WESTPORT, Connecticut (AP) — An heir to the British throne is on the way — and Americans may be as enthralled as the Brits.
This former colony has been riveted by the royal news that the former Kate Middleton is pregnant — perhaps as much as Britain, where such regal developments are taken in stride.
"We don't really have a princess here," said Kathy Gitlin, an elementary school teacher in Connecticut who was thrilled to hear that Kate is with child. "I'm an Anglophile, I love England, and I think it's wonderful that two people in love wanted to get married and start a family. It's great."
There are several reasons for the American public's pleasure in Kate's news, manifested not only by the good wishes sent by President Obama but also by the breathless news coverage and the general good will toward the actually not-so-young young couple, who have both now reached 30.
First, and least complicated, is the fact that Kate seems a likeable and sensible young woman who married one of the world's most eligible bachelors without letting the power, prestige and A-plus jewelry go to her head.
Then there are the long ties between the two countries, so alike and so maddeningly different.
When Americans proudly declared their independence, they swore off sovereign kings and queens forever, yet several centuries later they find themselves drawn to the royals' pomp and pageantry, embracing the more colorful aspects of a system whose substance they had eagerly overthrown.
Finally, hardest to quantify, is the fading, almost ghostly, image of Princess Diana, who died so young. Americans want Diana's sons to flourish, and Kate seems to have made William very, very happy.
"I remember when Diana died, it was such a shock," said Gitlin, 52. "No one can ever take her place, but it's nice to have another person, someone this generation can look up to, and someone who William can love."
There's no doubt that many Britons are thrilled as well, and the country's embattled tabloid press certainly views a royal pregnancy (at Christmastime no less!) as a surefire circulation booster and a welcome diversion from a series of press scandals.
But some on Monday expressed a rather blasé attitude to the prospect of a new generation of Windsors seemingly bound for the throne. In the chill of early evening in north London's Camden market, young couples strolling among the stalls received the news of Kate's pregnancy with a shrug.
"I'm happy for them, but I don't really care," said Enya Lonergan, 19, who was visiting from Canterbury, south of London, with her friend Will Nichols, 20.
They could muster little enthusiasm for the news, noting that they had little in common with the royals, particularly in these bleak economic times.
"I don't think about them," Nichols said, adding that — naturally — he'd send them a gift. Or not.