A dear friend of mine woke up at 4 a.m. on Friday morning to watch the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. The media frenzy surrounding this wedding has always intrigued me from a distance: I’m curious about the reasons why Americans are fascinated, yet not curious enough to try to become one of them.
So when my friend asked if I’d watched the wedding (I didn’t, though I woke up to NPR discussing it) and proceeded to tell me she had, I took the opportunity to interrogate her. One obvious question needed to be answered immediately: Why did you wake up at 4 a.m. to watch this?
“I can’t believe I woke up at 4 a.m., I’m going to be dead by the end of the day,” she said. “I’m also a hopeless romantic. As much as I try to fight it. And, I love the history behind it all.”
In no way was she the only one to do this. A foundation of the psychology of marketing is the idea that people love to be part of a group, a loyal following of someone or something. (My favorite exploration of this is in Martin Lindstrom’s Buyology.) It’s what all successful brands are based on.
My friend has always been fascinated by the royal family; it’s not just specific to Kate and William. I think my generation can say that as children, the media attention on Charles and Diana forced them to be a peripheral part of our lives. Tabloids, TV shows, nightly news: they were everywhere. In fact, when I was a kid, when my parents told me to clean my room, I motivated myself by imagining Princess Diana was coming to visit and that’s why I needed to clean my room. And of course, her death in 1997 was in the media for a very long time. My friend and I were both 14.
Interestingly, my friend says she really didn’t pay attention to a lot of the media hullabaloo leading up to William and Kate’s wedding.
“I’ve watched some of the specials, but I wanted to go at the wedding with fresh eyes,” she explained. “Although, I probably know more than the average American,” she added.
She certainly is full of fun facts, such as: the tiara that Kate wore was on loan from the Queen. It was the tiara given to her by her parents on her 18th birthday.
She also, along with many women of my generation, had a huge crush on William.
“When I was in London, I made it a point to drag this one friend with me everywhere in hopes that we would see him, and he would fall madly in love with me. And I’d be a real princess once and for all,” she laughed.