Are the French obsessed with British royals, or are the royals just ‘celebrities’?

At this point, if I had to identify a defining characteristic for the British royals and their sycophants, I would say that they are all habitual projectors. Instead of stating their wants, needs or POVs directly, they obfuscate and project onto other people. Take, for example, King Charles and Queen Camilla’s French tour this week. The whole reason they’re prioritizing trips to Germany and France ahead of Commonwealth tours is because Brexit has left the UK politically, diplomatically and economically weakened and in dire need of closer European allies. Instead of acknowledging this need directly and admitting that Britain needs Macron more than Macron needs Britain, we get this piece in the Telegraph: “Why the French are obsessed with our Royal Family; Having ill-advisedly shortened their own royals a couple of centuries ago, our neighbours seek substitutes wherever they are to be found.” Much of this piece is just a history lesson of how various royals throughout history have loved to travel and party in France. But the overwhelming message is haughty and snide towards the French. It’s a weird way to treat the people you’re trying to woo, that’s all I’m saying.

The French republicans: For a people which rabbits on about republicanism as if they invented the thing, the French aren’t half obsessed with royalty – and, most notably, the British monarchy. Coverage of the present state visit by our royals has been extensive, notably as King Charles and President Macron presided over Wednesday’s remembrance ceremony at the Arc de Triomphe. They seemed to be getting on as pretty close friends. This followed wall-to-wall coverage of Queen Elizabeth II’s death, its aftermath and the subsequent funeral last year. Intense coverage kicked off again, earlier this year, for Charles’ coronation – going on, apparently, until even the most fervent French republican must have been beaten into submission.

Charles isn’t as popular as his mother: Granted, crowds on the Champs Elysées for Charles and Camilla’s 10 km/hour drive past were more sparse than the throngs which attended Queen Elizabeth’s visits – but what did we expect? Charles has been in the job for only five minutes, nowhere near long enough to build up the affection generated by his mother. But the enthusiasm still outstripped that attending any other conceivable state visit. And why wouldn’t it? Having ill-advisedly shortened their own royals a couple of centuries ago, our neighbours seek substitutes wherever they are to be found.

French gossip magazines love the British royals: None of these has ever rivalled the Windsors for column inches and the continuity of fascination. Magazines like Gala, Point de Vue and Paris Match have long been bursting forth with pretty much weekly bulletins on William and Kate, and the various travails of Harry and Meghan. They’re keen, too, on Charles and Camilla. I look forward to photos in all three magazines of our present queen trying to hold onto her hat in the Parisian wind yesterday. But our last queen – “The Queen,” said President Macron – stood apart and above. She was revered sufficiently to suggest that, were she to emulate her predecessor Edward III and claim the throne of France, there’d be a decent vote in favour.

Do the French think royals are merely celebrities? The welcome extended to the Queen on all these occasions – and to the King at the moment – isn’t simply that accorded to a celebrity, though certain French commentators claim there’s little difference. Nor is the interest only ironic, as smarter folk like to pretend. Whatever these people say, it’s obvious that British monarchs have real status in France. Of course, there’s the entertainment value but they also embody so many of the things which the French admire in the British – and admire simply in general, never mind the British connection: the spirit of “fair-play” (for which there’s no French word), restraint, elegance and resolution under stress, the sense of duty and getting on with stuff without invoking personal trauma – plus a frankly outstanding taste in ladies’ headgear.

They’re still waiting for people to forget Diana: There are ties which go beyond politics, trade – and the trading of insults. The Royals are their incarnation. And I’m pretty sure they’ll soon take to Charles as to his mother. Memories of his unhappy first marriage will fade.

[From The Telegraph]

I wondered, as I was reading along, if there would be any mention of the fact that Princess Diana died in Paris. Alas, Diana only got a breezy reference (not even by name) as Charles’s “unhappy first marriage.” For all this ranting and raving about QEII’s popularity, the Windsors and their media always have collective amnesia about Diana’s popularity across the world. French people loved Diana. Americans loved Diana. Indians loved Diana. Australians loved Diana. But no, we have to endure this blatant attempt to make Charles and Camilla into some internationally beloved figures. There’s another problem here too – from what I’ve seen, Charles is doing well and he actually is getting a good reception in France, possibly even a better reception than he expected. Why can’t that be enough? Why does it have to be “omg, the French are OBSESSED with Charles!”

