On May 2, 2015, the world welcomed the newest member of the British Royal Family, Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana of Cambridge. Though only a few days old, the wee royal is eliciting everything from overjoyed excitement to provocative rumors on both sides of the pond. The British fascination with the new princess is understandable; she is, after all, the fourth in line to the throne and the first female heir to be born since the passing of the Succession to the Crown Act in 2013, which declared that princes no longer take precedence over their sisters. The British Royal Family's allure for the American public may be a bit harder to understand, but it's nevertheless undeniable, and American citizens and media are following Princess Charlotte as closely as their British counterparts.
Despite such hiccups as the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812, British-American relations have been overwhelmingly positive since the founding of the younger nation. Politically speaking, the US and the UK have supported each other through devastating wars, global diplomatic shifts, and the desire to be known by their acronyms. Over the past couple centuries, however, Americans' opinions of the British Monarchy have been quite fluid. Depending on the cultural climate, the year, and the person you ask, Americans may regard members of the Royal Family as quaint yet antiquated relics of an old-fashioned system, mesmerizing celebrities lumped in with the likes of musicians and movie stars, or cherished kinfolk we keep close to our clumsy, oversized, American hearts.
British Monarchs in America
For years, Americans have welcomed visiting members of the Royal Family with excitement and enthusiasm, such as when fans mobbed Prince Albert Edward across the nation during the future king's 1860 US tour or when King George VI and Queen Elizabeth captivated and charmed the American public by eating their very first hot dogs in Hyde Park, NY, in 1939. But it wasn't until Lady Diana Spencer married Charles, the Prince of Wales and heir apparent of Queen Elizabeth II, that the American people became truly interested in the goings-on of the privileged nobility on the other side of the ocean. Americans may not have understood the complexities, the history, and the indecipherable titles of the British Monarchy, but we loved Diana nonetheless for her humility, kindness, and human fragility. After the beloved princess died in a car crash in 1997, Americans mourned Diana's death from afar along with the British, and her sons, who still carry her features in their faces, are well-liked in the US.
It should come as no surprise that Catherine Middleton, officially the Duchess of Cambridge but affectionately known as Kate, has fascinated Americans since she and Prince William first started dating. Her grace, designer style, and beauty are reminiscent of Princess Diana, and the births of both her children have once again drawn American eyes back to the British Royal Family. If little Princess Charlotte has renewed your interest in the British Monarchy, this may be the perfect time to travel to the UK to see some of the country's most famous royal sites. You could rent a car in London and see Buckingham Palace and the ceremonial Changing of the Guard, or stop by Westminster Abbey, where dozens of coronations and royal weddings have been held since the Middle Ages. Many parts of Windsor Castle, the Queen's official residence and the largest occupied castle in the world, are open to the public, and with an England rental car, it's easy to make the trip from London to the county of Berkshire. Whatever you hope to do, learning more about the Royal Family while in the UK is sure to educate, fascinate, and delight!