Mar. 14th, 2013

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Has anyone else heard about Booker prize winner, Hilary Mantel's, controversial speech on Royal Bodies, presented for the London Review of Books? I saw it yesterday in my twitter feed and clicked on it out of interest. As someone coming to it as a cultural historian, as a writer and as someone who comes from a country that has little love left for the British monarchy, it is one of the most interesting and complex speeches I have read in an age; criticising the symbiotic relationship between royals, a country's people and the media. Mantel calls attention to the myth that a royal title evokes, the role that must be performed in accordance with that myth and the ways that the media especially, simaltaenously depersonalise and exult the royal body as an object, not as a person. Coming at it from a feminist bent, she examines the ways that women, particularly queen's, have been valued in the royal myth, with a small section discussing Princess Diana and Princess Catherine (Kate Middleton). Mantel dares to question the UK's image of Royal woman, asking why it is in an era of so called feminist success, that we value Kate only for her body- her youth, her beauty and her child bearing ability? Not only does she question our ideals of womanhood, she also (rather subtly it must be said) questions the entire institution of British royalty.

The link is here:

What's the fuss/tell me what's a-happening? )


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