With her 65 years on the throne, her distinctive style and that ever-present purse, Queen Elizabeth II reigns as a beloved figure not just in her own United Kingdom but around the world — as evidenced by the success of the Netflix hit The Crown.
“Americans grow up watching Disney fairy-tale movies with queens, princes and princesses, which are all depicted as quite magical and romantic characters,” says Myka Meier, the founder and director of Beaumont Etiquette, a New York-based etiquette school that hosts courses focused on the British aristocracy. “The fact that in another similar country these figures actually exist creates a certain fascination that we develop from a very young age. It’s like the excitement of finding out that your favorite fairy tale is real.”
Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan, co-authors of The Royal We, a novel based loosely on Princess Kate and Prince William’s romance, cite several reasons for the Queen’s enduring popularity in the U.S.
“I’m sure a big part of the Queen’s popularity here is that we don’t have to stress about the taxpayer implications of the monarchy, so it’s all of the pomp and pageantry and none of the politics,” says Cocks. “But also, I think we’re realizing she’s an amazing example of girl power. She got her hands dirty as a mechanic during World War II. She’s been incredibly devoted to her public and charity work. She is the head of a challenging family and takes no B.S. from any of them. Most of all, she took a job because her country expected it of her, she’s done it tirelessly for 64 years even when it negatively affected her personal life, and the only time she’s ever slowed down is because she caught a cold at age 90-and-a-half. It’s hard not to be impressed by her.”
Morgan agrees, telling PEOPLE that she also thinks her popularity has to do with the fact that she’s been a part of pop culture for more than half a century.
“She’s become one of those people who are simply part of the fabric of people’s lives,” says Morgan. “She’s one of the few living people who are both part of history and pop culture at the same time.”
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As for the Queen’s take on her American admirers, “I think she understands it’s all out of respect and adoration, and probably has accepted the massive amount of attention they get is America’s way of showing endearment,” says Meier.
What’s more, “I imagine — when it comes right down to it — she doesn’t mind our tourist dollars,” says Morgan, whose humorous blog with Cocks, Go Fug Yourself, often covers royal fashion. “Buckingham Palace needs repairs, and we Americans are happy to tromp through it and admire it. So at least we’ve made ourselves useful.”