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A Royal Obsession, Do Americans Care?

Britain's Prince William and his fiance Kate Middleton applaud as they watch a play at the Youth Action Centre in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Tuesday March 8, 2011.

The U.S. media have made sure Americans don’t miss out on a single detail about the upcoming wedding of Britain’s Prince William to Kate Middleton. But what do Americans in Washington really think of the royal wedding mania?

American TV morning shows and 24-hour news channels make it seem as though Americans can’t get enough of the royal affair. But Americans in the capital, Washington, seem to have mixed feelings.

"I haven't really paid attention to it. There's other things going on that seem to be more important than that," one woman said.

M.C. Corson, a tourist visiting Washington D.C., disagrees. "I do like to follow it when I can. And I especially like sorta following sorta how Kate's become a real fashion icon," she said.

Tourist John McKee Heyniger isn't interested. "It just doesn’t have any concern to me. It's his business. It's, you know, an English wedding and I am American," he said.

But American media outlets will give them a front row seat, anyway. Leading American television anchors from networks, like ABC and CNN, will be in London to catch the first glimpse of Kate Middleton’s dress. Even The Weather Channel will deliver special royal wedding forecasts, and the American cable network, Lifetime, has made a William & Kate movie.

Media studies professor Andrea Press says American enthusiasm for this month’s royal wedding is not unique. Thirty years ago, 750 million people tuned in for the wedding of Prince William’s parents, Prince Charles and Princess Diana.

Press says Americans are mesmerized by the fact that Kate, born a commoner, could become the Queen of England.

"The obsessive focus on everyday detail in our coverage of celebrity helps us to imagine ourselves in their position or helps us to deconstruct the mystique of these famous people, and imagine they are ordinary people just like you and me," Press explained.

Americans are not the only ones talking about the royal occasion. The Irish have searched the term "Kate Middleton" on Google more than the British. And people in Canada, New Zealand and the Philippines have searched the future princess’s name more than Americans.

Royal expert and blogger Cheryl Anderson Brown says Queen Elizabeth II’s leadership of the Commonwealth of Nations gives the monarchy global popularity.

"There are so many nations formerly part of the empire British empire that are now still part of the Commonwealth that consider the queen to be their monarch. So, it is really the royal family of so many nations around the world," Brown said.

Whatever the reason may be, an estimated two billion people are expected to tune in for the April 29 wedding. And many will be Americans, who will have to wake up extra early, 6:00 am Washington D.C. time, to watch the wedding live.