Can Boomer Anglophiles Keep the Love Going?

Definition: Anglophile—a person who greatly admires or favors England and things English.

Question: Why are so many Americans Anglophiles?

With the wedding tomorrow and the internet, newspapers and magazines full of the William and Kate story, Anglophiles have been coming out of the closet.  People you would never guess: got up early for Diana and Charles’s wedding, baked cakes to honor Queen Elizabeth’s official June birthday, cried during Diana’s funeral—saving  every printed article about her life.  Now many Anglophile Americans, or those who are just curious and like festival, are planning to experience this Royal Wedding in a big way.

In my small Midwest city, British Clubs are gathering, but so are loosely formed groups of women who will be up early wearing feathered hats, drinking tea and eating an English breakfast in their ranch houses and tri-levels.  Larger groups across the country will celebrate with English-themed dances and parties.

Some would say it’s just natural to hold on to good news happening in the world when there is war and division in so many areas of our lives.  But there’s a deeper reason.  We hardly blink if the royal families of the Scandinavian countries or Spain or Greece marry and give birth to their prince and princesses.

The tie that binds us to Great Britain and will forever is our language.   Yes, America is a melting pot of many cultures and backgrounds.  But Americans speak English and this we share with our once mother country.

I experienced this sense of place and belonging when traveling in Europe.  Though it was a decade ago, and every year increasing numbers of people in European countries speak English, I still felt like I was coming home when landing at Dover after a week in France.  There was no doubt that I would be understood.  I knew I could easily discover whatever I needed to know during my travels.  Shared language gives a person comfort and security.   The real or metaphorical Tower of Babel looms in my mind and in many ways I regret it once again.

Americans share a language and a great deal of culture with the British: the Beatles, Pomp and Circumstance (written by a British composer), many aspects of fashion, theatre, film and always literature.

We boomers and our parents read Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, Jane Austen’s novels, Wordsworth’s poetry and of course Shakespeare’s plays.  They are part of our youth.  They opened up windows in our world so that English décor and countryside became firm images in our minds.   I don’t think there’s a schooled boomer today who doesn’t know that the English King, Henry VIII, had a lot of wives.  The recent HBO production, The Tudors, aided that.  And what about Masterpiece Theater that for years supplied an American audience with dramatic presentations of novels and plays mostly of British culture: Upstairs Downstairs and The Forsyth Saga being two primary examples.

We might laugh and mock the British accent, the social class distinctions they often adhere to and the proverbial cup of tea—but again we are attracted by the various dialectical differences and enjoy riding in a lift, knowing what a lorry is and adopting British naughty words like bloody and shagging.

The grand buildings of our mother country greatly influenced our American architecture, especially our government buildings, museums and churches.  And who cannot identify the English Tudor homes found in many cities in the United States.

Confession: I became an Anglophile when I discovered in the ‘50s that the Queen of England had my name.  The Brothers Grimm and Disney had already filled my head  with images of princesses and queens and so off to the library I went to read British history.   Then in seventh grade I received a hand written note from Lady Rose Barron, Lady in Waiting to the Queen.  Written on stiff ivory stationery embossed with the Royal Crest, it was a form letter telling me that “no” I could not be Prince Charles’ pen-pal.  Over the years I collected photos, made scrapbooks and sent more letters.  My Anglophile mother who made numerous trips to England and still reads a magazine called REALM always encouraged me.  We are of German descent!

My own daughters do not have that passion.  Today’s youth may continue to admire the English, but certainly how William and Kate’s life together inspires their own countrymen will greatly influence the number of younger American Anglophiles.

Quiz: You Might Be an Anglophile. Check the statements below to see.

____ You enjoy sausage and broiled tomatoes for breakfast;

____ Your idea of an afternoon snack is scones, clotted cream, and a steeped cup of tea;

____ You have owned a red mailbox that reads POST;

____ You drive a Bentley;

____ One of your daughters is named Elizabeth, Anne, Victoria, Jane or Katherine;

____You have floral (mostly roses) wallpaper, sheets, table linens or china in your home;

____You call soccer, football;

____ You’re going to get up early and watch William marry Kate;

____ You get a thrill when you hear the music on this youtube link