Thursday, October 18, 2007

David Starkey and the Monarchy



David Starkey's lecture on the Monarchy during the Chester Literature Festival was fascinating - he is an accomplished extemporaneous speaker, as was one of his subjects: Bertie, son of Queen Victoria.

He described how patterns of monarchy repeated themselves (e.g. eldest sons detesting fathers) and also how the monarchy was forced to change in character because of the rise of the middle classes and universal emancipation.

After Victoria the monarchy were forced to participate in public shows of ceremony in order to please the masses. For instance the crown jewels were worn (which gave George V headaches, migraines and then flashes of light (since he was forcing something circular on his non-circular head)) and the royal marriages changed from being arranged and celebrated in private to public romances with the vows taken most publicly in Westminster Abbey.

They had to be seen to be noble and 'defender of the faith'...

...rather like the superintendents of the nineteenth century mental asylums in fact (but that's just my take).

Apart from giving his much- appreciated lecture he stayed behind to sign a great pile of his new book Monarchy. When I asked him if it would be all right if I took his photograph he was charmingly obliging; an endearing man.

2 Comments:

Blogger Andrew Kenneally said...

Victor Pelevin has a great line:

"Phenomenologically any politician is a TV program, and this doesn’t change from one government to another."

People enjoy the illusion of knowing these people, be they the supposed political rulers or monarchs, but the truth is largely that these are television programmes for the masses to feel they are particiapants in democracies in which they have a real say as opposed to under the sway of ruling elites who care little about them.

Thu Oct 18, 11:52:00 am  
Anonymous Clare said...

I agree completely, Andrew. The cynical art of convincing people that you care about what they feel, think and do is a powerful one in many occupations.

Fri Oct 19, 08:02:00 am  

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