Who Is The Royal Baby Town Crier? Tony Appleton's Title Might Not Be Official, But He's Officially The Most Entertaining Part Of A Royal Birth
Anyone paying attention to the news when Kate Middleton gave birth to a baby girl Saturday has one image in their minds. No, not the image of the royal baby herself — crowds and media celebrating her birth will of course have to wait for the first sight of Middleton and Prince William's new baby. Instead, those watching the announcement would have seen a colorfully dressed man ringing a bell, shouting the news — a town crier. But who is the town crier? Tony Appleton rang the bell, but he's not necessarily sanctioned to.
Had any of the royal babies been born in the aughts, we might have heard the news from Peter Moore, the man who held the official post of town crier, serving the mayor of London for over 30 years. (And, yes, that was an official job title — the court required town criers to make announcements about news to illiterate towns people long before Twitter was giving us 140 characters of breaking coverage.) But Moore passed away in 2009. Instead, when Prince George was born in July 2013, a new star arose in Appleton, a man who attracted news cameras for his booming voice and royal-seeming attire, alerting the crowd to the new prince.
So, it was only natural that members of the media watching would assume that Appleton was an official town crier. And though he may be in Romford, England and Bury St. Edmund, England, he doesn't actually serve the city of London. That little fact let to many a retractions by the media — most notably, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow, who corrected Appleton's official title on her show following Prince George's birth:
We identified this man as the official town crier of London. Upon further review we now have the full story. His name is Tony Appleton. He is a town crier, but he is a town crier in ... the town of Romford and Bury St. Edmunds. But he is not the official town crier of London, which is what I said.
That said, it's hardly surprising that Appleton managed to trick the news media, whether he intended to or not. The man himself on his website notes that he "is familiar with the particular protocol of the various societies and organisations and can adapt confidently to the specific needs of any event." And that, no doubt, includes the birth of any royal baby, even if Appleton, according to Maddow, got assistance on exactly how to announce Prince George's birth from a Times of London journalist.
Though Appleton's role during any birth of a royal baby might be a bit more clear now, what is his role outside of entertaining the crowds at Buckingham Palace? Appleton advertises himself as a toastmaster, pointing to his "voice as reliable and resounding as Big Ben" as proof of his talents. And, with that voice, Appleton not only celebrates royal births, but all sorts of special occasions, from weddings to bar mitzvahs. And, according to Fox News, he even owns a nursing home back in Romford.
Still, he'll always be most famous for his presence outside the Palace, where, back in 2013, he told media that he was "a royalist. I love the royal family." And has been for some time — Appleton has said his interest in the royal family stemmed from meeting the Queen when he was young.
Appleton may not be an official town crier, but after the birth of Prince George and the not-yet-named princess, we officially expect him to be there the next time around.