May 10, 2018 / 10:02 AM / 17 days ago

American TV goes to town on Meghan and Harry's royal wedding

LOS ANGELES, May 10 (Reuters) - Pride, celebrity, escapism and a fascination with all things British are driving U.S. TV networks to go to town on the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle with week-long specials, live streaming, and romantic movies.

Documentaries about Markle’s biracial California roots, reruns of Princess Diana’s 1981 wedding to Prince Charles, and features on British pageantry and fashion are just some of the programming in store in the week leading up to the May 19 nuptials.

Despite the U.S. War of Independence some 240 years ago, Americans have long been obsessed with British royals, who regularly feature on the front pages of celebrity magazines.

Harry’s choice of Markle, an American former actress and campaigner for gender equality, makes the wedding even more special.

“We are incredibly proud to say: ‘Harry, you are a smart man,’” said TV anchor Meredith Vieira, who will co-host a five-part nightly series of royal programming on PBS with the BBC.

“Harry is just an adorable prince. Everybody here seems to love him,” Vieira said. He and Markle “exude youth, positivity, optimism and they care about other people. They are a very attractive couple anyway that you cut it.”

Multiple U.S. networks, each with “experts” ranging from former royal butlers to royal biographers, will stream the wedding in England live from 4 a.m. on the U.S East coast.

On the lighter front, celebrity network E! will offer “The Real Princess Diaries,” about the lives of Diana, Markle and Kate Middleton, the wife of Harry’s older brother, Prince William, while the Hallmark Channel will offer a day-long run of made-for-TV romantic movies deemed “fit for a princess.”

Lifetime has a new biographical movie, “Harry & Meghan: A Royal Romance,” which it promoted in Los Angeles with an English high tea complete with cucumber sandwiches, scones, jam and clotted cream.

“It’s an escape for all of us. It’s a peek into fantasy - the prince finding his princess,” said Tanya Lopez, Lifetime’s executive vice president of movies.

Since Markle is also both biracial and divorced, their marriage “has so much more relevance. It really speaks to how the world is changing,” said Lopez.

Those seeking a less awestruck take on the tiaras, carriages and royals, can turn to satirical show “Funny or Die” on HBO , where Will Ferrell and Molly Shannon play mock TV anchors.

A trailer for their royal wedding special showed Ferrell, sporting a ginger beard and broad Union Jack tie, fighting to get out of a traditional British red public phone box. (Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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