Kings, Dukes and Princesses, Oh My
When American actress Meghan Markle weds Prince Harry of Wales in May 2018, she'll fulfill a fantasy for many American girls: marrying a prince and gaining a royal title. Outside of marriage, there's little chance of Americans obtaining one. The U.S. simply doesn't have any aristocracy or monarchy in place to facilitate such a system. That said, a couple of notable American citizens have earned their titles through marriage, including actress Grace Kelly, who married Prince Rainier III of Monaco in 1956 and urban planner Lisa Halaby who wed King Hussein of Jordan in 1978 and became Queen Noor [source: Courtney].
So what accounts for this American fascination with titles and the British royal family? (They're not so interested in other European royal families). Is it just princess fever courtesy of Disney movies or a love of imported dramas like "Downton Abbey"?
It's been suggested that the reason is Americans see the British royal family as the equivalent of a long-running soap opera or reality show. But Boston University historian Arianne Chernock thinks it is about the special relationship between Britain and America. She told The New York Times that Anglophilia in the U.S. dates back to just after the American Revolution ended British rule in the 13 colonies. "There is a desire to retain that strong cultural tie, and I think that persists to this day," she told the Times.
Meanwhile Britain remains fond of their royals too. Despite some complaints about the amount of money it costs to maintain them, the percentage of the population that wants to do away with them has remained at 18 to 19 percent from 1969 to 2011.
Titles in Europe are still typically passed down from father to eldest son, with daughters unceremoniously skipped over (which means the title sometimes goes to a distant male cousin.) Efforts have been made in recent years to alter this practice. This potential change to hereditary peerage, as it's known, is still tied up in debate as of 2018 [sources: Parliament UK, Shapiro]. The law was changed to give equal succession to females in the British royal family in 2011.