The world had been waiting for months for the arrival of the latest baby royale, but as prepared as folks were for the proclamation, the appearance of royal crier Tony Appleton was at once jaw-dropping and splendid.
That jacket. His bellow. The bell. And that marvelous tricorn hat with the electric-blue and pink feathers.
His regalia may have been apropos for the occasion (in that Georgian era kind of way), but the scalawag wasn't officially sanctioned. The town crier told the Yahoo! News UK & Ireland, "I was not invited, I just crashed the party. I got out of my cab and I stood in front of the steps, because I didn't think I would be allowed on them, and did my bit. It was great."
So whence did he come? Well, like all good town criers, 76-year-old Appleton has a website, where he reveals himself to be the Lord of the Manor of Great Baddow. Not surprisingly, the man given the job to herald the coming of His Royal Prince Highness the Prince of Cambridge not only is the president of the Guild of International Millennium Town Criers but also has been named Town Crier of the Year.
Before the crowds gathered for the royal baby in persona and virtually, Appleton's biggest audience may have been the 240 million who tuned into the 2011 New Years Day Parade in England. While Appleton has done many jobs big and small, his position is one that goes back centuries, to ancient Greek and Roman empires. The town criers served as the original public relations arm for the king, and harming them could get one charged with treason.
As for that ensemble, his website history notes that those fabulous uniforms date back to the 17th century:
The Town Crier's robes are similar to those of the mayor, and uniforms are usually designed, incorporating the colours of the Crier's town.
The ceremonial tricorne is adorned with curling feathers, a traditional representation of the quills used by earlier town criers to write their proclamations.
Announcements are always preceded by the traditional "Oyez Oyez Oyez" (which is "listen" in French) and conclude with "God save the Queen."
The seasoned vet may also be prescient: Appleton told Seven Network he knew the offspring would be a boy. Sure, the odds were 50-50, but he got to shout it to the rooftops. Beat that, Twitter. Wait — the royal crier is on Twitter.
In London ready to make proclamation— Tony Appleton (@lordofgreatbadd) July 22, 2013
A few have been enraptured by the way Appleton encapsulates the pomp and circumstance. "It might have been the royal baby who was born today, but the limelight was stolen by the town crier," crowed the Quartz.
The New York Daily News begged indulgence of their readers: "Please allow us this brief fascination with the ceremonial town crier who clanged a bell and in booming voice officially announced the arrival of the royal baby. ... First we were beguiled by the idea that "town crier" might still be some sort of royal post, a holdover from a forgotten time before mass communication. Now we are equally excited to learn that Tony is available for all manner of commoner events. Book him while you can. We predict Tony Appleton is about to blow up."
Some more reactions to the spectacle that is Appleton.:
The royal Town Crier man, Tony Appleton, has the coolest hat ever. WHEREEE can I get one?!— The Rules (@RulesForBelles) July 22, 2013
Announcing the Royal birth, closing the Olympic Games, leading the crowd in song at the Royal Wedding, Tony Appleton-BEST JOB EVER!— Lucy Austin-Davis (@LucyAustinDavis) July 22, 2013
Now ** this ** is a birth announcement. Town crier Tony Appleton read the royal proclamation announcing the... http://t.co/YRIw0hnc8d— Hub Tweets (@HubTwit) July 22, 2013
Can't believe Great Baddow's Tony Appleton was asked by the Royals to announce the birth of the #RoyalBaby. Top man— George Thorpe (@GeorgeNewsSport) July 22, 2013
The Washington Post couldn't resist a picture of the town crier toasting with his bell. Neither can we.
This post was updated with the Yahoo! News UK & Ireland interview