The pomp, the glamour, the conflicts, the characters: When it comes to Britain’s royal family, Americans can’t seem to get enough. Through weddings, divorces, births, deaths, they’ve been invested in it all. That was evident this week following the announcement of King Charles III’s treatment for cancer.
While, yes, the United States got its start in 1776 by rejecting British royalty as a form of governance — and fighting a war to get away from it — Americans have never quite been able to quit their love of the spectacle of it all. And in celebrity-obsessed modern America, it’s one of the most compelling storylines around.
REASON 1: WHO DOESN’T LOVE A GOOD FAIRY TALE?
Kings and queens, princesses and princes. They’re mainstays of fairy tales and other stories, of imagination and play. They’re references for power and prestige, like Aretha Franklin as the “Queen of Soul” or the administration of John F. Kennedy as Camelot. And when there’s a fairy-tale romance presented as with Charles and Diana in 1981, or high tragedy with the premature death of Diana 16 years later, the intensity spikes.
“The monarchy becomes a kind of Holy Grail for everyone because that is the ultimate in terms of wealth, power, glamor, charisma — all of those things which you don’t have in that boring at-home situation,” says Maria Tatar, a professor of folklore and mythology at Harvard University.
The British royals aren’t the only ones to capture the American public imagination. In 1956, Philadelphia’s Grace Kelly, already a celebrity as an actor, married Prince Rainier III of Monaco. The ceremony was recorded and broadcast, watched by millions of Americans.
REASON 2: THE US AND THE UK, ALWAYS CONNECTED
REASON 3: THE CULT OF CELEBRITY
Follow New York-based AP journalist Deepti Hajela at http://twitter.com/dhajela