Talking of the Royal Family

Talking of the Royal Family

Talking of the Royal Family

Talking of the Royal Family


To talk about royalty is to talk of many things: privilege, equality, nationality, morality, family life, parenting, divorce, the media and more. Important themes and issues flow through the seemingly trivial everyday chatter about royalty.
Now with a new preface, Talking of the Royal Familywas the first serious full-length study of royalty to emerge from this rhetorical perspective and remains relevant today.


Why listen to ordinary families talking about the British Royal Family? There must be more sensible ways for social scientists to spend their time. If you’ve got to listen to people talking, then surely to goodness there are other topics more worthy of investigation. So might a serious social scientist object to the project on which this book is based.

However, the objection would be misplaced. The British Royal Family is a phenomenon of curious sociological and psychological proportions. This family, almost certainly the best known in the world, is an object of mass public interest. Its televised ceremonies are observed by audiences of millions. The newspapers headline the most trivial details of royal life. The sovereign is a symbol of British nationhood, quite apart from being the constitutional head of other Commonwealth nations. Yet, little sociological or psychological research has been conducted into the survival of monarchy today.

There are several reasons for listening to ordinary families discussing the Royal Family. The first, and most obvious, is to search for clues to the fascination which royalty exerts. As people talk about royalty, so they voice desires and denials, admiration and discontent, seriousness and mockery. They are to be heard to strip away the mystery from royalty, and to demand that the mystery continues. Thus, the discussions provide material for a social psychology of contemporary monarchy.

But, there is more than this. Ordinary British people can talk readily about royalty, and, as they do so, their talk is not confined to individual royals. To talk about royalty is to talk of many other things: privilege, equality, nationality, morality, family and so on.

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