On Sunday, January 9, Britain woke to news of Kate Middleton’s 40th birthday and the BBC dutifully broadcast it to the world. Everyone gawped at the three new photos officially released to mark the Duchess of Cambridge’s big birthday. On Broadcasting House, the Sunday breakfast show on the domestic channel BBC Radio 4, guests went so far as to suggest that the Duchess had been photographed by fashion photographer Paolo Roversi au naturel, ie without make-up!
A collective gasp went up around the land. So Kate is really that gorgeous, in the skin?
So the royal propaganda goes.
An ocean away, Kim Jong Un marked a birthday – possibly his 38th – on Saturday, January 8, without any such hoo-ha. Unlike his grandfather Kim Il Sung and his father Kim Jong Il, he didn’t gift his grateful people a national holiday to mark his birthday. (Not yet, anyway. Mr Kim may yet follow his late father and wait until his 40th birthday to declare it a national holiday on the North Korean calendar.)
For now, Mr Kim’s birthday was fairly low-key. The ruling Workers’ Party newspaper Rodong Shinmun made no mention of the North Korean dictator’s big day.
Like Kate in Britain, Mr Kim is in his 11th year as official big cheese. There is some speculation that after the tenth anniversary on December 30 of his rise to supreme commander of North Korea’s military, Mr Kim has cemented his grip on power and needs few big propaganda hits.
But for Kate and the British royal family, the good news machine needs to continue to churn out the schmaltz.