Media Coverage of Kings, Queens, and Royal Families

43 countries in the world today have a monarchy with kings, queens and royal families. Activities explore media coverage of and movies about the British and U.S. governments, specifically the British royal family and United States Presidents, along with how the media covered the country of Barbados' 21st century shift from a monarchy to democratic rule.

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. Which countries in the world today still have a monarchy? View this list and map from Wikipedia.

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).

You can view Photos: The Coronation of King Charles III from NPR Photo Stories (May 6, 2023).

Largely outside the public eye, 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 political 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, The New York Times, September 13, 2022).

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Activity 1: Analyze Media Coverage of the Death of Queen Elizabeth II and the Businesses 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).

Designing for Learning: Student-Created Activity Example

Analyzing Media Coverage of the Death of Queen Elizabeth II & the Business of the Monarchy by Caroline Roscoe

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 role of the Queen of England 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 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?

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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