It was early Monday. Professional celebrity watchers such as myself were just clearing the sleep crust from their eyes and firing up our computers for a long day of exciting Lindsay Lohan speculation. Or maybe Robert Pattinson was out over the weekend and someone found out what kind of dressing he had on that salad.

Suddenly, the rarely seen red bar appeared at the top of MSN.com. Battle stations! Something was happening. Something big.

Holy Kardashian, it's the Princess! Put all sectors on alert. Find Obi-Wan. Escape may not be his plan.

Oh, sorry -- wrong princess.

No, it's Princess Kate, the Duchess of ... something. She's Prince William's wife and the daughter of her father, whose last name is Middleton. She's in the hospital, reportedly with morning sickness. The Internet is burning up. That's right, she just cut her hair. That's right, she has been wearing puffier outfits. That's right, she only drank water during that toast to the ambassador of "Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted." Now Buckingham Palace has spoken:

The Princess is PREGNANT!

Call to arms


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It was like being in the ready room when getting the call to scramble fighters. Celeb watchers were running every which way, trying to gather details and share it on all known conduits of information. Kate Middleton is carrying the heir to the British throne. The royal line will continue through another generation. The world might now be spared the specter a naked King Harry and his naughty Vegas minions. Tea and crumpets all around! Long live the royal fetus!

Uh, wait. I'm not British. Why do I care about this again?

Right -- my job is all about posting celebrity news with plentiful sarcasm to remind us all that it's a world that's kind of silly. And the royals occasionally fall into that category, especially to us Americans, who think that royals play baseball in Kansas City.

That, of course, is by design. As you may or may not remember, we fought Britain for our independence way back when -- before the Revolution was a Prince band. Then we fought them again in the War of 1812, which didn't change names even when it spilled over into 1813. We won that one, too -- nobody but rioting Americans can attack Detroit and get away with it.

So what's the big deal about the British royals? Why do we Americans -- who kicked out their cucumber-sandwich-loving backsides centuries ago -- still care so much about people who don't seem to have last names? Why did my mother, my wife and my aunts all buy little plastic crowns and stay up until 4 a.m. to watch William and Kate get married last year, when the alternative (sleep) seemed so much more attractive?

Roots in common

There are probably a few reasons. We speak the same language. We were their colony. Many of us are directly descended from the Brits. My English great-grandmother, Nora Swift, came over on the boat (when my 10-year-old found out she was descended from a Swift, she ran around telling everyone Taylor Swift was her cousin).

Britain is the United States' closest ally. In other words, when our president gets nutty ideas, the Brits are right there with us.

Then there's the idea of the royal line. Like it or not, these people are descended from those who conquered much of the world, though I have great difficulty trying to picture Prince Charles having anything to do with King Arthur. But to anyone fascinated by history, these people are noteworthy -- even if they don't have real jobs.

So congratulations to the British and the continuance of their royal line. Even if it's mostly just a figurehead position now, a new king may soon be born. And as Washington, Adams and Jefferson would say, better them than us.

Contact Tony Hicks at thicks@bayareanewsgroup.com.