They were royal times but more women needed at the helm today
Hear Ye, Hear Ye, Hear Ye. I have always wanted to do that! The sounding of the ancient call of the town crier ... and the beginnings of the first women's magazines.
It was a delight to hear the booming announcement of the birth of Prince George from the steps of St Mary's Hospital in Paddington, even if the self-appointed town crier, Tony Appleton, was an interloper and a sort of overdressed streaker with a voice bigger than anything else.
I'm sure that we will all remember and associate his traditional words "Oyez, Oyez, Oyez" with the birth of the prince.
"Isn't it treason to announce an English prince with an old French word for listen up?" asks Louise.
Disputing the message with the town crier was made a treasonous offence by royal decree centuries ago, hence the phrase "don't shoot the messenger". I'm sure the media wish something similar was still in force.
In this digital world it is easy to forget that the advertising industry began with the town crier, and it was great to see the florid Tony in his scarlet and gold robes bring us a flashback to London before the arrival of the printing press.
Royal family news has always been big news, and in the golden era of women's magazines a couple of decades ago, the Women's Weekly was the centre of the coverage for the births of Prince William and Prince Harry. And who will ever forget the coverage of the "Diana years" and the controversies about the wayward new royal generations led by Fergie. New Idea and Woman's Day also lived for these very moments and reported them from cover to cover. It was the great time for magazines, with the combined circulation of these three at 2.6 million copies, and the Women's Weekly alone selling 1.2 million copies every week. Almost 50 per cent of women and a large proportion of men read them. Today that number has dropped to just on half.
It seemed then that the royal family coverage, particularly births, was the glamorous reflection of our own family aspirations.
Prince William got his first front page of the Women's Weekly on October 20, 1982, but in the next edition the cover went to the Irwin quadruplets, with the headline "Bedlam but fun". It was gold, gold, gold and more gold, for the Weekly when Queen Elizabeth met the Sara quadruplets on her visit to Australia in 1954. The Queen was on every front cover of the magazine from January 27 to March 17 that year. Multiple births were always big news for the magazines.
"What's all this talk about royals, babies and women's magazines of the past?" huffs Louise. "We need to move on!" She's right. And we have. But although things are changing, they need to move more quickly.
It's a very good sign that if the new royal baby had been a princess, she would still be third in line to the throne thanks to recent changes in royal accession.
The popularity of Sheryl Sandberg's new book Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead is further evidence of these welcome changes.
Sandberg's day job is chief operating officer of Facebook and she has real cred with young women in particular. She makes a clear case for how and why more women need to take their place at the table. "For decades, we have focused on giving women the choice to work inside or outside the home. But we have to ask if we have become so focused on supporting personal choices that we're failing to encourage women and inspire leadership. It is time to cheer on girls and women who want to sit at the table, seek challenges and lean in to their careers."
We all need to embrace these changes and pay attention to the well-founded claims by women.
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