OPINION: Why are we still obsessed with the royal family?


headshot_Alex Cala

Alex Cala

The tabloids are ablaze with rumors about the royal family; Meghan Markle and Prince Harry just had a baby, Prince William is reportedly embroiled in an infidelity scandal and recent Instagram activity may point to a feud between Harry, William and their wives.

For as long as I can remember, this has been standard fare, with needless speculation about the personal lives of the House of Windsor serving to fulfill the insatiable appetites of a public so fixated on their every move.

This fixation is something I’ve never quite been able to understand.

In a world where Queen Elizabeth II holds no real legislative power and society has largely moved on from the antiquated, unmerited structures that monarchies tend to promote, why are so many still enamored with the royal family?

Despite its supposed “royal” status, the House of Windsor’s impact is actually very limited.

The family members are expected to remain politically neutral, abstain from voting and are governed by a bizarre set of etiquette rules which restrict their diet, interactions with the public and dress code.

Although these rules fit into the “royal image” that the family and press have cultivated over the years, they mark a clear distinction between the general public and the British royalty.

This distinction is one predicated upon the supposed class, grace and celebrity status that comes with being part of the aristocracy and the House of Windsor. It’s almost as if this superiority is ingrained in their blood.

However, the fact is that all members of the royal family have benefited from pure circumstance, being born into the right family at the right time in history.

While royalty of the past had to contend with ruling over their subjects, negotiating treaties and declaring war, the biggest obstacles that several of the younger members have contended with are mundane in comparison.

These range from the “controversial” outfits of Kate Middleton to the compromising photos of Prince Harry that leaked in early 2012.

This isn’t mentioned to demean these individuals for their problems or insinuate that they are horrible people; I still believe that the problems we face are somewhat relative to the times we live in.

However, when their main obstacles are an excessive amount of attention and the paparazzi, rather than enemy soldiers or feeding their subjects, it’s difficult to feel like the royal family deserves all the attention and special treatment it receives.

Besides a last name, the family members really aren’t that different from their “subjects.”

They still do perform important work in British society, with their promotion of charity and philanthropic endeavors, close relationship to the armed forces and symbolic importance all a testament to that.

While this work is important and does impact the lives of so many individuals, it should be pretty standard fare for a group with as much influence and as little formal responsibilities as the House of Windsor.

The media may realize this already, but given that stories about the royal family generate an immense amount of interest and readers, news sources aren’t likely to end their incessant coverage anytime soon.

This makes it imperative the public ends its obsession with the royal family now.

Not only is it largely media-created, but it has no place in modern society — a society where so many problems are so pervasive and are much more worthwhile of our attention, yet we continue to obsess over the arrival of a “royal” baby who will likely never see the throne.

This obsession is a lot like our fascination with other celebrities, based upon romanticized notions in our head, and the sooner we end it, the more we can focus our attention on actual important manners.

Alex Cala is a columnist. Contact him at [email protected].