I spent part of my senior year of high school in Great Britain, and I made a friend there who had never heard of iced tea. As a proud Englishman from Nottingham, he was slightly offended at the notion anyone would put ice in his tea. I assured him it was normal, that you could buy iced tea anywhere, and that when I got back home I would send him a bottle to prove it.
Lucky for me, when I got back that summer, Snapple had an entire line of flavored iced teas featuring the Boston Tea Party right there on the label. I bought a couple and shipped them off to Nottingham with a note to my friend suggesting that in America, even our stupid product labels celebrate our glorious victory over the redcoats.
But that was a long time ago. Today, it seems a great many of us are so enamored of the British we’ll spend an entire news cycle on gossip and intrigues surrounding the royal family. All it takes is for its two dullest, most craven members to sit down for an interview with Oprah, and that’s all we can seem to talk about for the next 48 hours.
Let me just say, as a proud American, I didn’t watch that stupid interview with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, and I never will. Every time I hear someone talking about it or see someone posting about it, all I want to do is wave an American flag and sink British ships.
Why? Because caring one whit about the fortunes and scandals of the royal family is profoundly un-American. All Americans should look on aristocracy and hereditary titles with contempt, and on people who fawn over them with pity. We fought a war and won a revolution to get the royals off this continent, and if we want ridiculous, self-absorbed aristocrats now, at this late hour, we’ll choose them from among our own celebrity rabble, thank you very much.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s great that we Americans and Brits can all be friends now, drinking iced tea and laughing together at the French, but please don’t ask me to care about Prince Harry’s problems with his buffoonish father, or Markle’s “fame-induced mental health problems,” as my colleague Emily Jashinsky aptly put it.
I get the argument for paying attention to the royals solely for purposes of entertainment, but the media—and social media—interest with this Oprah interview, and general obsession with the Harry and Meghan saga, goes well beyond that.
Maybe there’s something about their shameless fame-grubbing and glib sanctimoniousness that really sucks people in. Or maybe the spectacle of a B-list American actress leading her princely husband around by the nose and whining about the House of Windsor is simply irresistible. I could understand the entertainment value in that, maybe even get behind it. In a way, it’s kind of American.
But enough is enough. We’ve given these royals much more attention than they’re due. As for Harry and Meghan in particular, it’s hard to think of two royals that better exemplify Mark Twain’s observation that aristocracy is nothing but “a company of monarchs and nobles who, as a rule, would have achieved only poverty and obscurity if left, like their betters, to their own exertions.”