Given their history as former colonial subjects, many Americans have little use for royalty except as objects of derision or envy or entertainment. So it's no surprise the news of a marital breakup between Britain's Prince Andrew and his wife, Sarah Ferguson, was greeted in this country with the kind of mocking voyeurism generally reserved for such exotica as the annual mating ritual of the giant pandas in Washington's National Zoo.
There is a certain element of what the Germans call Schadenfreude, or joy in other people's misfortunes, in all this. Part of it is aimed at the British public's fascination with royal doings that are viewed by some as an unseemly anachronism. And part of it has to do with the traditional American lack of sympathy for the "poor little rich girl."
Yet one wonders how anyone could sustain a successful marriage in the fishbowl existence to which the British royal family is consigned. The British monarchy asks fairly ordinary people to fill impossible public roles, then exposes them to worldwide obloquy and scorn when they fail.