By Meredith Pratt | Staff Writer
British accents, Harry Potter, One Direction… needless to say, growing up, I had no shortage of affection towards Great Britain. It’s also not surprising that when I visited London in 2015, I went full tourist mode.
The only surprising thing about the trip was that, out of all my anglophile interests, there was only one thing on my mind — the royals.
Don’t get me wrong, I probably faked a British accent once or twice, bought overpriced Gryffindor merchandise and listened to 1D on repeat. But, while I was there, I was most adamant about wanting to see and learn everything about the royal family.
I believe I visited every historical royal destination possible, from the gardens to the crown jewels to Buckingham palace.
I’m not exactly sure when my interest began, but I would guess around the time of Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding in 2011. I remember waking up super early that day because of the time difference and watching the ceremony live.
I also think it’s safe to say I’m not the only one fascinated by England and the royal family. The evidence is in the numbers.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s 2018 wedding reached an American audience of approximately 29 million, overshadowing William and Middleton’s audience of 23 million.
Hollywood has capitalized on the royal obsession too, with countless movies and TV series made about British aristocrats and nobility. Some examples are Downton Abbey, which at its peak reached a weekly audience of over 13 million, and Netflix’s The Crown, which has reportedly reached a global audience of 73 million.
So, where does this infatuation stem from?
If I had to guess, a large part of the reason so many people are interested in the royal family is because of the air of mystery surrounding them. In some respects they do live a life of celebrity, but, for the most part, they live a life of seclusion and not many people know what really goes on in their day-to-day lives.
So many of us grew up reading fairytales and watching Disney movies depicting royalty and we are just curious about how real-life royalty measures up.
Americans also likely have a particular fascination with the royal family because we have no history of royalty in our country, and that foreign aspect of the royal family is captivating.
Harry’s marriage to Markle was especially noteworthy for bringing an American into the exclusive British royal lifestyle, at least for a little while until the couple announced they were stepping down from their royal duties.
I believe the widespread interest in the royal family from Brits and citizens all over the world is a good thing. Although the queen’s role is now just as a symbolic leader, the global attention she and the royal family still receive illustrates the importance of tradition.
Having strong traditions and symbols is part of what makes Britain so interesting, especially to us Americans who still live in a relatively young country.