By STEVE REILLY AND TOM CHANG
News of the birth of a son to Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, on Monday was met with excitement by local expatriates and royals watchers.
Samantha Keys of Englewood is originally from the United Kingdom and her grandfather was a member of the Grenadier Guards, a senior regiment of the British military.
“I was keeping an eye on the royal family the past few months,” Keys said. “I’m really pleased about the news and it’s fantastic.”
Keys said the current surge of popularity in the royal family is due to William’s mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, who died in a car crash in 1997.
“The royal family seem much more approachable now because of her,” she said. “We saw her and her sons, William and Harry, growing up.”
Keys said the sons are following their mother’s legacy with improved visibility and charitable contributions to the community.
“There are so many supporters of the royal family,” she said. “You’re hearing more about the younger generation. Catherine (Duchess of Cambridge) is such a warm person. Her and William are such a lovely couple. I wish I was in the U.K. with them. I’m surprised how the Americans are taken with them because of Diana’s influence. It’s a great day for the royal family.”
Pam Amicarelli is a North Port resident originally from London. She’s a member of the British-American Club of Charlotte County and was pleased with the afternoon’s announcement of the royal birth.
“I’m very happy about it. We’ve all been waiting here for this very overdue event,” she said.
The arrival of the little prince was especially exciting for Ruth Tarr-Firth of Western Charlotte County.
“It’s the first time in a long time that there’s four generations of the monarchy,” said Tarr-Firth, originally from Wales. “It’s wonderful, absolutely lovely.” What’s sad, Tarr-Firth said, is that Princess Diana is not alive to see her grandson.
For Tarr-Firth, the royal family offers the British a “tangible stability.” She cited how the royal family stayed in London during World War II and the blitz bombing of London.
“They make the U.K. very unique,” Tarr-Firth said.
The Brits weren’t the only ones excited by the birth Monday.
Originally from Ontario, Canada, Glenn Alton described his grandmother as a “royals watcher” and said his sister, with her daughter and grandson, went to England when William and Kate married. Alton said he is happy about the birth of a son to William and Kate, but said Canadians are diverse in their opinions of the monarchy.
They’re not alone.
David Ballantyne, who is from outside of London and now lives in the Englewood area, said he believes William and Kate will be good parents and will bring up a nice and happy child.
But when it comes to retaining a monarch—even as a figurehead — Ballantyne said “it doesn’t make sense” and is one of the reasons he became a U.S. citizen years ago.
Staff writer Ian Ross contributed to this report.