Topic 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.
There have been kings and queens in England for more than 1,200 years. The current royal family traces its lineage back to William the Conqueror.
Elizabeth II, the longest reigning British monarch, is Queen of the 16 countries of the Commonwealth realm with a population of 150 million people. She is 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. Not surprisingly, whatever the British royal family does generates an enormous response in print and online media.
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 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.
- Examine the Oprah interview footage as well as the coverage of the interview in online and print news sources.
- Curate a Wakelet, Padlet, or Google Slides collection of news articles and videos from the U.S. (e.g., NPR, CNN, Oprah Magazine, People Magazine, Rolling Stone Magazine) and the U.K. (e.g., BBC, The Guardian, The Times, The Daily Telegraph).
- What differences do you see in the coverage of the Harry and Meghan interview?
- Which images and/or interview clips did each news source use? Why do you think these visuals were selected? How do visuals differ between U.S. and U.K. media outlets?
- Who is the author of the news article or video? What bias might they have in presenting information about U.K. royalty?
- What type of language is used in the news article or video? How is language used to influence readers/viewers?
- How did the participants involved respond to the event?
- Design a video, podcast, or website to showcase your findings.
- Consider: How might have British ideas about and practices of government influenced Harry and Meghan's decision to give up their royal duties?
- Record a mock interview between two individuals of your choosing (e.g., Oprah and the Queen) to discuss this issue.
Activity 2: Analyze Movie Trailers About British Kings and Queens and American Presidents
- Analyze movie trailers to compare and contrast how British Kings and Queens and American Presidents are portrayed in movies.
- Potential films:
- What differences and similarities do you see in how the British royalty and U.S. leaders are portrayed in movies?
- What perspectives do films take toward these different forms of government leadership?
- Is it evident that British ideas and practices of government influenced U.S. government? Why or why not?
- Design a Hollywood-style movie trailer that showcases how British ideas about and practices of government influenced the American colonists and the political institutions that developed in colonial America.
Activity 3: 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?
- Conduct Internet research to find at least 7 sources of news coverage about Barbados' independence, including news articles and videos.
- Then, use the Teacher and Student Guide to Analyzing News & Newspapers to critically examine how different news outlets and mediums portrayed Barbados' shifted from a constitutional monarchy to a democratic republic.
- Consider: Did the media focus on the role of the Queen and the monarchy, the change in the nation's government, or the hard history of slavery in that country, or something else?
- Present your findings in a news report video or TikTok.
- Prince Harry and Meghan Allege Royal Mistreatment in Oprah Interview - AllSides
- Balanced News Covering Prince Harry on AllSides
- Balanced News Covering Meghan Markle on AllSides
- Balanced News Covering Royal Family on AllSides
- Movies about British monarchy - IMDB
Connecting to the eBook
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.
- Knowledge Constructor
- 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
- English/Language Arts Common Core Standards