, Newburyport, MA

July 24, 2013

Our view: Brits, Yanks united in royal apathy

Newburyport Daily News

---- — Did you hear the news? There was a baby born in England on Monday.

It would be pretty hard to escape the headlines announcing that Prince William and Kate Middleton welcomed their baby boy into the world Monday. As of yet, he has no name, but he does have an impressive title — His Royal Highness Prince of Cambridge.

The hubbub over this royal birth brings up those age-old questions about the odd kinship between our nation and our former colonial masters: Isn’t our country founded on a strong disdain for the monarchy? And do most Americans really have a “love affair” with the royal family, or is it force-fed to them by the media?

Certainly there was a lot of force-feeding going on this week and last. The media was staked out outside the hospital for days. Updates in front of the hospital’s closed door were breathlessly broadcast across our nation. There was even some temporary panic when it was thought that the media was staked out in front of the wrong hospital.

But there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that, the media coverage aside, we Americans are for the most part apathetic when it comes to the royals. Of note is a 2011 New York Times poll regarding the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. It was heavily covered and even broadcast live, yet the survey found only 6 percent of Americans were following news about the wedding “very closely,” and 22 percent said they were following it “somewhat closely.” The other 72 percent were either not interested at all or were not following it very closely.

The most interesting part of that survey was how the British people felt about the wedding — they were nearly as apathetic as us Yanks. Some 70 percent were not following it closely or “not at all.”

More recently, Survey Monkey — an online surveying tool — found that roughly 61 percent of Americans were not following the royal birth at all, and 22 percent were not following it closely. The other 17 percent were somewhat to very interested.

Just about everyone loves to see a cute baby, but perhaps not quite as enthralled as the morning TV shows might hope.

A case can be made that Americans are very interested in dynamic, powerful families. Especially if there is an element of attractiveness and tragedy. The Kennedys come to mind. And certainly the royal family does too.

But across the widest breadth of our nation, we’re not the biggest fans of watching England’s royal elite, despite what the broadcasts may lead us to believe. And the surveys indicate that the Brits aren’t so interested either.

Great Britain has long been our closest ally, united by a common language and tradition. We might also be united in a common apathy for the royals.