AMERICAN ROYAL WATCHERS – BY ELLIN CURLEY

I’ve always loved following the British royal family. Growing up, I read about the young Prince Charles and his siblings, who were my generation.

When Diana Spencer came onto the scene, my interest spiked way up. I avidly followed her romance with Prince Charles, their wedding, their complex and eventually toxic marriage and their divorce.

In fact, I got up at 5 AM with my one year old son and watched Diana and Charles’ wedding live in 1981. I watched it while talking on the phone with my close English friend, in London. I still remember the excitement of that morning! (NOTE: Most Brits loved Diana’s poofy wedding dress and most Americans hated it, me included).

What intrigued me most about Diana, was how she modernized the royal family, single-handedly. This was particularly true in her role as mother to two young princes. She broke with the stuffy, old-fashioned tradition of remote and stiff royal parenting. She insisted on being a modern, hands on parent. This resonated with generations of younger Americans and Brits. She instantly became a royal to whom it was easier to relate. And the whole world fell in love with her.

She also brought the royal family into the modern era of fashion. Her contemporary, chic and sometimes casual style endeared her to modern women everywhere. She wore some risqué outfits as well as blue jeans and tee shirts. No one could accuse Diana of being frumpy or stodgy, like the Queen. Diana became a worldwide fashion icon – something the royal family had never dreamed of in the past.

Kate Middleton continued Diana’s tradition of modernization when she entered Prince William’s life during college. Not only was she a commoner, but she lived openly with William before they were married. She was also photographed (and still is) going to the supermarket and walking her dog and doing other everyday chores.

Once she had children, Kate took them everywhere with her. She also took care of them herself, with the help of William, her parents and one nanny. She functioned much like other wealthy working mothers. She gives lots of interviews about her children and her experiences with child rearing. Her devotion to her kids endears her to pretty much everyone.

Her great style and fashion sense also add to her cache. She is always well dressed and chic, even when she is dressed down. And she is incredibly glamorous when she needs to be. I love her clothes and admit to scrolling through vast numbers of fashion photos of Kate online.

Now the modernization of the British monarchy is taking another big step forward with Meghan Markle’s marriage to Prince Harry. Meghan is not only a commoner. She is also an American, divorced, a working actress/successful career woman, and biracial! These are all firsts for the monarchy.

Meghan’s acting career has prepared her for her future life in the limelight. She is already comfortable with the press, she is relaxed about being photographed and interviewed and she is confident about being in the public eye. So she is ahead of the game right out of the gate. She’ll probably be as much of a royal fashion plate as Kate is, but she will probably be more of a media presence than Kate has been.

Meghan is also naturally informal and open, traits the press love as well as the public. She reportedly likes to hug people, something that royal protocol strictly prohibits! She was also inclined to give autographs, which is also a royal no-no. So Meghan will be taking the monarchy down an increasingly accessible route.

I know it’s not going to happen, but I wish that Charles would abdicate in favor of William when the time comes. It would be nice to jump right into the more modern branch of the royal family. Instead we will have to live through another twenty years of Charles and Camilla – a throwback to the stuffy old days of yore.

But we’ll still get to royal watch William and Harry and their 21st century marriages and families. Even if William is not actually King, he can still be king of our hearts!

15 thoughts on “AMERICAN ROYAL WATCHERS – BY ELLIN CURLEY”

  1. I’ve been a fan of the Royals since seeing the wedding of Charles & Diana when I was 7 yrs old. (My mom woke me at 5 am to see it on TV). 🙂 I think the newer generations have added a lot and shake up the status quo. I love Kate and am warming up to Meghan, (huge Harry fan here) I just hope they are happy.

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    1. Harry seems to have found his souls mate in Meghan. I was sceptical at first, but seeing them together, I feel real love and chemistry. She is more independent and ‘liberated’ than Kate, although I am a great Kate fan. And I think she will add some sparkle and fun to the royal family. And some modern sensibilities beyond Kate’s commoner’s approach to everyday life and child rearing. It will be fun to follow these young couples through the years!

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      1. I was skeptical too, she was married before and an actress. But one look at them and you can see the true affection they have for each other. Harry was the ‘wild child’ so I’m glad he found the right woman to match with his life.

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  2. It’ll be interesting to see how Meghan and Harry hold up under the constant media glare. I know Meghan has the experience but this is a different stage.

    We only watched the wedding highlights on the Network evening news. It was a nice contrast to the other stuff.

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    1. You’re right, Garry. The constant media circus destroyed Diana. But I think Harry and Meghan are more media savvy and sophisticated than Diana was when she started out as a royal. I think they can handle it. Meghan has already survived having her father’s family dragged through the mud. They are also older than Diana was when she married Charles and I think that makes a big difference. It will be fun to watch them going forward.

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  3. I have to agree with you, Ellin, Diana’s wedding dress was awful, but I thought Megan’s wedding dress was lovely and was very becoming on her. I wish them well too.
    Leslie

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    1. My favorite wedding dress of all time was Kate Middleton’s! Meghan’s was minimalist and elegant. But it didn’t pack the wallop of Kate’s dress. I couldn’t take my eyes off of it! It looked more like a royal wedding dress. Meghan’s could have been any one’s chic, simple look. I was hoping for a bit more.

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  4. I watched the ceremony on the iPad and in the evening when Hero Husband was back we watched certain elements once more. I’m astonished at how natural Meghan acts and how truly lovingly she seems to feel towards her husband. None of the stiffness of the Royals. With those three latest additions to the Royal Family (Diane, Kate and Meghan) we can hope that the future looks brighter, cheerful & more joy-filled.
    Great post – thank you.

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    1. Meghan does seem natural and at ease, even in the glare of the media. And the love and respect and off the charts chemistry between her and Harry are palpable! It is nice to see such ‘real’ people get to live the royal fairy tale.

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  5. I remember watching Charles and Diana’s wedding, it was at night here in Australia and I watched it at a friend’s place, we made a night of it with chocolates and champagne. Diana was beautiful but I do admit that I hated that dress. Kate’s was much nicer. I didn’t get to see Harry and Meghan as I had my sister over and she would have been bored with it so I will try to catch up later to see the dress and the carriages etc. I know that the Queen is often called frumpy but if you look at photos of her as a young woman she wore some lovely dresses too including a couple of rather low cut evening dressses.
    I think it will be easier for Harry and Meghan because for one thing they are older, she is used to the limelight but also because although he is a high profile member of the Royal family they will never have to worry about him becoming King as he is now sixth in line to the throne and for that reason probably was allowed more freedom to choose a partner. I’d like to think that after the disasters of Princess Margaret and then her own children’s marriages the Queen is more flexible about things like divorce. Of course as head of the Church of England she felt she had to set an example but the church has modernised its thinking too so perhaps one day we’ll see a divorcee as queen. I don’t think we’ll have twenty years of Charles and Camilla as he’s already nearly 70 but then they are a long lived family so maybe.

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  6. William will probably be king, but one just never knows. Queen Elizabeth wasn’t supposed to be queen, but her uncle abdicated the throne to her father, thus changing the line of succession; therefore, even though, as you said, “… they will never have to worry about him becoming King as he is now sixth in line to the throne, …” in reality, anything can happen.

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  7. Good point Patsy but as Edward VIII did not have children when he became king I think Princess Elizabeth was already third in line before the abdication. I don’t even want to think about what kind of disaster would wipe out Prince William’s entire family. I think it would change the monarchy forever if that happened.

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