Running the Family Firm

How the monarchy manages its image and our money

Author: Laura Clancy

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?’

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