Why Americans are obsessed with the British royal family
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Of course, the British Monarchy holds a special place in the American obsession. The Windsors are so detached from our culture that they appear like celebrities rather than heads of state. But there’s also an intimacy, a personal interest in their experiences that is warranted by our two countries’ intertwined history.
Last week, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, made headlines with their viral interview with Oprah Winfrey. The pair outlined the problems they had as members of the British royal family and outlined their reasons for leaving the centuries-old institution, which varied from debates over “how dark” their son Archie’s complexion would be to the ongoing disregard of Meghan’s mental health.
Why is it that a country that successfully fought a Revolutionary War to win political independence from the British monarch is so obsessed with it?
Meghan Markle’s marriage to Prince Harry last year—and their present position as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex—has almost completely eclipsed her TV popularity. The Duchess’s pregnancy has sparked international media attention and numerous parallels between the contrasting traditions for mothers and newborns in the United Kingdom and the United States.
In 2018, 29 million individuals in the United States awoke at the crack of dawn to watch their wedding. In 2011, around 23 million people watched Prince William and Katherine’s wedding, with a global viewership of around 2 billion.
‘The Crown’ is one of Netflix’s most popular series, and there have been so many documentaries, novels, tell-alls, and series on Princess Diana’s life that she remains a hyper-relevant aspect of American society more than 20 years after her death.
Even if you’re not a fan of the Royals, a lot of Americans are.
Meghan stated that before the birth of Non-Prince Archie, someone in the Royal Family other than the Queen or Prince Phillip voiced worry that he would have dark complexion.
If this is accurate, it would show that not only does the royal family include racist members, but they are also shortsighted. If the drab royal family could use anything, it would be some color.
Another intriguing component of the monarchy’s attraction is its longevity, maybe notably in North America, where our democratic systems are considerably younger. Though controversies about who was England’s first ruler remain, an uninterrupted succession of queens and monarchs can be traced back to Egbert, the first Saxon monarch, who ruled from 827 to 839. That was about a thousand years ago. William the Conqueror became the first Norman monarch more than two centuries later. The British monarchy had been in place for about 950 years at the time of the American Revolutionary War. Any organization that has exercised power for so long is destined to “tease us out of thought,” to use the poet John Keats’ phrase.
The media is a significant culprit of our fascination with persons like the royal family. “Constant media exposure also creates a feedback loop,” according to Time Magazine. Because there is a declared interest in celebrities, the media produces articles, photographs, and other information about them. People get interested in celebrities because they are continually reported by the media, and the cycle continues. Farley describes our current day as “media-saturated.” “In a sense, there’s no escape. Some people will become interested in the details.”
“Royalty stands out as so unique, sometimes so glamorous, so rich, so story-book,” says Frank Farley, Professor of Psychology at Temple University. “They have ongoing salience against the backdrop of the frequent passing celebrity and fleeting fame.”
The British monarchy attracts Americans not merely for its stability, splendor, and everlasting authority, but also because no equivalent institution exists in American political or cultural life. The royal family underlines the particular bond between the two countries, while also standing resolutely apart from American customs and goals, revealing the two countries’ fundamental historical disparities.
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