CoverIntroductionKey Civics and Government ConceptsDefining Critical Media LiteracyCritical Media Literacy GuidesTopic 1. Foundations of the United States Political System1.1 Social Media Policies and Community Standards on YouTube, Twitter, TikTok and More1.2 The Internet as a Public Utility1.3  21st Century Women STEM Innovators1.4 Media Coverage of Kings, Queens, and Royal Families1.5 Representations of Native Americans in Films, Local History Publications, and School MascotsTopic 2. The Development of United States Government2.1 Declarations of Independence on Social Media2.2 Media Marketing and Government Regulation of Self-Driving Cars and Electric Vehicles2.3 Representations of and Racism Toward Black Americans in the Media2.4 Political Debates Through Songs from Hamilton: An American Musical2.5 Bill of Rights on TwitterTopic 3. Institutions of United States Government3.1: Hollywood Movies About the Branches of Government3.2: Writing an Impeachment Press Release3.3: Members of Congress' Use of Social Media3.4: Political Impacts of Public Opinion Polls3.5: Website Design for New Political PartiesTopic 4. The Rights and Responsibilities of Citizens4.1: Immigration in the News4.2: Portrayals of Immigrants in Television and Film4.3: COVID-19 Information Evaluation4.4: Women Political Leaders in the Media4.5: Online Messaging by Special Interest Groups4.6: Digital Games for Civic Engagement4.7: Social Media and the Elections4.8: Images of Political Leaders and Political Power4.9: Media Spin in the Coverage of Political Debates4.10: Celebrities' Influence on Politics4.11: Political Activism Through Social Media4.12: Media Recruitment of Public Sector Workers4.13 Deciding What Books Students Read in School4.14: Images of Teachers and Teaching4.15: For Whom Is and Could Your School Be Named4.16: Representing Trans Identities4.17: Media Framing of the Events of January 6, 20214.18: Music as Protest Art4.19: PACs, Super PACs, and Unions in the Media4.20 Brands and PoliticsTopic 5. The Constitution, Amendments, and Supreme Court Decisions5.1: Prohibition in the Media5.2: The Equal Rights Amendment on Twitter and Other Social Media5.3: Civil War Era News Stories and Recruitment Advertisements5.4: Representations of Gender and Race on U.S. Currency5.5: The Equality Act on Twitter5.6: Reading Supreme Court Dissents Aloud5.7: Television Cameras in CourtroomsTopic 6. The Structure of State and Local Government6.1: Native American Mascots and Logos6.2: A Constitution for the Internet6.3: Military Recruitment and the Media6.4: Your Privacy on Social Media6.5: Pandemic Policy Information in the Media6.6: Gendered Language in Media Coverage of Women in Politics6.7: Gender-Neutral Marketing of Toys 6.8: Environmental Campaigns Using Social Media6.9: Trusted Messengers, the Media, and the Pandemic6.10: Online Campaigning for Political Office6.11: Advertising the Lottery Online and In Print6.12: Local Governments, Social Media and Digital Democracy6.13: Protecting the CommonsTopic 7. Freedom of the Press and News/Media Literacy7.1: Press Freedom in the United States and the World7.2: Objectivity and Reporting the News from All Sides7.3: Investigative Journalism and Social Change7.4: News Photographs & Newspaper Design7.5: How Reporters Report Events7.6: Recommendation Algorithms on Social Media Platforms7.7: YouTube Content Creators7.8: Fake News Investigation and Evaluation7.9: Paywalls and Access to Online News7.10: Critical Visual Analysis of Online and Print Media7.11: Memes and TikToks as Political Cartoons7.12: Women Reporters in the Movies7.13: Design a 21st Century Indie Bookstore 7.14: Greenwashing and the Media7.15: AI Writing Tools and Political Information
Critical Media Literacy and Civic Learning

1.4 Media Coverage of Kings, Queens, and Royal Families

Monarchy (mono means one) is a system of government where a single leader -- a king or queen -- inherits political control by birth and family membership and rules for life. A royal family refers to the immediate family members surrounding a ruling monarch.

Importantly, England whose ideas about and practices of democratic government influenced the American colonists and the political institutions that developed in colonial America has had kings and queens for more than 1,200 years. The current royal family traces its lineage back to William the Conqueror. Not surprisingly, whatever the British royal family does generates an enormous response in print and online media.

