"Monkeys in a cage!"
That's what my father would say every Sunday after we returned home from mass. We'd be sitting down to brunch at our dining table -- which faced the street -- just as the Hollywood tour buses began streaming through Beverly Hills. Then we'd hear the tour guide through his megaphone: "And here's the house of TV star Danny Thomas!"
That's when Dad would get up, lower the blinds and talk about monkeys.
Growing up in the Hollywood fishbowl is one thing -- but it's nothing compared to the breathless frenzy surrounding the lives of Britain's royal family. If we were the monkeys, they're the gorillas. Didja hear the news that Princess Kate and Prince William had a baby boy this week? He even knocked Anthony Weiner off the front page.
God, how we love the royals. Funny, because our country's whole existence is based on the desire to break away from the throne. Yet we're always looking for our own royalty. We like to talk about our dynasties (the Bushes) and our royal family of Camelot (the Kennedys). It's clear that, for all the revolutionary blood that was shed, we are in a perpetual state of Royal Envy.
There are no carriages taking us to our weddings. No beefeaters guarding our houses. Who wouldn't enjoy a little of that pomp and pageantry now and then?
But I think it's more than all that: It's the dependable Easter egg-colored suit. And the matching hat. And the ever-present, stiff little bag on her arm. It's the Queen, the shining symbol of consistency in a world that too often seems to be spinning out of control.
Here across the pond, we recognize how the Queen, in her own crisp way, provides comfort for her subjects -- that enviable historical and emotional connection. Prime ministers come and go, wars begin and end, styles are in and out, and yet she has been there for 60 years. Face it, the lady is on the money. Literally.
And we crave that. Why else would we all flock to see every Helen Mirren depiction of Her Highness? Why else would "The King's Speech" storm our theatres and seduce Oscar? And why else would we all be holding our breath until "Downton Abbey" opens its castle doors for another season? We may be Americans, but deep down our blood is royal blue.
So, for all those who are rolling their eyes at the media hype, there are those of us who are enjoying it all as the come-to-life embodiment of the fairy tales that enchanted us when we were children.
Congratulations Catherine and William. Welcome Baby George. And a special bow to Great-Grandma. I can't wait for the christening so I can see your new hat.
On July 24th, Kate Middleton and Prince William emerged from St. Mary's hospital to present little George Alexander Louis – heir to the British throne – to the world. Many noted that Kate's polka-dotted dress was most likely an intentional tribute to another similar event that happened 31 years ago.
In June of 1982, Princess Diana also wore polka dots as she and Prince Charles presented their new baby, William Arthur Phillip Louis -- more commonly known as Prince William – to a breathless public and media frenzy.
It is worth noting that the current Queen – Elizabeth II -was never intended to take the throne. It was only due to a major scandal in which her uncle, King Edward VIII, abdicated the throne in 1936 so that he could marry the woman he loved – an American two-time divorcee named Wallis Simpson. When he abdicated, his younger brother – Elizabeth's father -- assumed the throne.
The future Queen Elizabeth II (center) waves from the balcony of Buckingham Palace at the coronation of her father, King George VI, on May 12, 1937. It was King George who was the subject of the 2010 film, "The King's Speech."
In February of 1952, Elizabeth was in Kenya with her husband, Prince Phillip, when her ailing father, King George VI, died of cancer. At just 25 years old, she became Queen of England. Here, she makes her first ever Christmas broadcast to the nation from Sandringham House, Norfolk.
The Queen's formal coronation did not take place until June of 1953, but it marked a new era of hope and prosperity in post-war England. The Queen's husband, Prince Phillip, is on the right, and her two eldest children, Prince Charles and Princess Anne, stand in the middle.
It was Princess Margaret, the Queen's younger sister, who became the next Royal tabloid sensation in the 1950s when she announced her desire to marry Peter Townsend, a divorcee 16 years her senior. The marriage was forbidden, and Margaret went on to marry the dashing Antony Armstrong-Jones whom she would eventually divorce. Over the years, Margaret's romances, travels, parties and scandals kept the tabloids and the public enthralled.
The Queen and Prince Phillip ultimately had four children – Prince Charles, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward, seen here in a 1968 portrait.
Seen here in 1975, The Queen's mother – affectionately known as "the Queen Mum" – was especially popular with the British public. She lived to be 101 years old, passing away in March of 2002.
When Lady Diana Spencer married Prince Charles in 1981, the level of media attention and tabloid frenzy was unprecedented. Diana instantly became a global superstar, often eclipsing her husband, and ultimately she became one of the most photographed women in the world. And as the years unfolded, so did the royal marriage in a series of scandals that made headlines around the world. Diana and Charles finally divorced in 1996.
When Prince Andrew married Sarah Ferguson in 1986, the public loved her bubbly personality and relaxed attitude. She and Diana became fast friends, but this fairy tale did not last either. After having two daughters, Eugenie and Beatrice, the couple divorced in 1996, and "Fergie" proceeded to fall from public favor through a series of romantic and financial scandals.
When Prince William and Prince Harry were young, Diana went to great lengths to give them as normal an upbringing as possible. She knew they would always be held to a different standard, but she wanted them to know what the real world was like. Whether they were visiting amusement parks or homeless shelters, Diana's parenting style was almost universally applauded.
When Diana died in a Paris car crash in August of 1997, an unprecedented outpouring of grief spread across the globe, surprising not only the Royal family but the whole world. One of the most poignant details of her funeral was a simple card from Harry that was placed in the flowers atop her casket. On the envelope, he had simply written "Mummy."
Prince Charles walks with Harry and William outside Diana's home, Kensington Palace, in the days after her death.
In 2005, with the blessing of his two sons, Prince Charles – heir to the throne – finally married his longtime love, Camilla Parker-Bowles. The marriage made her Duchess of Cornwall, but since she too is a divorcee, she will never officially become Queen -- she will remain a Duchess.
April 29, 2011 – Prince Charles, Michael and Carole Middleton, Prince Phillip, the Queen and Camilla gather at Westminster Abbey for one of the most anticipated weddings in history.
Prince Andrew was also in attendance with his daughters Eugenie and Beatrice (and their hats!) The girls' mother, Sarah Ferguson, was not invited.
The wedding of William and Catherine once again signalled the beginning of a new era for the Royal Family. Of course, there were inevitable comparisons to Charles and Diana, but it truly seemed like this time would be different. The spectacular ceremony restored a sense of hope and optimism that had been dimmed in years past, and the stylish, young couple has captured the interest of a whole new generation of global royal watchers.
Aware of the ever-present media watching her every step, Kate presented a polished and sophisticated image throughout her pregnancy.
With the birth of the Royal baby, Prince Harry (a tabloid favorite in his own right) moves from third in line to fourth in line for the throne. Prince Charles will succeed the Queen, and William will succeed Charles. And if the monarchy is still intact after William's reign, the new baby prince we all just met will become King of England.
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