DURHAM, N.H. – Americans maintain a vexed relationship with aristocracy. We pride ourselves in not having one, but our fantasy lives are completely peopled by royals, according to James Krasner, professor of English at the University of New Hampshire. So it’s no surprise that Americans are eagerly anticipating the wedding of Britain’s Prince William and Kate Middleton this week.
“This is true with respect to romance and especially true for girls, who are saturated in ‘princess’ terminology and paraphernalia from a very early age,” says Krasner, whose teaching interests include American Anglophilia.
“Falling in love means falling in love with a prince. Period,” he says. “Since we don't have any princes, and the only English-speaking ones are in England, the pickings are slim for Americans to live out their royal wedding fantasies.”
Americans sometimes identify people as princes -- John F. Kennedy Jr. being the obvious recent example -- or read The New York Times wedding announcements. According to Krasner, this gets us halfway through the door of our royal wedding fantasy. “But deep down we know they aren't the real thing. They're just rich people whose parents are also rich people. While they live in towns with English-sounding names like Greenwich, they're really just in Connecticut,” he says.
“So it’s no wonder we love these royal brides, like Diana and Kate, who are ‘commoners.’ Diana actually was about as aristocratic as you can get without actually being the queen, but in America we pretended she wasn’t because we wanted a story about a regular girl marrying a prince,” Krasner says.
“Kate Middleton seems the perfect combination; common but classy; nonaristocratic but wealthy. Look at her a little sideways and she might be an American girl -- from Greenwich,” he says.
The University of New Hampshire, founded in 1866, is a world-class public research university with the feel of a New England liberal arts college. A land, sea, and space-grant university, UNH is the state's flagship public institution, enrolling more than 12,200 undergraduate and 2,200 graduate students.