Image of the Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace by dimitrisvetsikas1969 is under Pixabay License

Elizabeth II, who passed in September 2022 at 96 years-old, was the longest reigning British monarch, serving as Queen of the 16 countries of the Commonwealth realm with a population of 150 million people. She was also head of the 54 states in the Commonwealth of Nations that comprise 20% of the world's land and almost one-third of the world's population.

At her passing, her oldest son Charles became King Charles III. Throughout his adult life, Charles has been widely covered in tabloid media (notably his marriage to Princess Diana and his affair and subsequent marriage to Camilla Parker Bowles who is now the Queen Consort of the United Kingdom).

But behind the scenes, Charles has been a hugely successful businessman, using tax breaks, offshore accounts, and real estate deals to acquire huge multi-million dollar assets. The royal family's wealth is estimated at more than $29 billion, an issue in a country where poverty levels have grown significantly and the use of food banks has doubled in recent years (King Charles Inherits Untold Riches and Passes Off His Own Empire, New York Times, September 13, 2022).

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In the following activities, you will explore how the media covers and portrays influential individuals in the British and U.S. government, specifically the British royal family and United States Presidents.

Activity 1: Analyze Media Coverage of the Death of Queen Elizabeth II and the Business of the Monarchy

The death of Queen Elizabeth II on September 8, 2022 immediately became a huge media event. There was coverage of the Queen's passing, the public mourning, the ascension of Charles to the throne, and the multiple funeral events.

At the same time, the Queen's passing also called attention to the wealth and business of the royal family, the "Crown Estate" - consisting of palaces, jewels, artwork, land holdings and investment portfolios - that have been estimated at some $15.6 billion. The Queen herself had her own personal wealth, including the Royal Philatelic Collection - stamps valued at $100 million.

Enormous wealth is a political issue in England where some 14.5 million people (22% of the population, including one in three children) are in poverty (Overall UK Poverty Rates, 2020).

Activity 2: Analyze Media Coverage of Harry and Meghan's Interview with Oprah

In early 2021, Oprah Winfrey's much-anticipated interview with (Prince) Harry and Meghan Markle aired on television in Great Britain and the United States, creating a huge media event. Online and print media devoted extensive coverage to stories of palace intrigue and family conflict, including revelations about racism within the royal family. The interview followed Harry's and Meghan's break with the royal family in which they voluntarily gave up their royal duties and their His/Her Highness titles.

Designing for Learning: Student-Created Activity Example

Analyze media coverage of Harry and Meghan’s interview with Oprah by Isabella Arbelaez and Taylor Callahan

Activity 3: Analyze Movie Trailers About British Kings and Queens and American Presidents

Designing for Learning: Student-Created Activity Example

Analyze movie trailers about British Kings and Queens and American Presidents by Talia Panacy

Activity 4: Investigate Media Coverage of the Independence of Barbados

The Queen of England's role in the country of Barbados changed dramatically on November 29, 2021 when she was removed as head of state and replaced by Sandra Mason, the nation's first democratically elected woman president -- 400 hundred years after English ships first arrived there and established one of the most oppressive and brutal of England's Caribbean slave colonies.

As Barbados shifted from a constitutional monarchy to a democratic republic, how did the media cover this historic event?

Designing for Learning: Student-Created Activity Example

Investigate Media Coverage of the Independence of Barbados by Eliza Kuppens, Ava Mullin, Abigail Ariagno

Additional Resources

Connecting to the Standards

  • Massachusetts Civics & Government Standards
    • Explain how British ideas and practices about government influenced American colonists and the political institutions that developed in colonial America (Massachusetts Curriculum Framework for History and Social Studies) [8.T1.4]
  • ISTE Standards
    • Knowledge Constructor
      • 3b: Students evaluate the accuracy, perspective, credibility and relevance of information, media, data, or other resources.
      • 3c: Students curate information from digital resources using a variety of tools and methods to create collections of artifacts that demonstrate meaningful connections or conclusions.
    • Creative Communicator
      • 6b: Students create original works or responsibly repurpose or remix digital resources into new creations.
      • 6d: Students publish or present content that customizes the message and medium for the intended audiences.
  • DLCS Standards
    • Ethics and Laws (CAS.b)
    • Interpersonal and Societal Impact (CAS.c)
    • Digital Tools (DTC.a)
    • Collaboration and Communication (DTC.b)
    • Research (DTC.c)
  • English Language Arts > History/Social Studies Common Core Standards
    • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.11-12.1
    • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.11-12.2
    • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.11-12.6
    • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.11-12.8
    • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.11-12.9
  • English/Language Arts Common Core Standards


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