Some say it is a barbaric practice on a par with female genital mutilation, which causes loss of sexual sensitivity and can lead to psychological problems later in life. Others argue that it is an easy way to ensure good genital health, and can avoid traumatic surgery in adolescence.
Either way, circumcision is still a heated matter of debate, and, whilst very few children in England were traditionally circumcised, the Royal family and the English upper classes have a penchant for the practice, and have been circumcising their sons for generations, since the rule of George I in the seventeenth century.
It was partly a matter of class and partly because a circumcised penis was believed to be more hygienic than one left au naturel. And it probably was, in the days when daily bathing was a struggle.
Although the majority of aristocratic British families stopped circumcising sons in the 1970s the practice has still not entirely died out, leading to speculation as to whether the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will chose to follow suit.
In truth, it's hard to imagine Kate letting any one wielding a scalpel near her infant's penis.
In the Telegraph, Harry Wallop (who was himself circumcised by the same mohel who ‘did’ Prince Charles) writes that it is, however, “unlikely” that Baby Cambridge will be snipped, saying that “by the time the Duke of Cambridge himself was born in 1982, it is understood that Diana, the Princess of Wales, refused to continue the tradition, in keeping with the then medical opinion that it was an unnecessary procedure whose risks outweighed any possible benefits.”
It was the ‘done thing’ in week one of the baby’s life, along with the hiring of a maternity nurse and being put down for Eton and membership of the MCC. My mother recounts that when Dr Snowman arrived at our home, she asked if he needed anything, expecting an answer of “some hot water”. He replied, “a glass of red wine would be nice".
According to The Telegraph, the World Health Organisation in 2007 estimated that around 30 per cent of males aged 15 and over are circumcised around the world, with almost 70 per cent of these being Muslim.