I was slightly taken aback by the enormous media coverage that greeted the birth of a baby to singer Beyonce Knowles and her husband, Jay-Z.
I admit that I know little about their musical careers, nor have I listened to rap music in almost twenty years.
However, clearly the hysteria over the new infant suggests that stars of the magnitude of Jay-Z and Beyonce have reached the status of “royalty.” Beyonce is so famous that she only needs one name to be identified.
Similarly, the birth of a baby girl a few months ago to Indian superstar actress Aishwarya Rai created a media sensation in India (and wherever the Indian Diaspora exist in large numbers) that will likely not dissipate for years to come.
Every mundane aspect of Aishwarya’s life is dissected by an adoring Indian media for the ravenous public to consume. Certainly something as momentous as the birth of a baby elicited even more massive attention.
As with Beyonce, fans were wondering what Aishwarya would name her baby, indicating that the public remains addicted to the minutest details of the lives of their idols.
Yet, I can’t help but think that the media coverage of Beyonce and Aishwarya might pale in comparison to what will happen when the Duchess of Cambridge (a.k.a., Kate Middleton) and her husband Prince William have a child.
Given the Beatle- and Elvis-like craze that attended the Royal Wedding last spring (in tandem with the instant celebrity of Kate’s sister Pippa), the birth of a Royal baby would likely soar above either Beyonce and Aishwarya in terms of media coverage and public interest.
Even though the British Royal Family has no real power, and the tabloid media has forever tarnished their image by revealing the tawdry details of their lives (particularly in the case of Prince Charles and the former Lady Diana), the public (in Britain and elsewhere) remain fascinated by the UK monarchs. Not only is Kate Middleton already a global icon of beauty and elegance, but everything she says or does instantly appears on media outlets across the world.
I cannot imagine the kind of massive coverage her baby would bring -- it may shatter all prior records.
Of course, this is not “logical” at all. We live in a jaded, secular age and we all know that the royal family has not done anything to “deserve” their fame. Moreover, royal families in other countries are virtually unknown to the general public and receive scant attention.
So, what is it about the British Royal Family?
I think much of this interest is driven by the American media, which remains absolutely obsessed by the royals of the so-called “Mother Country.” Since the US is the world’s number one media market (and, by extension, the arbiter of global media trends), its interest in what goes on at Buckingham Palace translates into global fascination with the royals.
Part of it is of course based on Anglophilia, but I think it also has to do with the fact that the US has no royalty and vicariously thinks of the British monarchs as “their own.” (Countries like Spain, Japan and Holland also have royal families, but neither Hollywood nor Madison Avenues seems to care about them much).
Also, given that Kate just turned 30, she had better get a move on!