News Column

Infatuation With Royals May Stem from U.S. Celebrity Culture

July 23, 2013
royal couple

Michelle Colwell had two laptop computers set up Monday: One displaying the British publication Daily Mail, the other with live-streaming video outside the hospital where Prince William's wife, Kate, would give birth to their first child.

But the Bryan resident was en route to the bank when the announcement came that the heir to the throne is a baby boy, weighing in at 8 pounds, 6 ounces.

"At first I thought that I would have a baby shower and have people give gifts and donate them to charity," Colwell said. "But I've been traveling this summer and wasn't able to make it happen."

When Prince William wed his bride in 2011, Colwell was up at 2:30 a.m. organizing the final details for her royal wedding watch party that kicked off bright and early at 3 a.m.

The royal follower fell in love with British history as a little girl after reading an encyclopedia article about the coronation of Queen Elizabeth, she said.

Texas A&M professor and British literature expert Mary Ann O'Farrell said there are plenty of Americans as interested in royal affairs as Colwell, and plenty who aren't.

"First, I wonder if we really are so infatuated," O'Farrell said. "For as many Americans who are interested, I suspect just as many wish the networks would stop making the news all-royal-baby-all-the-time."

O'Farrell said she believes part of Americans' interest is derived from the country's strong celebrity culture.

"I bet many of us could come up with the names of the children of Gwyneth Paltrow, Brad Pitt and Beyonce, if asked."

The infatuation, she said, is "famously lower" in the U.K. than it is in the U.S.

"My friends in the U.K. certainly hope all goes well with the birth, but they seem to feel that the baby announcement will be a bit of nice news for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, nothing more," O'Farrell said. "For us, the royal family can be a show, mere entertainment. In the U.K., they are a financial drain, among other things, and families struggling economically there, for example, might find the attention and the money spent on the royals as an institution -- though they do help support themselves -- somewhat annoying."

Other Americans, like Bryan resident Chris Barnes, couldn't care less.

"What is there to say," Barnes said. "They are no more important to me than any other random person in the world."

But for Colwell, though her husband and two sons think she's "goofy," she'll keep on following the royal family, filling a drawer with memorabilia and eagerly awaiting the name of the third heir to the throne.

Source: (c)2013 The Eagle (Bryan, Texas). Distributed by MCT Information Services.

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