19 May 2012

What Americans Really Think Of The Monarchy

Posted by Happy Homemaker UK

Americans are misunderstood when it comes to the Royal Family
and I'm feeling the need to write about it :)


The lovely Duchess of Cambridge
(Getty Images)


Strangely, I often get the sense from the English
they think Americans on some repressed level 
regret gaining independence from Great Britain

In a recent interview, Lord Alan Watson,
author of 'The Queen and the USA', stated

'Americans retain a wistful fascination for the monarchy their forefathers ditched' 

'On the face of it, it's a paradox that the Great Republic [USA] 
should want to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee. 
But the sense of continuity afforded by the Queen 
makes Americans feel more comfortable in their skins.' 

Huh?! Huh?! and Huh?!

Most Americans aren't celebrating the Diamond Jubilee,
or watching it, 
and haven't heard of it

The Queen doesn't make us feel more comfortable in our skins,
as she definitely doesn't belong to our country any more than the Queen of Sweden
And it is the Britons who feel her continuity, not the Americans

Here's my take of the 'royal fascination' by Americans...

Like Audrey Hepburn, Liz Taylor, Jackie Kennedy, and Grace Kelly,
the Queen is a classic icon 
and symbol of an older generation that lives on


Last year's Royal Wedding was immensely popular among Americans
because it exemplified a real fairy tale and nodded to 'living the dream'
which we Americans are very into

Similarly
Princess Diana hooked Americans with her storybook wedding
and remained popular with her sense of style and likable persona

Remember my post of how our historic time lines are so different?
The era of England ruling America feels like it was back in the day of the cavemen,
so there is no connection between history and American's current interest in the monarchy

Americans do feel connected to the UK as a current ally with similar views,
but we live very much in the moment
We are just way too busy to look backward

Although Americans will continue to follow the handsome, classy royal couple like movie stars,
I can guarantee few Americans
could list the names of Queen Elizabeth's four children

With the absence of the crazy, almost ravenous, American media 
seen here during the Royal Wedding
I must say the upcoming Diamond Jubilee
feels more intimate and personal between Queen and country

which I'm really looking forward to

As an American :)

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61 comments:

Kate and Russ said...

Well said! As an American living in England, I still can't list the name of Queen Elizabeth's children. But I love a reason to celebrate!

likeschocolate said...

I did hear about the Jubilee before leaving the states, but it did not really have any meaning for me until I was in London this week. You are totally spot on! We think of them more in the way of Hollywood stars than long lost relatives we want to get to know again.

Happy Homemaker UK said...

Well said!

Happy Homemaker UK said...

(I can't list them either) Shhhh

Rebecca said...

Very well put and quite insightful! As a woman with an American Father, a Mother from New Zealand and an English husband (and son), I share your insight and agree. I must admit to an absolute adoration of the William and Kate saga for the simple reason you listed - it is a modern fairy tale and who among us doesnt adore a bit of romance (oh go on admit it!). I am a complete Anglophile - I simply adore the UK (and I can name the entire Royal family - extended cousins and all!). We are living in New Zealand now, but I do wish I was back in England and able to share in all the celebrations for the Queen's jubilee - such fun, lol! Becks x

Down by the sea said...

I think our media in England do portray the view you have highlighted above all the time, so it's refreshing to hear if from the other side for once. I just followed your link back to the Royal Wedding last year, they are a wonderful record of the preparations in London prior to the Wedding.
Sarah x

Ariana said...

Yep, I agree with you, Laura. I never thought about the monarchy when I was in the U.S.-- when it came up, I thought "Huh. I wonder what that's like, having a royal family in your midst..." But that was about it. Now that we're here, I think it's really fun, and cool to participate in the Diamond Jubilee (through my daughter being in school here) but it feels very much like it really is-- being a visitor and getting to celebrate while we're here, without any particular ownership. And I really don't know many royal family names or anything like that-- it's interesting, and I'm learning now, but it's not something I've ever kept tabs on before.

Sandra said...

Hello Laura, interesting to hear what you think about British Monarchy! I guess we can only ever talk for ourselves and not for all the folk from our home country.
I'm not sure that I feel that film stars can be compared to any Royal Family from any country. I was not an Audrey Hepburn, Liz Taylor or Grace Kelly fan any more than I was a Diana fan...I believe that Prince Charles has finally found happiness with the love of his youth. Good for him!
Jackie Kennedy seemed almost like American "royalty" at the time, she had such presence and I don't think she had an easy life...
I haven't lived in England since my twenties, but I still feel affection for the members of the Royal Family - they were always very much part of my childhood and I guess that is ingrained in me somehow.
I will be watching the Diamond Jubilee celebrations on television over here and I imagine that I will be feeling pretty patriotic!
May you enjoy the June celebrations as an American living in Britain, just like I enjoyed celebrations in the USA when I lived there!

