A British Invasion

In 2018, many Americans have been glued to hearing the latest news from across the pond. Many waited to hear about the birth of the new Royal baby or to get a glimpse of Meghan Markle’s wedding dress at the Royal wedding. These are just two events that have captured the interest of Americans.

Throughout the decades, the United Kingdom and the United States have cross-influenced each other and their cultures. Maybe it is because of the connection these two countries have that dates back to the 1700s. Both have inspired the other’s clothing, music, and more. But, do you know exactly how Great Britain has changed American culture? Test your knowledge below to see if you are an adopted citizen of the United Kingdom.

  • British influence dates back to revolutionary America. English philosopher and Enlightenment thinker John Locke inspired many of the ideals in the Declaration of Independence. Along with Locke, other English philosophers, who made their mark on early American history are Thomas Paine, who is known for writing the pamphlet “Common Sense” and saying the famous line “Give me liberty, or give me death.” In addition, the Magna Carta and the English Bill of Rights impact our government. Lastly, the tunes of England have carried over into early American music. For example, one can easily hear the commonalities between “My Country Tis of Thee” and “God Save the King/Queen.”
  • One can credit the beginning of the pop-culture “British invasion” to The Beatles. This popular band first arrived in the United States in February 1964 and, since then, they have made a lasting impression on the 50 states. The Beatles aren’t the only band who has musically moved across oceans. Other groups have included One Direction, The Spice Girls, and The Rolling Stones.
  • Another area where America is influenced by the United Kingdom is in fashion. Iconic designers, including Stella McCartney and Alexander McQueen, have inspired many Americans. These stylists are commonly worn by the Duchess of Cambridge.
  • Speaking of the Royal family, one could say the Windsors are as famous in the Land of the Free as they are in jolly ol’ England. People throughout the world were enamored with Princess Diana and now Princes William and Harry are having similar influences. As mentioned above, Americans like to have a front row seat, via the television, social media, or news, to what is happening in the lives of our favorite family. The Royals’ effect has mainly been seen in fashion, but it has also inspired American entertainment. Lastly, the Windsors have raised awareness worldwide for charitable causes, such as mental health and veterans.
  • Films and television shows, such as Harry Potter, James Bond, The King’s Speech, Downton Abbey, and Doctor Who were all first popular in England before their popularity carried over into the US.
  • The works of English authors Charles Dickens, H.G. Wells, and Jane Austen are now timeless tales in our country that many people read every year. Where would the 50 states be without Dickens’ A Christmas Carol or Austen’s Mr. Darcy?
  • Names of cities, towns, schools, and more places have felt the English spirit. Doesn’t it seem like almost every state has a city named York, Manchester, Wilmington, Norfolk, Lancaster County, or New London? All of these names have English origins and meanings. Most are named after English leaders, kings, queens, or places.
  • Lastly, one can draw the conclusion that the first design for the American flag was guided by the British Union flag. The original flag of the United States included the 13 red and white stripes, but instead of 50 stars in the upper left, it was the British Union flag. The Grand Union Flag, as it became known, was flown for the first time in 1775.

The United Kingdom has left a huge impact on the United States. The list above is just a few of the many ways the country has done that. For years to come, the two will continue to influence each other and it will be interesting to see what new trends, music, fashion, etc., will come in the future.


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