Finding America

Me and Tarah

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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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  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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!

  4. 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.

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

  6. Yeah, I don't understand the fascination either. For God's sake, our fore-bearers came from all over the world and fought TWO wars to caste off the English crown from America. Most of our founding fathers and visionaries (like Thomas Paine) were English by blood and birth, and yet they felt compelled to revolt because they saw an opportunity for a better way to live.

    Until WWII, people all over the globe were being murdered and oppressed in the name of the crown, and some of that oppression continues to this day. Admittedly, America has fallen into the same trap as England when it comes to imperialism and oppression, but at the very least America has the tools necessary to change. Those tools exist precisely because our country does NOT have a royal family. People here think our politics is a mess, but take 5 minutes to look at British history and you'll see that a parliament and royal family is far more chaotic, even if a bit romantic.

    Although I will always respect the royal family, at least the generations since WWII, I'll never be a royal fan boy. People love British rock bands because they made good music, people love British authors because they write compelling and entertaining stories (and both have some damn good managers and publicists). But love for the royal crown doesn't come from the same place. There is a duality to human nature, most want to choose their own destiny, others want their destiny chosen. The American way is to govern ourselves, but some people fear the vulnerability that brings, and so they seek strong institutions to protect them. That is the royal family in a nut-shell. They have plenty of power that they don't exercise, but they still function as a strong apolitical institution that the rest of the world will either respect or fear.


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