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, Cover Images.

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26 Responses to “Are the French obsessed with British royals, or are the royals just ‘celebrities’?”

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  1. Ameerah M says:

    One major thing the whole saga of Meghan & Harry leaving the UK has solidified for me is that many people in the UK – especially the BM and Royalists – have an overinflated idea of the UK’s importance in the modern Geo-political landscape. Most of these folks voted for Brexit and still somehow believe the lie that Brexit was supposed to magically ELEVATE the UK’s standing. Instead of acknowledging what it actually did – which is render the UK nearly irrelevant. And maybe it’s simply that they are not smart enough to realize that this is what has happened.

    • Wannabefarmer says:


    • Tina says:

      This exactly!!! They really still think they are the centre of universe. It was so funny to see all the commentators before Harry’s book came out saying no one would buy it and it would be a flop because everyone in the UK hates them. Ok but you are a country of like 65 million people. There are 7 billion people on earth. The Uk really has an inaccurate sense of their importance in the current world order. You need the rest of us more than we need you.

    • fallingleaves says:

      The UK has forgotten that the British Empire is a thing of the past, and now for the most part they are “Little England” on the geopolitical scene.

      • bisynaptic says:

        Yup. It’s a common affliction of post-empire conquerors.

      • Tila says:

        I do get what you are saying, but there is a reason why people risk their lives daily to seek refuge here. Yes, the empire is gone but GB still has a gravitation due to its rich long history. I am republican and of colour so fully understand it’s terrible history, but to say it basically does not matter anymore is wrong.

  2. MF says:

    “Having ill-advisedly shortened their own royals a couple of centuries ago”

    But was it ill-advised? France better off today than the UK is. And I’d bet the French people don’t regret it at all! Methinks Charles and Camilla are just afraid of the Brits doing to them what the French did to their royals!

    • Jais says:

      Right? But was it ill-advised? Pretty sure no one in france wants to publicly fund Charles and Camilla. And while I really do like that voluminous Dior cape dresson Camilla, what I really love is how witchy it is. The pic above of Camilla walking with the full cape flowing behind her is so dramatic and so perfect for the upcoming Halloween season. She is truly one of the Witches of Windsor.

      • Bee (not THAT Bee) says:

        Camz is totally giving wicked witch in that pic and I love it for her.

        The author should check for a gas leak because this whole article is detached from reality. The British royals are obsessed with the British royals. They are high on their own supply.

        This entire piece is ridiculous. “The French would vote in the British queen!” As IF. “Memories of Diana will fade!” It’s been 25 years, hasn’t happened yet.

        I feel stupider for even having read it.

      • Tessa says:

        Kate gave wicked vibes in her coronation outfit and tinfoil tiara. Good costume for Halloween also

    • Danbury says:

      As someone who has worked with and around French people over the last 20 years, I can confirm that the French would happily launch another revolution before bringing the monarchy back. They view the British Royals like a circus act, fun to watch and mock, but nothing else.

  3. Missskitttin says:

    That article is a diplomatic disaster. At this point the British are Being outrightly narcissistic

  4. Amy Bee says:

    It’s hard to tell how big the crowds really are when the people who take the photos shoot them from a deceptive angle. I saw a photo of the alleged large crowd in Bordeaux and it was taken by somebody behind the crowd. 2-3 men deep doesn’t signify a huge crowd.

  5. Flowerlake says:

    I am not French, but there are many French people here and I never once heard them talk about the British Royal Family.

    If some Brit would tell any French person they are obsessed with their royal family, I would expect a long blank stare and then a lot of laughter, interspersed with some “merde”s.

