The British royal family has experienced a resurgence in public interest in recent years. During the same period, global inequalities have expanded, leaving huge chasms of wealth inequality between ‘the elites’ and ‘the rest’. Yet, the monarchy is mostly absent from conversations about contemporary inequalities, dismissed as an archaic and irrelevant institution. This is the only book to argue that we cannot talk about inequalities in Britain today without talking about the monarchy. Running the Family Firm is about the contemporary British monarchy (1953 to present). It argues that media representations (of, for example, royal ceremonies or royal babies) are the ‘frontstage’ of monarchy: this is what we usually see. Meanwhile, ‘backstage’, there are a host of political-economic infrastructures that reproduce the institution: this is what we don’t typically see. This book pulls back the stage curtain of monarchy and exposes what is usually hidden: how it looks versus how it makes its money and power. Drawing on case studies of key royal figures – the Queen, Prince Charles, Prince Harry, Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle – the book argues that media representations of the royal family are carefully stage-managed to ‘produce consent’ for monarchy in the public imagination. That is, the corporate power of monarchy (the Firm) is disguised through media representations of the royal family (the Family Firm). In so doing, the book probes conventional understandings of monarchy, and offers a unique and radical answer to the question ‘why does monarchy matter?’
. According to Google Trends, UK searches for the term ‘British royalfamily’ at the time of the engagement announcement were more than double those around the time of the Paradise Papers leak:
the engagement announcement foregrounded familial relationships – the royalfamily – rather than the institution of monarchy and the investors caught up in the Paradise Papers ‘scandal’. That is, media representations of Harry and Meghan's engagement – such as the Daily Express 's ‘The Look of Love’ and the Sun 's ‘She's the
, giving audiences annual access to their sovereign as part of a mediated ritual. Again, ordinary and extraordinary coalesced through direct contact with the Queen from inside Buckingham Palace, who said ‘I very much hope … that this new medium will make my Christmas message more personal and direct … I welcome you to the peace of my own home’.
Developments in monarchy's relationship to television are best illustrated in the 1969 BBC–ITV documentary RoyalFamily , directed by
The 2011 wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton was a key moment for the contemporary British monarchy. It attracted two billion television viewers in 180 countries, and one million visitors to London.
As has become tradition for royal events since Queen Victoria's reign as a way for royals to manufacture intimacy with audiences,
the royalfamily appeared for now-famous photographs on Buckingham Palace balcony ( Figure 1
This book explains the direct link between the structure of the corporation and its limitless capacity for ecological destruction. It argues that we need to find the most effective means of ending the corporation’s death grip over us. The corporation is a problem, not merely because it devours natural resources, pollutes and accelerates the carbon economy. As this book argues, the constitutional structure of the corporation eradicates the possibility that we can put the protection of the planet before profit. A fight to get rid of the corporations that have brought us to this point may seem an impossible task at the moment, but it is necessary for our survival. It is hardly radical to suggest that if something is killing us, we should over-power it and make it stop. We need to kill the corporation before it kills us.
On 19 May 2018, Prince Harry married Meghan Markle, a bi-racial (her mother is African American, her father white American), divorced, self-identified feminist American actor with a working-class background. Unlike Kate Middleton before her, who is publicly known only through her royal role, Meghan entered the royalfamily with an already-established media persona. She played the lawyer Rachel Zane in the American cable TV drama Suits between 2011 and 2018, and had small roles in Hollywood films Get Him to the Greek and Remember Me
National identities, sovereignty and the body politic
lips and the name of the band displayed as ransom letters across her face.
The artist and left-wing political campaigner Artist Taxi Driver satirised public and media reaction to Prince George's birth by referring to her as the ‘hairy goat-legged Queen’, galloping around the hospital as Kate Middleton births the dynasty's next ‘spawn’.
The conspiracy theorist David Icke claims that the royalfamily are shape-shifting reptilian aliens, part of a secret global
Masculinities, ‘philanthrocapitalism’ and the military-industrial complex
class – at once.
Although somewhat useful for reinforcing notions of a (royal) family with a difficult, unruly child, representations of Harry's ‘laddish’ antics were described by the journalist Antony Barnett as ‘highly embarrassing for the royalfamily’, and his behaviour is constructed as countering the ‘moral and respectable’ Family Firm. For example, after he smoked cannabis, one national tabloid columnist branded Harry a ‘thoroughly horrible young man’ and a ‘national disgrace’.
understands the power of the press and photography particularly. While other members of the RoyalFamily are happy to let their PR people make all these decisions, Meghan is not.
Likewise, in the Sun , the journalist Emily Andrews claimed that ‘Maverick Meghan Markle is the “new Diana” with PR tactics … defying stuffy palace bigwigs’, directly contrasting the ‘stuffy’ Buckingham Palace staff with Meghan's celebrity credence
Kate Middleton, ‘middle-classness’ and family values
portraits of Queen Victoria and her young family (see Chapter 1 ), yet Victoria poses in an opulent palace interior, whilst the Cambridges sit in the Middleton family garden, distanced from signifiers of aristocratic privilege. The historian Florence Sutcliffe-Braithwaite argues that in the twentieth-century middle and upper classes blurred due to a cross-class claim to ‘ordinariness’, which was a ‘contested and shifting’ term.
Likewise, Jo Littler suggests that the royalfamily are represented as ‘normcore aristocrats