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Media coverage of the royal wedding fuels America’s fairytale fascination

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Prince William and Kate Middleton will wed on April 29. Photo courtesy of Harper's Bazaar.

Who is designing Kate’s wedding dress? How will William’s family accept Kate as the next queen? Who will be in attendance at the wedding? Ever since the engagement of Prince William to Kate Middleton, the media has been plagued with these types of questions. The Royal Wedding has gotten just about as much coverage in America as it has in England. But why is this? Are Americans obsessed with royalty? Are we lacking in interesting celebrity news in our own country?

“The American public has a taste for the sensational, for the event, the spectacular and so on. Americans can enjoy the royal event at that level,” said Michael Frontani, associate professor of cinema at Elon University.

But why do the American news outlets feel the need to focus so heavily on a British event when there is plenty of news going on in America? This might be due to the fact that we have a historical tie to England.

“The interest derives in part from our shared histories,” Frontani said. “Undoubtedly, over the years, many Americans have demonstrated a largely fond fascination with royalty, and with British royalty in particular.”

Hayley Moll, an Elon student currently studying abroad in London, had a similar opinion.

“I think America is obsessed with the wedding because we’re obsessed with the Royal Family,” Moll said. “We don’t have one of our own, so we’re excited to follow the triumphs and failures of our parent country’s royals.”

Americans also love the idea of a fairy tale, and the classic tale of a prince falling in love with a simple girl makes for a fascinating story.

“One could also note the fairy tale aspect to it all,” Frontani said. “American mass media and its public consistently demonstrate a preference for the mass spectacle such a fairy tale would require.”

However, the coverage of the wedding has different implications for Britain than it does for America.

“British people have to contend with an aspect that Americans don’t- how does one feel about this relic of the past, tainted as it is with notions of divine right?” Frontani said. “For Americans – who cares? It’s not our government and it makes for a good show and run of newspapers, magazines, 24-hour news, and so forth. For Brits, it is much more a political and ideological question.”

This is not to say that the British media isn’t covering the lighter stuff on the wedding.

“There’s not an overly crazy amount of coverage, but I’d say it’s pretty similar to the type of coverage Americans give to actors’ weddings,” Moll said. “There’s something in the paper every day about it. Nothing big, but little fun facts like what her dress is, who’s going, etc.”

With the wedding less than two weeks away, preparations in London have been in full swing. Moll said a stage viewing has been built near Buckingham Palace, parts of the palace have been roped off and Westminster Abbey and the area around it has been cleaned up.

“It seems that they’re generally doing a lot of stuff to make everything look good for the press and the public who won’t actually be able to make it the wedding,” Moll said.

So are Elon students studying in London going to the wedding?

“My flatmates have all been following the wedding pretty closely and are super excited. We’re all planning on going to the wedding, maybe even camping out so that we can get a good spot to see the procession,” Moll said. “If anything, I’d say we’re probably more excited than the Brits.”


Written by juliasayers

April 20, 2011 at 12:40 pm

One Response

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  1. I overcame my ban on reading anything about this wedding to look at this. You mixed the two interviews well; I thought Frontani had some interesting things to say, and you have a good, long storytelling direct quote here and there from him. Nice work on that!

    This sentence four paragraphs up from the bottom is in need of repair – you need to add in a word, I think: “Moll said a stage viewing has been built near Buckingham Palace…”

    In AP style you do NOT capitalize the ID when it comes after a person’s name and you also made an error in his title, so Frontani is an associate professor of cinema at Elon.


    April 25, 2011 at 2:46 pm

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