Object 61

Prince George

2039, London, England

Excerpt from a 2039 interview in PLOS ONE, an open-access scientific journal:

Q: Prince George, you've been described as "the next Elizabeth" by some very smart people, who also think you'll be "Britain’s first modern monarch". How does that make you feel?

A: Very awkward, I think. I really don't deserve that kind of praise, not at my age and certainly not given how little I've accomplished so far! There are plenty of other people, royal and not, who have done far more.

Q: It's quite extreme, isn't it? But objectively, you've made some very real scientific and technical achievements in the past five years. Given that most of those were made anonymously, it's fair to say that the praise is real and not just a product of star-struck reporters. Why did you pursue science in the first place?

A: And not the military? Well, I did have some... interesting... discussions with my father about whether or not I should take a role in the Armed Forces after my time at Cambridge. But I think that after I'd finished my PhD at MIT, he'd resigned himself to the fact that I wasn't likely to become Corporal Wales like him or Uncle Harry. I imagine the lab I set up in Buckingham Palace when I was eight may have had something to do with that.

Q: As a child, though?

A: [Pause] When you're growing up as a prince, everyone's watching you and judging you. Not for who you are, but for what you represent. And while I know my parents and of course my grandmother had a very hard time of it with the paparazzi, the kind of surveillance that exists now is a step above that. If I even so much as step foot outside a private residence, I will most certainly be watched and scrutinised every single second.

But if I didn't have privacy in the physical world, I did have privacy online. We have some very smart sysadmins at the Palace who set up some ingenious proxies and VPNs for me. And so I lived a kind of parallel life where I could talk with and learn from other people online, and I discovered that science was one of the places where I could make a meaningful contribution that wasn't twisted by people knowing who I was. It's a very collaborative, open world, like your journal!

Q: Very egalitarian, you might say?

A: [Laughs] Yes, you could say that. And if you're going to ask me about the referendum question, then you know that I can't answer.

Q: Well, I still have to mention it. First Australia, then India three years ago; it seems like the monarchy may not last forever. But given that you can't answer, what do you feel about the fact that you've been fast-tracked to rise to the throne, even though the King is still comparatively young and healthy?

A: Until my father told me, I was surprised as anyone else. I'm not even married yet!

Q: Not that that seems to matter for most people these days.

A: Not everyone, but traditions aren't always something we should feel we need to outgrow. Often they stay with us for a reason, and I think the ideals of commitment and marriage still resonate with many people.

Q: That's a diplomatic way to put it, but I'm not sure the modern idea of marriage contracts is something that your ancestors would have recognised.

A: There's plenty of things we have today that they wouldn't recognise, whether that's electricity or robots or space-stations. But let's not forget that my ancestors were trailblazers as well; after all, they may have created the Church of England, but it was because Henry VIII wanted a divorce! Yes, they might not recognise marriage contracts, but I don't agree that they would necessarily disapprove. Of course, they aren’t legal yet and they may not be for some time.

Q: The date for your coronation is set for next summer. How will you balance the demands of your research into recombinant genetics with your duties as King?

A: With grace, I hope — and with plenty of hard work!