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Why People Are Obsessed With the British Royal Family

Margaret Minnicks is an online writer who writes about the royal family.

Queen Elizabeth II with members of the royal family including Meghan Markle, Prince Harry, and Kate Middleton.

Queen Elizabeth II with members of the royal family including Meghan Markle, Prince Harry, and Kate Middleton.

Why Are We Obsessed With Royalty?

More and more people have become obsessed with the British Royal Family in recent years. The public keeps up to date about the royals are doing, where they are going, and especially what the royal women are wearing. It might surprise you that scientists say there are reasons for the obsession.

The obsession with the royal family did not just start after the marriage of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on May 19, 2018. Granted, the fascination has elevated much since then, but the interest started hundreds of years ago.

Arianne Chernock, an associate history professor at Boston University, said Americans' interest in the British royal family has heightened, especially with the younger generation.

A survey by YouGov proved that Americans are more obsessed with the British royals than with their own government. Some Americans are so upset about politics in their own country that seeing the royal family is a temporary escape from all of that.


Royal News Tops Other Celebrity News

Dr. Donna Rockwell is a clinical psychologist who specializes in celebrity and fame. She contends that just finding out what the royal family is doing often triggers good feelings within most people. Those stories even top other celebrity stories, and there are good reasons for it.

Psychological Reasons

In this chaotic world when things seem to be going wrong, it is actually comforting to see structure and order. The brain reacts to positive things. No one is saying the royals are perfect and without flaws. However, the mind reacts to what it sees on the surface even though things could be going wrong behind the scenes.

The brain gives the person a feeling of relaxation after hearing a good story about the British royal family. Psychologically, it is beneficial for people's mental health when they are fascinated with something that makes them feel good.

People love the royals because it is human nature to pay attention to those they admire. We will never be part of the royal family, but we do get small glimpses of their lives. That makes us feel like we know and understand them as human beings because they are relatable whether they are speaking to heads of state or mental patients and those with other illnesses.

Surely, the royal family lives a life that is materially and socially different from the majority of people in this world. Even though they are famous, they have some of the same basic needs and desires that commoners do. That's why in a very small way, people feel like they are just like us, only richer and more popular.


Parasocial Behavior

Dr. Frank Farley, a professor and psychologist at Temple University, says people are social beings and they often feel good thinking they can live their lives through their favorite celebrities, especially the royal family.

That process is known as “parasocial behavior” which is a one-sided relationship where someone becomes attached to a person without actually interacting with that person. Parasocial behavior includes being emotionally attached to a celebrity, a television show, or a favorite sports team.

People with parasocial behavior could become obsessed with one or more of the royals, or they could be obsessed with all of them as a collection or family unit.

Some royal watchers want to be like them. That's why the clothes that the Duchess of Cambridge and the Duchess of Sussex wear are sold out in minutes after they appear in them.

Farley says people dream of success, fame and wealth that started from the fairy tales they heard about when they were younger. Those ideas stay with us to some extent throughout our lives.

The royals have wealth, social influence, fame, and they live in castles and mansions just like in the history books. Instead of reading those stories, fans can see what is happening as it occurs.

The media keep people interested in the royals and celebrities by constantly reporting about them. The more people know about them, the more they want to know. In fact, some people become so obsessed, they think they are experts and become attached and very protective of people they will never meet.


Psychology professor Mark Griffiths of Nottingham Trent University in England agrees with Farley about parasocial behavior. He told HuffPost that people who are deeply fascinated by the royals develop “parasocial relationships.”

Griffiths says these relationships are one-sided affairs where one person spends emotional energy, interest and time while the celebrity is completely unaware that the other person even exists.

Social Media Contribution

The obsession was not as prominent years ago before social media. Some of the same things happened then, but everything wasn't publicized immediately. Today, as soon as a celebrity or a member of the royal family do something, it hits the airwaves moments later. Sometimes, the action is in real time.

The media has made it very easy for people to become obsessed with celebrities just by seeing them on television and reading about them in the newspapers. Television shows like The Crown and documentaries keep the public interested in the royal family.

Childhood Fairy Tales

We became fascinated and obsessed with fairy tales as children. As adults, the British royal family is a real-life fairy tale. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle played a great deal into that fairy tale fascination mainly because it is such a beautiful love story.

The different elements about Markle are fascinating because a lot of people never thought her marriage to a royal was possible.

A Shared History

It is not uncommon for people wanting to be a part of history. They want to feel included in something important. That is why millions of people got up early to watch four royal weddings and a funeral.

  • Over 17 million Americans tuned in to watch when Prince Charles married Diana Spencer in 1981. It was one of the most-watched television events of the 1980s in America.
  • Nearly 23 million Americans watched the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton in 2011.
  • Over 29.2 million people watched Prince Harry and Meghan Markle tie the knot on May 19, 2018.
  • More than 3 million people watched the wedding of Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank on October 12, 2018.

When Diana, Princess of Wales, died in 1997, about 33.2 million Americans watched the funeral. This number does not include the number who watched in Princess Diana's own country and other countries around the world.

People who watched the weddings and the funeral were part of them because they witnessed the events as they were happening in real time instead of having to read the details in a history book much later.


A Reality Show

Muhlenberg College Associate Professor Jeff Rudski says the royal family is actually a reality show. He explains that wanting to know everything about Queen Elizabeth and her family is like wanting to see the next episode of a popular reality show. If viewers miss an episode, they believe they have missed out on something very important.

According to Rudski, the royal family is one of the longest-running reality shows in history. Viewers have gotten to know the characters who are real members of the family.

Summary of Royal Obsession

According to the experts, people are obsessed with the royal family because of the following reasons:

  • It is a temporary escape from their own government.
  • Psychologically, people feel good about knowing the royal family.
  • Following the royals is part of parasocial behavior.
  • The public sees the royal family as a fairy tale.
  • Those who are fascinated are part of a shared history.
  • The activities of the royals are like a reality show.


Margaret Minnicks (author) from Richmond, VA on November 21, 2018:

Khal, I live in Richmond, Virginia that is thousands of miles from London. I am fascinated by the British Royal Family.

You are right. I do write many articles about the royals. I am never without something to write about. Even though I write about other subjects, I get most of my pageviews from anything I write about that family especially about Meghan Markle. Sometimes I get up to 4,000 or more pageviews per day mainly because I belong to over 12 royal groups on Facebook where I promote my articles. Fans of the royals just can't seem to get enough information about them.

I tend to write evergreen articles which means they will be just as current years from now as they are today.

Thanks for letting me know you are seeing my articles out there in cyberspace.

Khal Rasdam from Penang but occasionally traveling. on November 21, 2018:

Hello Margaret. I thought your were British and probably living somewhere in London. You have many articles about the Royal Family. The location besides the small picture below says you are from Richmond, Virginia, USA. I am amazed!

Margaret Minnicks (author) from Richmond, VA on November 21, 2018:

Khal, thanks for reading and responding to my article about the British Royal Family. I keep up with them because I think they are interesting to read and write about.

For me, there is always something fascinating to know.

Khal Rasdam from Penang but occasionally traveling. on November 20, 2018:

Nice article about the British Royal Family. Though I am not obsessed about the family, I do occasionally read about them in the media. And when I do read, I always found it interesting. Once again, nice article.

Marge on November 20, 2018:

very lovely family. Love William and Kate!