The (Family) Firm
Labour, capital and corporate power
in Running the Family Firm
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This chapter outlines the conceptual framework of this book, which describes the monarchy as a corporation: the Firm. Drawing together a large and varied amount of material, it maps out the mechanics, technologies and industries involved in the reproduction of the Firm. It describes the actors involved in reproducing the Firm, and outlines the infrastructure of staff and key individuals to expose the labour undertaken ‘backstage’ in order to represent the ‘frontstage’ of monarchy. It also describes a web of capital relations: the exploitation of low-paid workers through ideologies of class subservience; the ‘revolving door’ between the Royal Household and corporations, the military, broadcasters and the civil service; the murky rules of royal financing; the secrecy of royal wealth; the networks of contacts; the relationships to post/colonialism; the exploitation of political relationships for profit; and the abuse of political privileges.

Alongside exposing these corporate relations, this chapter outlines my distinction between the institution of monarchy and our emotional investments in the royal family and its ‘individual’ members. I use ideas of ‘the Family Firm’ to consider how the contemporary monarchy’s performance of Victorian-inspired, middle-class, ‘family values’ is a strategic project to distance the Firm from capitalist vulgarity. If this book argues that the very invisibility of the Firm’s social and economic power is its power, this chapter aims to make these relations visible. In sum, it pulls back the stage curtain of monarchy to understand what the Firm is today.

Running the Family Firm

How the monarchy manages its image and our money

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