Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Opinion: Why do Americans Care so Much About The Royal Family?

Amid the widespread media coverage in the United States of Kate Middleton's pregnancy and subsequent labor, we were reminded once again that America's enduring fascination with the Royal Family shows no sign of abating.

In 2011, all eyes turned to the Royal Wedding; in 1997, there was widespread grief following the death of Princess Diana;
in 1981, there was another wedding - that of Charles and Diana, not to mention the birth of Prince William a year later. Whatever the occasion, there is one thing you can guarantee: America will be there every step of the way.

Now don't get me wrong: as in England, there are residents in the United States who couldn't give a monkeys about the crown. Indeed, during Kate's pregnancy and beyond, I spoke to many people who could not see the logic behind the adoration. What is interesting about an elite group of people whose only real power is to serve as ceremonial heads of state?

The answer to that question might be a simple one. Whenever I speak to U.S. Royalists on this subject, America's secret desire to be governed by a Royal Family is often noted. For centuries, the United States has been bogged down by congressional gridlock and perceived corruption in Washington. The idea of a fairytale leadership system therefore seems oddly alluring to some citizens.

Of course, with political dynasties such as the Kennedy, Clinton and Bush families, America is perhaps closer to such a reality than it realizes. The major differences being that the aforementioned families actually wield pretty considerable power and dress most often in business attire.      

In fact, it is on this issue of power, or lack-there-of, that non-Royalists argue for the dismantling of the Royal Family entirely. We don't need them, people will say. Why should our taxes pay for this family's life-style?

And yet, despite some people's misgivings, there are those in America who remain ever faithful. This perhaps lends itself to another fact: that thousands of Americans identify as Anglophiles.

With the perpetual cultural invasion, which has seen The Beatles, Queen, Led Zeppelin, Adele, Shakespeare, J. K. Rowling, Tolkien, David Beckham and many more enter the American psyche, it is only natural that Americans would want to add the Royals to this list.

Finally, and it's a point often overlooked, America is a country that likes to talk about traditional values, particularly as it pertains to family and religion. Perhaps to some Americans, the Royals are indicative of both of these things: they are a family in the most literal sense; but they are Gods in so much as they are worshiped and adored.       

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5 comments:

Jonathan Thomas said...

I'm working on my own article about this. But for me personally it's having a living person, who's apolitical, embody the spirit of an entire nation. We do not have the same affection for our Presidents as the British have for their monarch. Because our head of state wields actual power, there's nothing honorable about someone who gets their hands dirty in politics. And at any one time, they only represent 51% of voters so most of the country feels unrepresented. With a monarch, there is no choice, they represent everyone whether they like it or not.

Kaley [Y Mucho Más] said...

You sound like John Oliver when you say we have a secret desire to be governed by royals! I love John Oliver.

I live most of the year in Spain, and I feel like Spaniards care quite a lot as well, although that may be influenced by the fact that they also hae a royal family. I find that Spaniards tend to think of the UK's as a bit more ... traditional? I'm not sure why.

James B. said...

Interesting "subject"! Although your Royal family is interesting,I think we americans are better off not having royality or nobility or landed gentry.
Our founding fathers were correct in choosing our form of goverement,constitution,bill of rights,ect!

redhuntinghat said...

I love this article, this is something I've been thinking a lot about myself lately!

As an American, I notice we as a nation have a weird view of England, though I'm not sure it works both ways. England sort of acts like our stand-in for Europe, nobility, and anything that happened before America was founded.

For example, in history classes, it is not uncommon for, when referring to pre-American English history, a teacher or student to refer to the English side of conflicts as "we" or "us", just as we do with Americans in history. Americans generally feel like we are the offspring of English society, and therefore their family is our family.

We don't have royalty, but every little girl still dreams of being a princess; its glamorous and romantic. Most "American Royalty", whether they are powerful political dynasties or entertainment royalty, have a glamour to them but in a different sense. Like you said, many Americans tend to have a weird sense of romanticism to a "simpler time" behind the fast-paced and ostentatious facade of our pop culture, and the Royal Family tends to fit that role.

We also really have no beef at all on the English. It seems many countries dislike the United States, and for some Americans the feeling is mutual as a result. It seems you can find someone in America who has something against any major country for whatever reason...besides England. Really from radical liberals to die-hard conservatives, if an American likes any other foreign country, it is England.

But back to the point, I guess many Americans feel like Royal Family is their Royal Family too, mostly due to America's sense of English ancestry and their ability to "stand-in" for roles American society can't fill.

Laurence Brown said...

Some very good points, redhuntinghat. I too have noticed how Britain gets a far easier ride, in the U.S., than most other countries.

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