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The Royal Body conference

Posted on 28/04/2011

At a time when we are being bombarded with images of the monarchy in all its pomp and glory, and shortly before the Diamond Jubilee celebrations, Royal Holloway will be taking the long view and considering the importance of the royal body in the past, present and, perhaps, the future, in an international conference scheduled for April 2012.  See below for details!

The Royal Body


Centre for the Study of Bodies and Material Culture,

Royal Holloway, University of London

2-5 April 2012


‘For the King has in him two bodies … a Body natural and a Body politic.’


The idea of the king’s two bodies, the body natural and the body politic, founded on the distinction between the personal and mortal king and the perpetual and corporate crown, has long been of interest to scholars of medieval and early modern kingship. In later centuries the natural body of the monarch remained a contested site, with the life, health, sexuality, fertility and death of the king or queen continuing to be an important part of politics. Now royal sex and scandal is the very stuff that sells newspapers, and royal christening, weddings and funerals continue to capture the popular imagination. Indeed the ‘royal touch’ of Aids victims or sick children remains a potent image. So what is the significance of the natural body of the monarch to their subjects now and the importance of it for the concept, and survival, of monarchy?

This conference will explore the bodies of monarchs across Europe ranging from the medieval period to the present. By considering how the monarch's body has been washed, dressed, used, anointed, hidden, attacked and put on display, it will investigate how ideas of king/queenship have developed over time.

For the latest conference programme, see The Royal Body conference programme latest 18 Jan 2012 



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