GLENDA CHILDERS said...

I have always been fascinated with the Royal family, often read books about them and I can name the Queens four children ... and I am very happy to be an American who loves to visit England. :-)

Interesting post, Laura.

Pom Pom said...

Hi Laura! I like reading about the royals. I don't wish we had a queen, but I like Queen Elizabeth very much.
If it wasn't the Olympics year, we'd be heading to the UK for my first visit. I must say that I like Beatrix Potter just as much as the queen, now that I think of it! Smile.
Great post, as always!

Laura said...

I'm having a b-bq for the Jubilee. I have two fellow Brits living on my street and they had no idea it was even the Jubilee. We are tying it in with the http://www.thebiglunch.com. My children are fascinated with Princess Catherine, but simply because she is a real life princess. My eldest maintains she will be a Princess when she grows up, to which I said we should move back to England then. As the law is being changed in the UK allowing Catholics to marry into the Royal family, I said she may have a chance now, being she has Catholic- Jewish parents :-) Enjoy the celebrations, as I enjoy celebrating the 4th, smiling that I am celebrating the end of English rule! Have a great weekend! Lx

ann said...

Consider this: those who survived the Mayflower and then lived on to build Jamestown left a legacy of millions of descendants, so there are millions of Americans with English ancestry; I am one of them as a direct descendant of John Howland whom William Bradford writes about in his journal. Howland fell overboard during a storm and was rescued. I remember watching Queen Elizabeth's coronation--I was 5. We are not reluctant, regretful American British wannabes, we just enjoy the good news and may of use have an English heritage.

Happy Homemaker UK said...

I hope you get to visit soon - you'll love it!

TexWisGirl said...

perfectly put. i read about the diamond jubilee on a blog (possibly yours) - i hadn't heard of it otherwise. we consider the royal family celebrities.

Happy Homemaker UK said...

I didn't realize that law was being changed. I'm so glad you are celebrating a little piece of 'home'. There are you and two other brits on your block? Lucky girl :)

Priscilla said...

I think ignorance of things British is understandable when you consider a huge portion of the US population can't even name the first US president, or even the present Vice President! If it isn't on MTV or some other vapid media, it doesn't exist for them.

Happy Homemaker UK said...

I'm a descendant of the Mayflower too! The Spanish and French also 'settled' America - so I think of the English having a strong hold only in New England come to think of it. Then so many immigrants from all over the world afterwards.

Priscilla said...

Ann,
I don't remember the coronation, but I remember my mother listening to the king's funeral and following along in her prayer book and saying that when she died, they would say the same words for her. She said that in the eyes of God, a king was just as worthy of heaven as she was. When she did die many years later I asked that they read from that same edition of the Book of Common Prayer. It was the last thing I could do for her.

Happy Homemaker UK said...

Thank you :)

Happy Homemaker UK said...

What lovely, touching story, Priscilla. Thank you for sharing.

Happy Homemaker UK said...

I have more Jubilee posts to come :)

Kay G. said...

Wonderful post. Unfortunately, there are always a few "nutters" that happen to be American and they will come to be seen as representative of all Americans! Good thing we have you to set folks straight. Thank you!
(Of course, I know a lot about the royalty but I do love all things British, and am married to a Brit, so I have a reason to!)

Happy Homemaker UK said...

I still pinch myself that I am lucky enough to live here :)

Happy Homemaker UK said...

I am happy to trade a US Election Year for a Diamond Jubilee/Olympic Year any time :)

Happy Homemaker UK said...

Point taken, but the vast majority of Americans can name the first US President (for non-American readers).

ramblinbess said...

I thought about this during the Royal Wedding. I suppose I envied the pomp, tradition, and glamour of the affair. I could theoretically feel the same way about any country's royal family, but England feels more close to home than many other countries. In the end, I decided I'd feel uncomfortable with the wealth of a royal family. I'm pretty American in my belief that people shouldn't be born into wealth and power but should gave to earn it, and, to some extent, share it. I even think some people in the U.S. get paid way too much, like celebrities and CEOs.

