The Union Jacks are strewn above Regent Street and the commemorative tea cups are out, but according to a new poll from YouGov, the respected UK polling firm, Brits are feeling pretty meh about the impending wedding of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry. Roughly two thirds (66%) of British respondents said that they are not interested in Saturday’s wedding—with 60% saying they will carry on with the weekend as usual.
In addition, unlike when Prince William and Kate Middleton tied the knot, fewer Britons are bringing out the celebratory Pimms and twee cloth bunting for weekend street parties or village fêtes. The Independent noted that that applications for road closures received by local councils declined considerably compared to the last royal wedding in 2011. As the Independent noted, “Hertfordshire, declared the ‘street party capital’ of the UK for mustering the highest county total of 298 celebrations in 2011, is down 83 per cent to 51 street parties in 2018.” Where is their sense of pageantry!
But on the other side of the Atlantic, it feels like another story. An Ipsos poll released this week said that one in three Americans are interested in Saturday’s wedding. A report in the Guardian noted that the advertising spend and media coverage devoted to the affair is looking like it might outpace former royal nuptials.
Viewership for Meghan and Harry’s wedding is expected to exceed the 23 million Americans who tuned into Will and Kate’s, while US networks are expected to rake in $100 million in ad dollars thanks to the American almost-princess. Meanwhile, the major networks are sending over their top talent (Anderson Cooper, Savannah Guthrie, Megyn Kelly, and Christiane Amanpour to name a few) and the ceremony will, for the first time, be live-streamed in 200 movie theaters across the US.
New York media—which of course is in no way representative of America, but still—has been in a royal-induced tizzy for weeks now. The New York Time Styles section has written no fewer than 20 Royal Wedding pieces in the past six weeks covering everything from race to champagne to getting married in a castle. New York Magazine’s The Cut has a dedicated Royal Wedding expert and has turned the entire affair into something resembling an aristocracy-themed season of The Bachelor. It’s been so extreme that some British journalists are confused as to why, exactly, America is so obsessed.
There are some potential reasons for the perceived lack of interest on one side of the pond and the spike on the other. In the UK, the government opted not to give Britons a public holiday in honor of Meghan and Harry’s marriage. This is standard for a royal who is not in direct line to the throne, but it would’ve been the only surefire way that the activity of royals would harbor good will amongst their subjects. In addition, the ceremony is Windsor, not in London, meaning buzz in the capital is less than it was for Will and Kate’s (for which Britons got a Friday off). Finally, there is the significant swath of Britons who, far from seeing Saturday as a fairy tale, are against the concept of the monarchy altogether.
Meanwhile, in the US, the Americans finally have a skin in the game, one who is not only a famous actress but a norm-breaking mixed race one at that. In addition, says a source told the Guardian, the popularity of Netflix’s series The Crown primed audiences for a renewed interest in the Royal Family. And perhaps most of all? In this moment of endless Trump news, everyone might just be desperate to tune into a current event that is not politically divisive in tone.