Houston Matters

American Royalty: How Our Political Dynasties Relate To British Monarchy

Historian Nancy Beck Young explains how some American political families compare to British royalty — and why we’re often so fascinated by them.

The Bush family in the Red Room of the White House (January 2005). Seated left to right: Marvin Bush, Laura Bush, George W. Bush, Barbara Bush, George H. W. Bush, Jeb Bush. Also pictured, from left: Georgia Grace Koch, Margaret Bush, Charles Walker Bush, Jenna Bush Hager, Doro Bush, Barbara Pierce Bush, Robert P. Koch, Pierce Bush, Maria Bush, Neil Bush, Ashley Bush, Sam LeBlond, Robert Koch, Nancy Ellis LeBlond, John “Jebby” Bush, Amanda Bush, George P. Bush, and Columba Bush.

Americans are fascinated by royalty — just look at how the recent royal wedding between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle captured our collective attention. The same thing happened in 2011 when Prince William married Kate Middleton. And yet, the United States was founded on the basis of resistance to traditional royalty. Even our first President George Washington purposefully avoided any royal titles or anything resembling what the country had just fought so hard to break free from.

However, it does seem that, despite that resistance, we have, over time, cultivated a number of dynastic families that could almost be considered American “royalty.” Think of the Kennedys or the Bushes, two prominent political families where multiple members have held office over a number of years and continue to be part of the public consciousness.

So, what is it about these families that sparks our interest? And what about families local to Texas or Houston that carry a similar weight? Houston Matters talks it over with University of Houston historian Nancy Beck Young.

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