The Royal Family: Why Americans are Invested
Updated: Sep 21, 2020
We all know how cherished and loved the British royal family is around the world, but Americans, in particular, are extremely invested. Our society doesn't have an interest in any other crown like we do the British royal family. Over 29 million Americans tuned in for Harry and Meghan’s wedding, which turned out to be the highest American viewership for any royal wedding. The Queen has ruled for decades alongside her family and we just seem to love it! Why exactly is this? Let’s talk about why Americans are so obsessed with this fam.
The Royal Fantasy
When we turn on the news, the majority of it is negative nowadays. Hearing about the lives of the royal family provides an escape from reality for us. “The superficial romantic escapist aspect is often the first reason people cite for their interest in the British royal family,” Arianne Chernock, an associate professor of modern British history at Boston University explained. American politics tend to be very pessimistic and with all the negativity in the news, the British royal family gives us a distraction. “Look at these people: They inherited wealth, and social influence, and style, and fame, and they live this fairytale life in castles — all the stuff that we grow up on,” said Dr. Frank Farley, professor and psychologist at Temple University and a former American Psychological Association president. Seeing this portrayed in real life brings a bit of joy and escapism to the average American.
We are naturally programmed to love all things glitz and glamour, so that's another reason the royals seem very appealing. Fairytales are something that have been a part of our society since childhood. We grow up wanting to be princesses and knights, or kings and queens, especially after watching Disney princesses and wishing we had that fairytale. Many people compare those Disney princesses and their happy endings to Diana, Kate, and Meghan, who did not come from royalty. The British royal family represents a real-life fantasy, one we can live through vicariously.
The Markle Factor
When Harry and Meghan Markle announced their relationship back in 2016, people were surprised, to say the least. Then when they announced their engagement in 2017, people were downright shocked. Our society was thrilled since Meghan is American, even though she wasn’t the first American to marry into the British royal family. That honor goes to Wallis Simpson, who married King Edward VIII, the Queen’s uncle, who had to abdicate the throne for marrying her, so she never actually became a princess. Meghan, however, is an American princess, aka, she's living out every little girl's dream.
Behind all the glitz and glam, we also see a touching human element with this family. We feel like we know them and have been with them throughout their highs and lows. We have to remember the majority of the royal family hasn't chosen this life - they are born into it. Of course, there is an exception for those who marry into the family, but overall the members of this family don't have a choice for their life and have to make the best with the circumstances. We really see this human connection with relatable royals like Princess Diana, the "People’s Princess,” and her children. Both Prince William and Prince Harry have been vocal about how hurt and emotional they are about their mother’s death, something that has never been done in past generations.
Americans can appreciate the fact that the British royal family has thousands of years of history behind them. It's interesting to think that the monarchy still stands in Britain when they don’t exist in many parts of the world anymore. Again, no other crown gets as much love and attention as the British royals, but through it all, they still stand with their rich history. Even though they don't necessarily play huge historical roles like they used to, they still give us a way to connect with the past, which we Americans love to do.
Queen Elizabeth II has reigned for 68 years. To put it in perspective, that’s about the duration of approximately nine U.S. presidents taking office. She is the longest-reigning British monarch and was only 25 when she took the throne. There have only been five other reigning queens of Great Britain and the last one, Queen Victoria (second longest-reigning British monarch), reigned from 1837-1901. While America still hasn’t seen a female president in office, Great Britain has seen six powerful women take charge as their reigning queen for years. It doesn't seem like much, but compared to America, it’s amazing that Great Britain has allowed women to rule the nation.
We don’t have a royal family here in America, so that’s another contributor as to why we’re so interested. America used to be under the British Crown, but since the revolution and other wars, they have been our biggest ally. Pretty much right after the American Revolution, Americans began to follow the royals again and still felt that familial connection to them. Our colonial past is part of this story. We don’t have anything like the royal family in the United States, so it’s interesting how their present was once part of our past.
It’s clear why we are so invested in the British royal family - they’re fascinating and we just can’t help but love them. Former President Barack Obama said to Prince Charles, “I think it’s fair to say that the American people are quite fond of the royal family. They like them much better than they like their own politicians.” Okay, but was he wrong?
So, what are your thoughts? Are you a fan of the royals? Are you team Harry or team William? Let us know over on Instagram at @thisisuproar.