*Warning: Contains Opinions*
Every time a major British royal event comes up, one of the main questions I usually get is a riff on the headline of this article: why do Americans care about the British Royal family? It’s a valid question. We pride ourselves on having fought our war of independence precisely not to have to care about the British Royal Family at all, yet every time a wedding or major event rolls around, we’re up at 5 in the morning and sitting in front of the TV in our royal t-shirts, waving the Union Jack. Why do we, to borrow a British phrase, give a toss?
The answer is complicated and has many facets. I’ll try to go through them all. This is a useful exercise for me to collect my thoughts because while I’m over covering Harry’s Wedding, this is a question I will get asked a lot in interviews.
And another warning, I’m going to be candid with my opinions. If that will bother you, read no further.
The Meghan Markle Effect
The main reason why Americans are so excited specifically about this Royal Wedding is because an American is marrying into the Royal Family. The last one who did, did so under much different circumstances and it wasn’t a thing Americans probably cared about, especially since it was a political and cultural disaster for all involved. But Meghan is different. American girls are raised on a diet of Queens, Knights, Princesses and Royalty. It’s everywhere. Blame Disney. I’ve seen it myself as the father of a little girl. Why that is, is outside the scope of this article. It just is. So, a ‘normal’ American girl marrying into the British Royal Family is a big deal for the girls (and women) of America. Proof that you CAN marry a prince. The last rung on the meritocracy we value so much in America. Granted there aren’t many princes to go around these days. But it’s a fantasy. That’s the point.
Americans Are More English Than You Think
The roots of this Royal Deference and Anglophilia, I think, go back to the Revolutionary War itself. When war broke out, let’s not forget that it was a minority of people who were for fighting for independence. There was a considerable public debate. About 1/3 of Americans were for independence, 1/3 didn’t care, and 1/3 were proudly English and wanted to stay that way. Most people saw themselves as English subjects and simply wanted to find a peaceful solution to the problem. Obviously, that didn’t happen. But those English loyalists did not go away after the war. A few moved to Canada or the Caribbean colonies, but most stayed. And most probably still saw themselves as English until America’s unique cultural identity took hold. Many Americans have English or British heritage of some kind. You will find that Americans of Irish and Scottish extraction mostly probably don’t care for various historical and cultural reasons we won’t go into here.
It’s a Wedding
Let’s face it – the wedding is a very gender-specific interested event. You will not find many straight white cis males who are that interested. Except me. There are always exceptions. Big weddings are entertaining. They’re especially entertaining when it involves an entire country and will be watched all over the world and has a particular historical significance. There are dresses. There are flowers. There’s cake. There’s pomp and ceremony. There’s love. There’s cake. There are celebrity guests. There are historical buildings. There’s cake. There’s a lot about it that’s interesting. And yes, interesting enough to wake up practically in the middle of the night to witness.
It’s something POSITIVE for a change
At the end of the day, it’s a wedding. It’s two people who love each other pledging to be together for the rest of their lives. That is unabashedly a good thing. It’s something positive in the world for people to be entertained by. With so many terrible things going on in the world (Syria, starvation in Yemen, Iran, North Korea, Politics in general, take your pick), there is nothing wrong with stopping to care about something that is completely positive in every way. Some people are incapable of enjoying positive joy when there is suffering elsewhere in the world. We don’t have to listen to them.
Politics in Britain and the USA are currently toxic and terrible right now. Giving some deference to unelected people who generally do good in their societies is something positive to watch. We hate our elected leaders (in cycles depending on which parties are in power), but the Royal Family is not elected. They’re just there. And while many would like to see them go away, they’re generally a positive force in British society and the Commonwealth. Harry is never going to be King. All he has to do is not make a fuss. He’s done so much good in his short life and comes from great tragedy, that he deserves this day. He deserves to marry a woman he loves. And it’s nice to watch that.
The Diana Halo Effect
It’s not controversial to say that Princess Diana was popular here in the USA. American Anglophile Royalists were just as devastated as the British when she died tragically. Prince Harry being one of her sons plays a big part of why Americans care so much. His story, his growing up, his falling in love is a continuation of her story, and that’s something to be celebrated. William and Harry are popular figures in America, and that goodwill largely comes from Diana’s influence (certainly not from Prince Charles).
Many simply dismiss the Royals as celebrities. But that’s not how many of their ‘fans’ see it. People generally sneer at celebrities they don’t like, and celebrity is very fickle in the USA. There’s an element of classiness to the Royal Family that’s inbuilt into the aristocracy that fans just appreciate a lot more than the latest Kardashian TV show. It’s ironic that we appreciate the British class system so much when we pride ourselves in America being a ‘classless’ society (though it’s really not but that’s another delusion we all live with in America).
Some Don’t Care
I see it every time I post anything about the Royal Family or the wedding, some people just don’t care (and some are very nasty about not caring). And that’s fine. But that doesn’t mean it’s not fun for us and that we can’t get enjoyment out of it. I care because I find these things interesting. I care because it’s my job to care. I care because it’s fun. And don’t be ashamed of that. Quite a few people are offended that Meghan is a Hollywood Celebrity marrying into the Royal Family. Hollywood celebrities marrying into royal families is not a new thing. It doesn’t debase it in any way. She’s quit acting anyway.
The Last One For Awhile
Due to the small size of the Royal Family and the current ages of everyone, this will be the last major Royal Wedding for a long time to come. Yes, I know Princess Eugenie is getting married later this year but let’s face it, the further down the line of succession you get, the fewer people care. Eugenie’s wedding will not be as big of a deal. And that’s fine. Charles is happily married. William is happily married. The next ‘major’ royal wedding will be when little Prince George gets married in 20-30 years. It’s going to be a while until there’s another occasion like this. And as someone who’s attended these events, they’re just so much fun. The atmosphere is jubilant and positive. People are proud to be British on days like that. It’s a party atmosphere. It’s fun. And that’s great.
Why do you care about Royal Wedding and the British Royal Family? Let us know in the comments below.