The Psychology Behind Our Obsession With The British Royal Family

Do you follow The Royal Family on Instagram? Have you been keeping up with Meghan Markle’s pregnancy since the first day it was announced? Were you at the edge of your seat – checking every social media outlet – once the baby was born, hoping to discover his new name as soon it was revealed? If so, you are one of many, one of many individuals who are – maybe to an unhealthy extent – concerned with the activities and personal lives of The British Royal family.

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry
Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, pose with their newborn son Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor | Photo by Dominic Lipinski – WPA Pool/Getty Images

From Prince William’s alleged affair to rumors of unequal treatment concerning Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle, The British Royal family has become a real-life soap opera for many. Tuning in to Royal family updates as you tune into a new episode of The Days of Our Lives, The British Royal family is under a constant spotlight, and – whether in the form of praise or scrutiny – our attention remains fixated.

So, what is it about the British Royal family that remains so captivating? Are they living in a particular way as to make their existences so deserving of constant observation? Real Simple sat down with Clinical Psychologist Tar Emrami, Ph. D. to discuss The British Royal Family and weigh in on the general public’s fascination with their day-to-day lives.

Tar Emrami, Ph. D. explains what about The British Family pulls us in

What’s so interesting about The British Royal Family is that they exist at the center of two very disparate types of conversations: ones that focus on the content inherent to gossip magazines and others that focus on politically-inclined news. While their lives are followed and scrutinized like the lives of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, they also serve a governmental function. However, outside of their Royal lineage, they would otherwise lack the level of fame they possess.

According to Tar Emrami, Ph. D.:

“It is our nature to identify individuals in the group that are one-of-a-kind for skills and uniqueness that precedes our own. The British Royal family has found a way to stay relevant and be present in the media. And the way that they portray the family is very relevant to people in that they have a family, they do normal stuff, they go to normal places, although they’re royal…”

Reader’s Digest

Dr. Emrami seems to imply that The British Royal family’s “although” factor is what makes them so fascinating. They are just like us…except. Except they are Royal. Fans are drawn in because they lead normal lives in the spotlight. Their unique factor is not necessarily talent – as is the case with actors, screenwriters, directors – but is a natural fact, one inherent to their existences alone (they were born Royal or are now married to a Royal family member).

The shift that began with Princess Diana

Dr. Tar Emrami goes on to explain that when Princess Diana became a Princess, “that allowed the Royal family to burst into a level of celebrity they never experienced before because here was a commoner who got there.” She was someone just like the rest of us, but then – instantly – she was “better.”

Reader’s Digest explains that “the everyday activities keep the royal family grounded in reality, while their status simultaneously keeps them exalted.” It is in this combination – the perfect balance of “special” and “ordinary” that seems to draw us into the lives of The British Royal family.

They are just like us except. So, the question is: is it a lifestyle that seems more attainable than other means of celebrity; more realistic than becoming the next Meryl Streep? Are we drawn in by the fact that the exaltation is not necessarily earned, but, instead, immediately given?