    • Tennyson.sarah says:

      I’m French and find the article a cliche.
      I read various papers, including the very conservative Figaro + the readers’ comments.
      Poll in Figaro said 60% of the French population approved the way Charles was received “in general “. However, half of the French disapproved of the Versailles banquet and almost everyone is scandalised the air corridor between Paris & Bordeaux was reopened for an hour to acquiesce Charles’s demand. It takes 2 hours to go from Paris to Bordeaux by train and all flights, unless they’re connecting flights have been prohibited for more than 3 years. Charles’s route from Orly Airport to Bordeaux has been discontinued for longer and people are absolutely furious that we spent 1000’s to please the guy.
      I also read the Southwestern paper where Bordeaux is & called La Depeche and all the comments insult Charles because of his forcing to reopen a line.
      Most of the comments in the Figaro weren’t nice either. Most were written before it was confirmed Charles was to fly to Bordeaux, but hypocrite was present in every other comment.
      What the French appreciated was that he tried to speak French. I’m a teacher. His French isn’t fluent & Charles’s oral skills are limited mainly to reading. His mother could converse spontaneously. Still, we love it when foreigners speak our language.
      William wouldn’t be able to order a baguette et du fromage.

  6. Fleurette says:

    French here.🇬🇧 are much more obsessed with 🇨🇵 than the opposite. When we’re interested in BRF, it’s for the drama and nothing more. Never forget that we cut off the heads of our kings, vive la république 😎

  7. Lau says:

    I work near the Arc de Triomphe and I can tell you that most people cheering on that ride down the Champs-Élysées were in fact tourists.
    The three tabloids quoted in the telegraph are mostly made fun of for precisely only covering gossip garbage.
    And finally, French people don’t care so much about the other royal families, we just love the mess of the British one lol.

  8. MSTJ says:

    Kaiser’s summary of British royals and their sycophants is so on point here – “they are all habitual projectors”.

  9. lolalola says:

    I live in Paris and was talking to a French friend this week on why the French love the British royal family. She said that it was only because the British helped the French a lot in WWII and that is what people remember. When the queen died last year, I was shocked to see people crying on the street. But, they like Charles less the Elizabeth II and William far less than Charles. One thing Charles does have going for him is that he speaks French and the French have great respect for anyone that takes their language seriously. Willy’s French is a joke and he would not get the same kind of reception that we have seen this week. The fact was not lost on any of the French public that a dinner for Chuck and Cammie was held a Versailles. Nobody writes about how brilliant the British are but the British. Hell, they still think they have an empire.

  10. Marion says:

    French here and we are certainly not obsessed with the BRF. We love their drama, it’s more entertaining than the Grimaldis. We don’t care much about the Spanish and Swedish royal families.
    The Brits are like distant cousins we love to hate and if we go to see a Royal such as the windsors, it’s merely out of curiosity because it’s hard to imagine people live just like it’s still the 1790’s.
    We haven’t had royals since 1793 so it’s fun to see these outdated, obsolete people!

    And Macron acts like a king, that’s why he’s not very popular.

  11. Meredith says:

    I was under the impression that any self-respecting French person wouldn’t be caught dead saying that they admired the English (as a nation) in anything? But go off I guess.

  12. May says:

    So, the UK royals enjoy “real status” (what the hell does that even mean?) because:

    “the spirit of “fair-play” (for which there’s no French word), restraint, elegance and resolution under stress, the sense of duty and getting on with stuff without invoking personal trauma – plus a frankly outstanding taste in ladies’ headgear.”

    Is this meant to be a joke? I would take serious issue with any of these points mentioned. I am most insulted on behalf of the French with this writer’s insistence that (presumably) Camilla has outstanding taste in hats! Bleecchhh!

  13. bisynaptic says:

    The article is a pacifier to the Tories’ Brexit base. What it ignores is not only Diana’s enduring popularity, but the fact that Charles’s own popularity has only decreased and will probably continue to decline

    • Jane says:

      Also these tours make little to no difference in the long run. C&C were well received in Germany and I have yet to see how that tour has benefited the UK. The German tour is largely forgotten because it was not memorable in any way just like this one will be in a few months. It’s all theatre. The famous ‘soft power’ of the royals is not much use in a Europe where trade deals with the EU Will only be agreed if they benefit the EU. Not because people like the royals.

  14. someChick says:

    European here: nobody in Europe cares that much about BRF, or any royal family. Most European countries were monarchies at some point, but nowadays royals are viewed as symbolic. I was actually surprised about the interest Americans have about this.