The heteromonarchy
Kate Middleton, ‘middle-classness’ and family values
in Running the Family Firm
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This chapter uses representations of Kate Middleton and the Cambridge family to consider how the Firm is reproduced through patriarchal, nuclear, conservative, heteronormative family values. Using the official Kensington Palace Instagram account as a key case study, this chapter argues that the Cambridges appeal particularly to (traditional) middle-class family values, drawing on representations of Kate’s supposed ‘middle-class’ background. This chapter suggests that the foregrounding of Kate’s ‘middle classness’ is a strategic move for the Firm to mask its hereditary privilege and distance itself from associations with greed, profligacy and moral ‘lack’, by appearing to open aristocratic cultures to the middle classes through a performance of accessibility and ‘ordinariness’. However, I argue that this openness is merely a gesture. In fact, representations of Kate and the Cambridges illustrate how the Firm is becoming even more remote through Kate’s indeterminate persona, staged photoshoots and complex relations between the Firm and the tabloid press.

The Cambridges’ performance of ‘family values’ is particularly notable during a period of authoritarian neoliberalism, rising anti-gender movements, dynastic wealth and patrimonial forms of capitalism, which facilitate more conservative gender roles. Whilst this book argues that the Firm is reproduced through media culture, this chapter extends this to consider how the Firm is also dependent upon the biological reproduction of an heir. Kate is a contemporary configuration of the long-standing centrality of nostalgic heteronormativity and traditional gender roles to the reproduction of monarchical power, and indeed heterosexual reproduction is key to its ‘frontstage’: this is the heteromonarchy.

Running the Family Firm

How the monarchy manages its image and our money

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