Britain's Enchanted Monarchy

Tom Nairn looks at the role of the monarchy and its impact on British national identity.

Until very recently, the British monarchy was a subject puzzlingly absent from both history and sociology. Anyone could see that it was important, in a sense which combined the symbolic, the high-political and the psychological. Formally speaking the Crown has remained at the core of the unwritten constitution: regal sovereignty is vested in the Westminster Parliament, not the popular sort nearly all other modern states recognise. And below this level of haute politique the immense popularity of royalty is undeniable – a national-popular psychodrama which only an arch-philistine could seriously believe had no importance for English and British identity.

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