The British royal family has long been a topic of allure for us monarch-less Americans. Sure, we fought an entire war and dumped a whole lot of tea in the Boston Harbor to escape the grasp of the British, but it’s incredibly hard to ignore their glamour and poise.
I know close to nothing about the royal family, but boy do I love hearing about them. I’ll tell you with 100% honesty that for a very long time I thought Queen Elizabeth was married to Prince Charles. (This is, of course, incorrect. Check out this family tree from the BBC.) In a last-ditch effort to educate myself enough to have an informed conversation, a few weeks ago I started watching The Crown on Netflix. I was instantly hooked. Before I knew it, I was cherishing the intricacies and controversies of the relationships between sisters and spouses and advisors and enjoying the breathtaking glimpses into the palace and the English countryside.
When Kate Middleton married Prince William in April of 2011, my fourth-grade class was in high spirits to say the least. Some of my classmates dressed up in their Sunday best, perhaps trying to live out vicariously this unattainable dream of becoming royal ourselves.
Needless to say, Prince Harry’s marriage to Meghan Markle in 2018 really got our attention. The union showed us that being British isn’t essential for taking part in the wonderful spectacle of the royal family.
The royal family is a symbol of elegance and composure and tradition. Their stability during economically and politically turbulent times makes the public feel comforted and secure, reminding us of the rich history and long-standing power of Great Britain. This history, however, is also fraught with immense pain. Unspeakable acts of imperialism and disregard for basic rights and liberties have long been staples of the British Empire.
Additionally, disillusion with the royal family is also seen inside of Great Britain. This 2018 article from Independent elucidates this frustration, which stems from yet is not limited to the “social cleansing of homeless people from the royal borough and the astronomical costs to the taxpayer.” Fellow Polljuice contributor Marina Martinez, who attends university in Scotland, says that “especially with a drive for Scottish independence (that has kind of lasted forever), there’s an idea floating around that a lot of Scots don’t even consider themselves British, and I imagine that might have to do with disdain for monarchy and more conservative institutions from Westminster.”
As Americans, we can pay our taxes knowing that they won’t be supporting the lavish lifestyles of monarchs. However, does our fascination with the royal family indicate an acceptance of the more undesirable aspects of their existence?
Take the poll below and let us know what you think.
Photo by Markus Spiske via Unsplash
Does the royal family deserve the hype?