Happy Homemaker UK said...

I know what you mean. There was a lot of thoughtfulness about the wedding here - being sensitive to the current economic situation yet making it a proper royal wedding. I think the public thought it was a good balance.

Happy Homemaker UK said...

;)

Gail Dixon (Louisiana Belle) said...

I agree! I feel no allegiance whatsoever to the "Royals". They're a fascinating tradition that seems to carry on in the face of poverty and a depressed economy. Oh, well. I do enjoy hearing about them and seeing the fashions, but what do they really add to society? Maybe I'm too cynical. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. So well presented. :)

Minerva Black the shop keeping cat said...

Good article and I enjoyed reading this & the comments. I'm an anglophile of some 30 years, always been totally absorbed by Europe and love living here. But I know I am American and remember the place fondly whilst calling England home. People here and everywhere are divided by like or dislike for the royal family. I'm a firm royalist, as many of my ancestors have been for hundreds of years. I can certainly name all of their children, for many generations, but I like history. I prefer having a royal family who contribute much to all walks of life with their charity and humanitarian work. Yes, they do get paid for it and yes they do get to live in palaces. But someone has to otherwise the palaces would have fallen down by now and tourtists would have nothing to come to and admire! All of the royal family work hard, especially the Queen. Without them hospitals and special events would be opened by a paid celebrity who was a 5 minute wonder. Much of what the royal family do for their subjects, here and abroad is not public knowledge. Whilst I do agree that poverty needs to be addressed it has never helped the poor people by getting rid of monarchy or knocking down castles.

Happy Homemaker UK said...

I definitely want to make sure this is a 'no royal bashing' space. The royal family definitely has its place here and is a part of the culture and history. I am not judging it; I'm writing about the misperception of Americans by the local media.

Happy Homemaker UK said...

Great points! Thank you :)

Happy Homemaker UK said...

Thank you :)

Grammy Goodwill said...

That really was a sweet story for Priscilla to share.

Nita {ModVintageLife} said...

I think we are fascinated by it because it seems so of another time...and yet they try to keep it going in modern times. Plus we all grew up on Disney Princess movies....we are told from the minute we realize we are little girls that we should aspire to grow and marry a prince. We have a fondness for things British because it seems quaint and from a storybook. I guarantee almost all Americans have never wished to have a Queen. We have our own history to admire...we'd much rather have a George Washington in our past than a Queen Elizabeth! Her profile does make an interesting graphic.....but then so does Abraham Lincoln. I've seen his image in art a lot lately not to mention that he'll be fighting vampires this summer on the big screen.

Iota said...

How incredibly patronising to suggest that Americans are wistful about Britain, and regret detaching from it, and feel a continuity through the British monarchy. Pa-tron-is-ing.

I agree with you, that it's the film star glamour of the royals that they find attractive (and these days, the Brits too, I think).

Sarah said...

I think most Americans feel neutral about the UK and their Royal Family. We find them fascinating, yet we don't really understand their "purpose" in the modern world...especially why they get paid. Most Americans are proud to be Americans...we don't desire to have what the UK has. We just enjoy watching it because it is different...just as we are fascinated with many different countries and the way they are ruled.

Happy Homemaker UK said...

Patronizing - yes, that is how it feels. I was wondering what you, a Brit living in the US, would think ;)

Happy Homemaker UK said...

Yes, yes, and yes! Abe fighting vampires?! Hadn't heard that ;)

Happy Homemaker UK said...

I do think we see it just as another country with a different way of life.

Holledayz said...

I could not have said it better and applaud you for your rebuttal ! I am also an American expat living just a few blocks from Buckingham Palace and I am truly enamored by every aspect of the Royal Family. I was one of those crazies on the Mall at sunrise waiting for a glimpse of the royal couple. There is something romantic and poetic about tiaras, carriages and the daily changing of the guard...and HELLO magazine! I am often asked about "American's fascination" with the Royal family and from now on I will quote you...if you don't mind?

Happy Homemaker UK said...

Of course! I so wanted to be there for the wedding - you must have had a good view? I do plan to be at the Thames for the flotilla - I don't want to miss that one :) So exciting to witness history in the making

lisaroyhandbags said...

As a Canadian, we obviously have a close tie to Britain since we share many things and she's on our coins and stamps. The Royals were a much bigger deal to my mom's era (she's in her 70s now) than they are to my era. Nowadays, they are like celebrities in my mind as well. I do love the fairytale of the wedding though and how the entire world seemed to come together in celebration - don't see that often nowadays! :)

louise said...

