Royals are one type of celebrity that America just doesn’t have.
We all have the other types: TikTokers, MyPillow guys, reality show chefs. But no queens, dukes, duchesses, prince consorts.
Which might explain why “Reserve,” Prince Harry’s tale — what, again? – The Dirty Deeds of the British Royal Family, is #1 on Amazon’s Best Seller list. It seems everyone in America is reading it.
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And if they don’t read (full disclosure: we didn’t, and maybe we don’t), they watch Prince Harry explain his finer points to Anderson Cooper. In particular, his grievances against the royal family – which range from contempt from wife Meghan Markle to physical violence from his brother, Prince William.
All hot stuff. And everything, in his opinion, should not be tolerated in silence.
Is he right?
Maybe not. He probably didn’t get the full reason why Americans are so fascinated by royalty. Although we did our best, 247 years ago, to get rid of it.
What is the purpose of the royal family? Some might say it’s a relic of another time. An emblem of imperialism, racism, classism, and various other religions, costing the British taxpayer $114.6 million a year.
Well, we’ll tell you the royals’ point of view. Although Harry, his late mother Diana, and other new-fashioned Windsors may not like it.
The goal of the royal family is…to take him.
That’s what America has always loved about royalty. The fact that they have to pay. Schadenfreud!
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Here’s the deal
Certainly, you will live in a palace, ride in a golden chariot, eat from golden plates, and have servants wait on your hands and feet. But are you happy? Of course not. You can’t go where you want to go. You cannot love who you want to love. Above all, you can’t complain. duty! For those of royal blood, duty first he duty!
Officially, that era of royal prerogative was abolished in 1918. World War I made the world safe for democracy. In Europe, ancient empires are disintegrating. It was the era of the common man.
But a strange thing happened. America has become, of all places, obsessed with ownership. Royal viewing has become an American spectator sport. It has been, ever since.
From Hollywood, in the 1920s, came an endless stream of movements about the lives of the crowned and prayed, sweethearts, and volcanic passions. “Three Weeks”, “The Swan”, “The Student Prince”, “His Watch”, “The Blindness of Love”, “The Merry Widow” were just some of them.
Mostly, the plots were the same. A young princess, or prince, is engaged in marriage, on formal grounds, to someone much older than himself, with every sex appeal like a dry sponge.
Then, on a rare expedition to the outside world, they meet… Him! Oh she!
Thus follows a romantic relationship. Forbidden lovers are seen cuddling on leopard carpets and beds of roses (“Three Weeks”) or drinking their love, in ale, with other brave-hearted commoners (“The Student Prince”). But always, the end is the same. duty! Duty above all. The king must renounce her secret love and, waving sadly, return to the palace, where the Marquis de Liverspot awaits.
These stories allowed American audiences to experience, vicariously, the wealth and privilege of members of the royal family. While at the same time reminding them that in the end, it was more fun being a regular Joe, he could choose his own date on a Saturday night.
Abdication – in short – is the key to the royal mystery. You can’t get what you want And Ownership privileges.
This is why the abdication of Edward VIII in 1936 was such a great drama. it used to be Choose. Even in 1956, when Grace Kelly married Prince Rainier III, part of the story’s interest was that she was giving up her hugely successful film career in the name of duty. “We are queens—we can never do as our hearts dictate,” says a character in the 1919 silent film “Dr. Caligari’s Closet.”
This is what today’s royals don’t seem to understand.
Prince Charles had the crazy idea that he should have the woman he loves, And Be the king of England. silly! Princess Diana seems to think she shouldn’t suffer from a loveless marriage. unbelievable!
and Harry? He has the audacity to believe that just because he married a woman whose family seems to have rejected her for all the bad reasons (racism and arrogance), he should not bear the indignities and disdain of what is more. An elite institution on earth.
But that – to the general public – is just a point of ownership. To remind us how much better we have.