David Dabydeen


DO: Marina, how important an archetype is royalty in English identity? MW: The importance of the royal family has grown tremendously as a result of mass communication. The propaganda machine really got under way in the Victorian age, not just in the press but in pageantry. There was a tremendous growth. For instance the birthdays of Queen Victoria's youngest children were celebrated in private, as were their weddings, but by the end of her reign, any celebration connected to her children or grand-children or indeed her distant relations was celebrated with full public pomp. But it does have its roots, of course, in very distant symbolism and I think that this was very much helped by an accident of circumstance- that we had so many powerful Queens. It does seem that somewhere in the human imagination there is a very deep association between land, birthplace and the female body, so that in many different languages and many different cultures, in fact nations, motherland is as motherland suggests, feminine in gender. The idea of origin, the actual flesh in which you are born, becomes analogous with the terrain you occupy. Because someone like Elizabeth I ruled during a great period of British history, and identified herself symbolically and consciously with that power as Astraea -Britannia herself as it were - the foundations were laid down in the British psyche of regarding a royal individual as something far greater than an individual.



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