In a few months, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor will become a member of the best VIP club in the world. He will gain instant access to an elite group of the coolest, most charming people and to a section of society made up exclusively of those who are physically and mentally superior. Archie, welcome to the Older Siblings Club.
As someone with a sister who’s four years younger, I’ve learnt a thing or two about navigating the role of firstborn. Here’s what Archie can expect...
After the initial shock of no longer being the sole focus of his parents’ adoration (a few bone-jangingly loud tantrums should sort that out), Archie will realise he has acquired his own private skivvy. A tiny personal minion. For a few golden years, once they can walk but before they know better, your little brother or sister will simply ask ‘how high’ when you say ‘jump.’
This power lasts for a short time and should be used wisely so as to not raise suspicion and to be of maximum benefit to the older sibling. I invented a childhood game called ‘Spas’, for example. The premise was simple: I was a customer at a spa and my little sister was the masseuse. I got away with that one for months. My cousin, convinced his little sister that WH Smith receipts were valuable and she would save up her pocket money to buy them off him. A goldmine.
Archie should also know that once the younger sibling realises that they’ve been manipulated, an attempt to assert themselves will swiftly follow. Physical fights and name-calling are inevitable here. Try not to cause any permanent damage and always apologise first. It’s up to us, the older siblings, to teach the young and impressionable right from wrong.
There comes a time for every older sibling when someone hurts their younger brother or sister - a school bully, an idiot on social media or a boyfriend or a girlfriend who breaks their heart. This will be as painful for the older sibling as it is for the one going through the ordeal. Give them a hug and let them have the biggest portion at dinner that night.
The urge to protect a younger sibling is instant and strong. And yet, they are also the most annoying person you’ll ever know. Go figure?
The very best thing about having a sibling though is that they are a ready-made friend uniquely placed to just get it - especially when it comes to uniting against fun-sponge parents. A sibling is there with you through the happiness, tragedy and mundanity of family life and it doesn’t get much better than that.