It’s being dubbed the friendly invasion – scores and scores of American journalists and broadcasters over here to witness one of their own getting married into the British royal family.
Celebrated news anchor and reporter for America’s CNN channel, Richard Quest, is no stranger to covering big British royal events. The Queen Mother’s funeral, the Diamond Jubilee and the wedding of Prince William and Catherine all saw him in London reporting back to an eager American public.
Most observers believe the US audience figures for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding will outstrip the 23 million who watched Prince William tie the knot in 2011.
Quest confirms the interest from across the Atlantic is huge. “Harry may be a more distant heir to the throne but he’s extremely popular in the US, and never more so since he chose to marry an American.
“So even though this won’t be the big set-piece occasion – it’s not Westminster Abbey, not the ‘full monty’ – people are still excited about the royal prince and the girl from LA. I was in Miami last week and people were stopping me to ask me about it.”
What he calls an “invasion” of US broadcasters – CNN alone is deploying a staff of more than 30 – is, in part, a response to the desire of their viewers for light relief.
“There’s so much tough, difficult news at the moment that, rightly or wrongly, everyone has latched onto this wedding for a bit of glamour. The public see her as a real-life American princess.”
Their interest is also fuelled by what Quest calls “the diversity question”. He says: “It’s an issue that reaches almost obsessional levels in the USA, and while of course it’s awful that we’re still talking about this in 2018, there are undeniably deep race issues in the US today, so Meghan’s African-American heritage is a focus especially for that community.
“There is interest in the fact that it’s not just as an American but a mixed-race American that she’s bringing something new to an old institution.”
Meghan’s fame is in marked contrast to her pre-Harry days. “She was a perfectly respectable actress with a decent portfolio, but was she well known? Not really. Now of course she finds herself in the biggest real-life role she’ll ever play, and I think she knows exactly what to do with it.
“She brings a professionalism in dealing with the public spotlight that even Wills and Harry, who have been doing it all their life, don’t have. She knows how to tickle the cameras under the chin.”
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