THE FUNCTION OF THE MONARCHY AS AN INSTITUTION IN BRITISH SOCIETY, FOR THE COMMONWEALTH AND GLOBALLY
Study day with Dame Ruth Silver DBE
15 May 2021, on Zoom, 1330–1800 BST
The monarchy has always been a projective receptacle for the British public and the world, whether through its immaculate grasp of pageantry or through the periodic emergence of scandals. The Queen has been the reigning monarch since 1952, which covers the lifetimes for most citizens of the UK. She has carried the continuity from past to present, has become the enduring symbol of a reliable ‘container’ and has been a largely benign presence.
The monarchy as an institution has gone through popular and unpopular phases, the latter particularly around the death of Princess Diana. Today we have the popular Netflix production of The Crown; we have the more disreputable saga of Prince Andrew getting caught up in a sexual scandal; and, most recently, we have the Oprah Winfrey interview of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex which has brought powerful reactions on both sides of the ‘pond’. It throws into stark relief the monarchy as an institution and its function for British society, the Commonwealth and the world.
We invite you to this Study day to explore the role of the monarchy in British society both above and beneath the surface. What do we expect from the monarchy? What role does it carry for us as citizens?
The Study day is a collective learning event. It will consist of an introduction into the notion of the monarchy as a containing institution in British society, followed by a Listening Post, small group discussions and a final Plenary. We hope that by working creatively together, we may be able to produce a tentative hypothesis about the conscious and unconscious functions of the monarchy in our lifetime.