William, Kate greeted with fanfare in N.Y.C.: Do Americans really love royals?

On a three-day trip to the US, Prince William and Kate, Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, hope to raise awareness for charitable causes close to their hearts, among other things. Throngs lined up Monday.

Seth Wenig/AP
Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, laughs while visiting a pre-school class at the Northside Center for Childhood Development, Monday, in New York.

Why are Americans so excited about the New York arrival of William and Catherine, Duke and Duchess of Cambridge

New Yorkers have greeted the British royal couple, who arrived Sunday, with the kind of fanfare typically reserved for pop stars.

On the docket for their their three-day trip to the United States is a meeting at the White House between Prince William and President Obama, Kate's meeting with Chirlane McCray, wife of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, and a trip to the Barclays Center to see the Brooklyn Nets face off against His Majesty, King (LeBron) James, of the Cleveland Cavaliers. 

The couple also hopes to raise awareness for charitable causes close to their hearts. 

"They are doing a number of things to support charities they really care about – disadvantaged young people, mental health, illegal wildlife trade, which is something they have worked on in the past," the British ambassador to the US, Sir Peter Westmacott, told ABC News

To that end, on Monday William discussed with Mr. Obama his work to protect endangered species around the world, which the president called "very important," according to BBC News

The prince expounded on his work later in the day when he spoke to the World Bank. He said, "In my view, one of the most insidious forms of corruption and criminality in the world today is the illegal wildlife trade." And he criticized people who "loot our planet to feed mankind's ignorant craving for exotic pets, trinkets, cures, and ornaments derived from the world's vanishing and irreplaceable species," the BBC reported. 

Meanwhile, Kate toured a Harlem child development center with Ms. McCray. The cold temperatures Monday morning didn't stop throngs from lining up, eager to catch a glimpse of royalty. 

Lauren Nichols, who traveled from Ohio to see the duchess, expressed her enthusiasm. 

"I'm a huge Kate fan. I'm a 'Mini Middleton,' " she told CBS New York. "Right now it's all about Kate." 

For others, the visit was an opportunity to draw attention to mental health issues. 

"Her Royal Highness is very passionate about mental health, children's mental health, global mental health, and that is absolutely what we care about," Thelma Dye of the Northside Center for Child Development told CBS New York. 

And yet, for all the hoopla, do Americans really love the British royals?

Writing in the British newspaper the Telegraph last year, Sally Peck commented that Americans "just don't get the British Royal family." In her view, the "lowbrow US press" tends to view them as any old celebrity family, à la the Kardashians. Conversely, she writes that the "highbrow US press" looks upon the royal family as a "British eccentricity" that is anathema to democracy and perpetuates the "princess myth" – the idea that girls should aspire to marry rich to succeed in the world.

Writing about the birth of the royal baby in The New York Times last year, Lauren Apfel noted the danger of "princess" culture being exposed to girls who are taught from a young age to admire women with unnaturally thin bodies, extravagant accessories, and "an arbitrary title." Instead, "Our daughters need real heroes to emulate ... women who can be admired for their strength, of purpose, their brains, their prowess," she wrote of one line of reasoning.

To this, Ms. Peck replied that not only was the "princess myth" fabricated by the likes of Disney, an American company, but that the royal family is in fact emblematic of "hard work, taste, duty and composure in public." 

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