An interesting post. I was in the South Carolina years ago and when people heard my accent they couldn't wait to ask me about the Royal; there was an assumption that we bump into them at the supermarket and like - it was the height of the Diana frenzy. I was a guest at the Palace a couple of years ago and while not being particularly pro Monarchy it was quite a thrill nevertheless.

Ariana said...

Oh, and I'm sharing this in my weekly round up of good posts! Thank you!

Dave D said...

Have to agree with you Louise, I've worked in the States a few times (used to work for IBM in the UK), after asking if I was Australian when they heard my accent and telling them "no I'm English", the main topic of conversation from Americans was about the royal family. Some people even assumed that we went and had tea with the Queen on a regular basis, I just put it down to them watching too many old films. :-)

Happy Homemaker UK said...

I chalk it up to not knowing what else to talk to you about :) It's the biggest British symbol for us. Call it an ice breaker, if you will

Pat said...

OMG Will they ever get over it? I don't know any Americans, on either side of the Atlantic, who are the least bit interested in the Queen. We never developed a strong affinity for monarchies.

Happy Homemaker UK said...

Great to hear from a Commonwealther :)Thank you for your input!!

Happy Homemaker UK said...

Awesome! Stopping by now :)

Marilyn said...

Great post - My best friend lived in England for seven years and I was fortunate to be able to visit yearly (cheaper than therapy!)largely because we were living in Cairo, Egypt most of that time. She believed that the reason there was so much news on the monarchy in the UK was because people needed to hold onto something truly British as the landscape around them changed - what are your thoughts on that? As for the perceived American obsession I think you are spot on. It's more this removed amusement and interest similar to what many feel for Hollywood.

Happy Homemaker UK said...

I do think the Queen has provided continuity here, viewed as a real positive. We have nothing like it in the US.

LindyLouMac in Italy said...

Well expressed Laura.

Denise said...

Hi Laura,

I just sent you an e-mail. Have a great day!

Denise at Forest Manor

A Brit in Tennessee said...

Hi Laura, I must admit to being quite surprised by your point of view, maybe it's because I am English living in America, but there is hardly a time goes by, when I meet someone for the first time, that the conversation doesn't involve the British Royalty and their love of/interest in....

It could very well be an ice-breaker, as we all like to touch on a conversation piece that has a little in common with the person's background, but I have truly always felt, that American's in general hold a genuine fondness for Britain, and do not hesitate one minute, in telling you their family connections of generations long since past.

That feeling of 'we are happy to have you in our midst' is what has given me a true feeling of 'home' these past decades.

Off to have a little look-see at your new house now....
~Jo

Happy Homemaker UK said...

Absolutely - there is no question there is a genuine fondness for Britain. I am so glad you feel comfortable living there and it feels like home - Americans are a friendly bunch :)

Barbara said...

Queen Elizabeth has four children? This post was very well written!

outboundmom.com said...

As Americans, we won't be celebrating the Diamond Jubilee, but my two-year old and four-year old did dress up in their princess costumes and had a little tea party while watching the royal wedding last year. While they have no clue who the royal family is, they were sold when I told them it was a regular girl marrying a REAL prince. You hit it spot on when you said that we all like a real fairy tale and 'living the dream'!

Paula said...

Charles, Anne, Andrew and Edward!

I do love reading about the British royal family - not the gossip, but the history. I just finished reading a wonderful biography of Elizabeth II that I thoroughly enjoyed. My interest doesn't make me want to be British or regret our independence. I do love British history, literature, architecture and culture. I am happy to be an American Anglophile! I won't be celebrating the Diamond Jubilee, except to reflect on the history of how she came to the throne, a fascinating story, and in my opinion, not the least bit romantic. I am very glad that Edward VIII did not stay on the throne - the outcome of WWII would have been much different. Thanks for a thought-provoking post!

UKMUMINUSA said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
UKMUMINUSA said...

I too was a little surprised to read "Most Americans aren't celebrating the Diamond Jubilee,or watching it, and haven't heard of it" I have had many people on hearing my voice comment about the Jubilee, and every friend I spoke to watched it. It may be an icebreaker in conversations but after the ice has been broken they often come up in conversation. I did not watch the royal wedding or jubilee, I just don't have that fascination. However, every American I have ever come into contact wants to talk about them. I guess it beats talking about the weather:-)