There's a lot of history, culture, and tradition surrounding royal births. In the hours and days after someone within the monarchy has a baby, the world waits patiently for the names, titles, and of course, very first photos to be released. However, as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge just welcomed their third child and second son into the family, one question may be piquing some people's interest: Does the royal family circumcise their kids? The rules and traditions surrounding circumcision have changed over the past few decades.
To make a long story short, the answer is no, the royal babies will most likely not be circumcised. The reason for that is as follows: The Telegraph explained that despite an ongoing tradition of circumcising royal babies, Princess Diana put an end to it in 1982, as it was deemed both medically unnecessary as well as having more risks than potential benefits. The article was actually written by a journalist who was also circumcised by the same professional who did Prince Charles'.
Prior to Princess Diana's ruling, SagePub reported that circumcisions for royals were initiated either by Queen Victoria or George I. At the time, the monarchy were adhering to the medical advice of professionals who believed that circumcision would be the most hygienic option for men. As Mayo Clinic reported, circumcised men may be at a lower risk for certain STIs, including HIV. Removal of the foreskin can also be helpful in keeping fungus, bacteria, or other infections from growing underneath it.
Though circumcision is generally more common in the U.S. than other countries, rates have been declining over the past few decades. According to Mayo Clinic Proceedings, the percentage dropped from 83 in the 1960s to 77 in 2010. The Washington Post explained that most Western European countries circumcise their boys at far lower rates (less than 20 percent) and circumcision is generally not considered the norm in most other parts of the world, save for, of course, religious traditions.
This is most likely because there is new researching arguing not only that circumcisions are not necessarily more hygienic, but also that they can cause issues down the line. The Atlantic reported that some argue male circumcision is the equivalent to FGM (female genital mutilation) wherein a young girl's clitoris is removed and her vaginal lips are sewn together, though that point has been contested.
President of Doctors Opposing Circumcision (DOC), Dr. George Denniston, told Parents:
Medical ethics state that parents only have the right to make medical decisions that are in a child's best interest. All mammals have a foreskin and that's the way nature intended it. Circumcision shouldn't be done to children because they can't give informed consent. They have the right to an intact body.
However, not all medical professionals agree. Parents also reported that in 2012, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) stated that because circumcision has both potential risks and potential benefits, the choice remains personal to each family.
The AAP has taken a fairly neutral stance on the subject of circumcision since 2000 -- but some people have found the lack of a strong recommendation to be annoying and unhelpful. Although parents often want to be told how to best take care of their babies, this is an area where some neutrality really is appropriate, because of the potential for both harm and benefit from the procedure.
Be that as it is, it seems that Will and Kate are taking it upon themselves to follow in keeping with Diana's judgment call, though of course, specifics of medical procedures — particularly for royals — remain confidential unless otherwise disclosed. Regardless of whether parents are raising a future king, reviewing the research and making an informed decision is what really matters in the end.