Italians welcome 'royal baby' born on boat

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Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana (L): John Stillwell/AFP; Francesca Marina (R): Marina Militare
13:24 CEST+02:00
They are worlds apart socially and economically, but the arrival of Princess Charlotte in the UK and the birth of a migrant baby during a perilous sea crossing in the Mediterranean have both melted Italian hearts.

As people around the world celebrated the arrival of Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana in London last weekend, rescuers from the Italian navy welcomed the arrival of another new-born in the Mediterranean.

Weighing just over three kilos, the new-born was delivered on board the navy’s Bettica ship which was carrying 654 migrants.

She is just one of almost 7,000 migrants rescued from boats crossing the Mediterranean over the weekend and on Monday.

In recognition of her naval rescuers, the new-born was named Francesca Marina (Marina means navy in Italian). She was named Francesca after Pope Francis.

On Monday morning the Italian navy tweeted out a photo of the new-born, prompting comparisons with the royal baby in the UK.

“Francesca Marina, our ‘royal’ baby”, read a headline on the website for the Italian edition of Vanity Fair on Monday.

In his morning column on Tuesday entitled “Bambini Reali” (“Reali” meaning both royal and real in Italian), La Stampa journalist Massimo Gramellini compared the futures of the two new-borns.

“These two creatures who have just come into the world are a good snapshot of social inequality. One is called Charlotte Elizabeth Diana and was born from royal loins in a clinic for millionaires, waited for and blessed by millions of fellow countrymen, and even before she can crawl already has a paved road laid out in front of her.

“The other was called Francesca Marina after the sailors who helped her be delivered on the waves. Her cradle is a bed of luck and this clinic a boat of despair in which her Nigerian mother sought to escape from unspeakable horrors.”

In a reference to Italy’s controversial citizenship law, Gramellini notes that, as the daughter of immigrant parents, the girl will not be allowed to apply for citizenship until she is 18 years old.

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“There weren’t millions of compatriots waiting to bless her. Indeed, Francesca Marina won’t have any compatriots at all for a long time, because according to our laws she will only become Italian when she turns 18.”

On Tuesday it was also reported that around 40 migrants died when an inflatable boat carrying more than 100 people sank off the coast of Italy.

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