We media types sure are having fun with the upcoming royal wedding, but probably not for
the reasons you think.
We're having fun because the story is easy to cover and it's libel-proof. You can say just about anything you want about that blue-blooded crowd and not get into trouble.
We have our British brethren in the media to thank for this. They've been embellishing factoids about the royal family ever since the earth cooled, so everybody's used to it.
Blame the London weather for this unusual journalistic technique. It rains every nine minutes over there, so rather than suffer soggy shoes by going out and struggling to report on a story they won't get anyway, the "royal experts" stay inside where it's dry and think long and hard about what's probably going on behind the palace walls.
PRINCE WILLIAM'S SECRET SORROW!
KATE'S DEEPEST FEAR!
Well, what the hell. Who among us doesn't have a secret sorrow, or a deepest fear?
And if it's really a hot headline, the Brits just add a question mark to thwart litigation.
IS KATE PREGNANT?
WILLIAM'S SECRET MISTRESS?
(Rule of thumb: any time a royal headline is a question, the answer is "no.")
"Royal expert" is a term that covers quite a bit of turf. It's anybody with a British accent, the way anybody in New York with a vowel at the end of his name is an expert on organized crime. Or a criminal.
Believe it. My wife is British (and therefore a royal expert), and after ten years together she still thinks I'm secretly in the Mafia. I assure her that if this were true, we wouldn't be shopping for furniture at IKEA.
Royal stories are peppered with quotes from "sources close to" the palace. This is because even ambitious reporters have a tough time getting quotes from the royals themselves. Once the royals step outdoors they're usually riding in limousines, sliding on skis or galloping along on horseback.
They sure do move around! We like chasing the royals, the way we once enjoyed chasing America's answer to royalty, the Kennedys.
But times have changed. Now we're down to Caroline Kennedy and Edwin Schlossberg, and they're a nightmare for headline writers because a) they never do anything outrageous, and b) nothing rhymes with "Schlossberg."
So we turn to England to fulfill our need for royalty. Do you blame us?
Think of how they liven up the morning news shows! You can only watch so many "live shots" of Velveeta cheese eaters, staring blankly into the camera as they're asked what was going through their minds when the tornado carried their mobile homes over the cliff.
With the royals you get horses wearing plumed hats, palace guards who stand still for days at a time without blinking and goofy sword-and-helmet ceremonies galore. That's entertainment!
The royals are especially amusing when they get old. The best part of the Wimbledon tennis tournament is when it's all over, and the Duke and Duchess of Backhand stagger across the court to present the trophies.
It's a real nail-biter. Will they make it to the net? And if they do, will they remember why they're there? A five-set final can't compare to that kind of suspense!
Some of the best times of my life were spent in my grandmother's basement kitchen in the East New York section of Brooklyn, listening to my aunts and uncles criticize Queen Elizabeth. We'd sit around under exposed pipes in the ceiling, sipping Carlo Rossi wine from jelly jars and feeling superior.
Maybe that's what the fascination is really all about - deep down, we can all find a way to feel superior to royalty. And when readers and viewers feel superior to the rich and famous, they'll continue reading and tuning in.
So buckle up and brace yourselves for endless stories about this unbelievably excessive wedding, and all those nutty royals. They're fun to watch and easy to mock. And fortunately for generations of journalists to come, they breed well in captivity.
Charlie Carillo's latest novel is "One Hit Wonder." He's a producer for the TV show "Inside Edition." Before that he was a reporter and a columnist for the New York Post. Before that, he believed just about anything anyone told him.