prince William and Kate and third in line to the throne. He is currently eight years old.
“The Prince” relies on the off-hand, crude, and raunchy humor that has made shows like “American Dad” and “Family Guy” household names. The image of a young child spewing profanities and cruel statements for comedic purposes has become commonplace in many adult cartoons. For the most part, there is no harm done by the inclusion of fictional characters like Stewi Griffin, Bart Simpson, or the various “South Park” children. They are pretty funny. They aren’t, however, real people, and they most certainly aren’t real children.
The willingness of HBO to release a show that so clearly mocks a child should give us all some pause. Although the Royal Family is understandably in the public eye, this in no way means that the exploitation of its youth is or should be acceptable. The unfair coverage of other famous children, such as Barron Trump or the Kardashian children, is hardly new for the media, though.
By normalizing harsh coverage of these individuals, both in news reporting and fictional satire, we allow the line separating children from their means of public recognition to be crossed even further. Especially given the recent controversy of how the media treated Megan Markle throughout her engagement and pregnancies, the unfair critique of an eight-year-old –– who has yet to develop his own unique personality or independent relationship with fame, based merely on the circumstance of his birth –– does not play well either.
Prince George is portrayed as a spoiled and narcissistic tyrant in the show, with scenes depicting him demanding tea that “doesn’t taste like piss” and degrading his personal butler. However, it doesn’t stop there. His six-year-old sister, Charlotte, and three-year-old brother, Louis, are also conceived of as a greedy political strategists and simple-minded brutes.
That is not to say the British monarchy is above criticism. The British monarchy should be critiqued as an antiquated, classist, racist, and superfluous institution in today’s contemporary discourse. The question about whether or not this family deserves as much money, recognition, and social capital as they have, has been circulating for years. The desire and potential responsibility to tear down the Royal Family and draw further attention to their inequitable standing has been a central theme within many forms of media for years.
The strategy of resorting back to caricatured versions of some of the most recognizable faces in the world is a steady and reliable approach to satirical comedy. We cannot, however, tear down children within a system that they had no say over being born into and expect them to grow up to be anything but the caricatures we paint them as.