Left: The Prince and Princess of Wales returning from their 1981 wedding
For a nation that was created by men espousing the virtues of representative government - and who railed against the abuses of English monarchs - citizens of the United States display a curious affinity for all matters royal. The latest example of American monarchophilia can be found in the crowds flocking to see Sofia Coppola's sympathetic portrayal of the Capetians in Marie Antoinette, which has been drawing about $6,000 per screening since it opened last weekend with a total US take of over $5 million in three days.
Coppola's film should easily pass the box office gross of another recent cinematographic effort to rehabilitate the historical reputation a of despotic monarch, The Madness of King George , which raked in $15 million in domestic theaters in 1994. Thank goodness for Hollywood, or we might continue to harbor resentment against monarchy.
The traffic drawn by these films, of course, pales in comparison with American attention paid to living monarchs. The 1981 wedding of Charles and Diana found 58 million Americans glued to their television sets, while the funeral of Princess Diana drew an estimated 33 million US viewers. American news and cable networks devoted over 25 hours of programming to the funeral of Diana.
For those among you who might argue that we already have a tyrannical despot in our current President, you should know that Diana is a thirteenth cousin once removed from George W. Bush, so he at least has a minute - though very distant - claim to the throne.
Maybe what Americans really want is a firm royal hand to whack them when they need it. Perhaps, deep down, we would collectively prefer to let parasitic social "betters" run the country.
After all, we allow corporations and special interest groups to buy our politicians for us. Americans could take the tens of billions spent on national, state, and local elections and buy ourselves some expensive monarchs to worship.
Then we could begin the process of revolution all over again. This time we might just get it right.