/ 1 May 2011

US media renews its romance with the British royals

One fascinating thing about the royal nuptials was deciding why some 850 reporters from all over the world descended on London to vamp up an international TV audience that could not possibly reach the predicted two billion. And, within that, why every big US network splashed out as never before, dispatching their big news hitters (plus the likes of Cat Deeley and Sharon Osbourne as etiquette experts) to sit in UK studios talking dresses, regimental uniforms and knights of the garter.

Did millions of Americans really want to get up at 4am to watch a couple of long-term partners tie the knot before they turned 30? And why on earth should they care?

Mush and gush
Meet the chicken, meet the egg: Americans told Pew Centre pollsters that only 8% of them had been following the wedding build-up closely — and 64% thought it had had too much coverage. But Nielsen researchers also reported that twice as much reportage over the last six months had been generated in the US (far outscoring a low-key Britain). You knew that most Brits would stir into interest at the spectacle late on: after all, Britons were paying for it. But why such mush and gush in the mightiest republic?

Mix a few kilos of Cecil B DeMille with a good drench of Diana. Throw in the merest pinch of special relationship. Stir while watching The King’s Speech on DVD. Let Piers Morgan earn his CNN crust playing David Dimbleby for the day. But otherwise see this as a triumph of relentless mass marketing. “We’ve had a lot of bad news lately, and if you’re someone who finds this diversion interesting and exciting, then I think that’s great,” said Dan Rather, the former CBS news anchor. In short, escape to Fairytaleland; escape — if you’re the Huws and Fionas of ABC, NBC, Fox and the rest — to London in spring, all expenses paid and new hats for the ladies every breakfast TV morning. Who needs Kabul when you can have the Mall?

And don’t forget the small, stony heart of Mush Central (far harder than for Di and Charles three decades ago). Here’s People magazine plugging 60 special pages of coverage. Here’s the supermarket Star, “revealing” that Kate’s already a “pregnant bride” according the “palace insiders”. Here’s a tacky instant movie where the actors playing Charles and William have unbelievable amounts of hair.

This is Dianaworld 30 years on, celebrity-sodden, content bereft. It’s Britney or Sheen or Kim Kardashian with added glitz. It’s as meaningful and enduring as the last edition of OK! “The idea that we can’t afford to throw resources at an important foreign story, but can afford to spend this kind of money on a story like the royal wedding is just plain wrong,” Rather went on. But then Rather, once a king among anchormen, seems somehow out of it now. Too serious, too engaged, too damned much in a land where, on every newsstand, on every flat screen, there is no escape from escapism. – guardian.co.uk