My very first memory isn’t all that different from anyone else’s. I was three and it was my first day of preschool. For some reason, my mother ignored the fact that I was actually a boy, and dressed me in God-awful overalls, a frilly cuffed shirt and patent brogues. I’d planned to smear finger paint on the outfit the first chance I got.
But that’s not what stands out most in my mind.
By then, spotting a camera lens pointed my way was as common as seeing a bird in the sky. I should’ve been used to it—and I think I was. But that day was different.
Because there were hundreds of cameras.
Lining every inch of the sidewalk, the streets, clustered together at the entrance of my school like a sea of one-eyed monsters, waiting to pounce. I remember my mother’s voice, soothing and constant as I clung to her hand, but I couldn’t make out her words. They were drowned out by the roar of snapping shutters and the shouts of photographers calling my name.
“Nicholas! Nicholas, this way, smile now! Look up, lad! Nicholas, over here!”
It was the first inkling I’d had that I—that we—were different. In the years after, I’d learn just how different my family is. Internationally renowned, instantly recognizable, our everyday activities headlines in the making.
Fame is a strange thing. A powerful thing. Usually it ebbs and flows like a tide. People get swept up in it, swamped by it, but eventually the notoriety recedes, and the former object of its affection is reduced to someone who used to be someone, but isn’t anymore.
That will never happen to me. I was known before I was born and my name will be blazoned in history long after I’m dust in the ground. Infamy is temporary, celebrity is fleeting, but royalty…
Royalty is forever.