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Centre for the Study of Modern Monarchy

Centre for the Study of Modern Monarchy

Centre for the Study of Modern Monarchy

Forty-four countries (including Queen Elizabeth II’s 16 realms) still have a monarch as head of state. These monarchies span the globe from those in the Middle East (e.g. Jordan, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and the various Gulf nations) where the monarchs are de facto heads of government, to the quasi-religious monarchies of East Asia (e.g. Bhutan, Nepal, Japan and Thailand) to the monarchies of Northern Europe (e.g. UK, Benelux nations and Scandinavian states) who once exercised considerable political power but now perform a more symbolic and civic role.

The Queen and Prince Charles

This new interdisciplinary centre will promote the comparative study of modern monarchy to explore sovereignty and rule in theory and practice and ask questions such as how do monarchies adapt to change, reinvent themselves and navigate between past, present and future to ensure the continuity of the institution? What are the possibilities, challenges and opportunities of contemporary monarchies in different national contexts facing the loss of (political) importance, power, space, relevance, and popularity? How is the relevance and roles of these seemingly anachronistic institutions negotiated? Where does the perpetual interest in monarchies stem from? What role do they play in concepts of legal sovereignty, power and definitions of legality? How have monarchies used traditional and social media and been ‘abused’ by media? What is the role of monarchy in popular culture and civic society?

Anna Whitelock on the news with a byline about monarchy

The centre’s research will also contribute to increasingly urgent contemporary debate about the role of monarchies in international relations and geopolitics, in the development of national identities and in constitutional reform.

Twitter - @centre_monarchy

Media enquires to Prof Anna Whitelock


This was the week that was, or was not? After THAT Interview and the media furore that has engulfed the palace, it seems opportune to reflect on where we are now and for the future. Walter Bagehot, the grand old man of the English constitution, argued in the past that the monarchy was the ‘dignified’ element of the British system. But nothing seems that ‘dignified’ at the present with arguments raging over racism, money, mental health, taxes, protection, and media coverage. The Royal Family are in a bind – the ‘don’t explain and don’t complain’ mantra of the past seems out of date in a 24/7 social media environment. Public opinion could turn away from the monarchy and Prince Charles will find himself taking over as King in a very different world to the one his mother encountered in the 1950s.

Prof Anna Whitelock (Chair in the History of Monarchy and Co-Director of the Centre for the Study of Modern Monarchy ) will chair a panel discussion to help us make sense of what is going on. The monarchy may not be in crisis but the coming days and weeks are going to be crucial for it. If they get it wrong, the future will not be bright.

Panellists will include:

  • Ayesha Hazarika, broadcaster, journalist and political commentator, and former political adviser to senior Labour Party politicians.
  • Graham Smith, CEO for Republic, which calls for the abolition of the monarchy and the establishment of an elected head of state.
  • Jennie Bond, former BBC royal correspondent
  • Dr Ed Owen, historian and author of ‘The Family Firm. Monarchy, Mass Media and the British Public, 1932-53’
  • Ben Page, Chief Exec of Ipsos MORI

Key Contacts

Listen to Prof Maclaren talk The Crown and the Royal Brand in this Royal Holloway seminar session. 

Maclaran, P. and Otnes, C. (2020), “We’ll Never be Royals” – Or Will We? Exploring Meghan Markle’s Impact on the British Royal Family Brand, in Pollard, I. and Jordan C. (eds), Realms of Royalty, Bielefeld, Germany: Transcript Verlag.

Maclaran, P. (2019), Princess Diana: An Evolving Human Heritage Brand, Paper presented at the Branding Heritage/Heritage Branding Workshop, University of Birmingham, 25th-26th November.

Otnes, C. and Maclaran, P. (2018), Royalty: Marketplace Icons, Consumption, Markets & Culture, 21(1), 65-75.

Maclaran, P. (2017), “We’ll Never Be Royals”: The British Royal Family in Consumer Culture, Keynote Lecture, Realms of Royalty: New Directions in Researching Contemporary European Monarchies Conference (20 & 21 April), International Graduate Centre for the Study of Culture (GCSC), Justus-Liebig Universität Gießen.

Otnes, C. and Maclaran, P. (2015), Royal Fever: The British Monarchy in Consumer Culture, CA: University of California Press.

Carson, Caitlin, Hartman, Julian, Otnes, C. and Maclaran, P. (2014), Contemporizing Kensington: Popular Culture and the “Enchanted Palace” Exhibit, in Robinson, M. and Silverman, H. (eds), Encounters with Popular Pasts: Popular Culture and Heritage, pp.165-184.

Otnes, C. and Maclaran, P. (2013), Consuming the Crown: Key Facets of the British Royal Family Experience, in European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 10, eds. Gert Cornelissen, Elena Reutskaja, and Ana Valenzuela, Duluth, MN: Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 23-26.

Otnes, C., Crosby, E. and Pauline Maclaran (2011), Above Celebrity: Maintaining Consumers’ Experiences of Heritage-Based Fame, in Advances in Consumer Research Volume 38, eds. Darren W. Dahl, Gita V. Johar, and Stijn M.J. van Osselaer, Duluth, MN: Association for Consumer Research, p. 149.

Otnes, C. and Maclaran, P. (2007), The consumption of cultural heritage among a British Royal Family brand tribe, in Kozinets, R., Cova, B. and Shankar, A. (eds), Consumer Tribes: Theory, Practice, and Prospects, Elsevier/Butterworth-Heinemann, London, pp. 51-66.

Maclaran, P. and Otnes, C. (2007), Living History: Biographical Objects and the Powerful Presence of the Past, in European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 8, eds. Stefania Borghini, Mary Ann McGrath, and Cele Otnes, Duluth, MN: Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 111-112.

Maclaran, P., Otnes, C. and Fischer, E. (2008), Maintaining the myth of the monarchy: how producers shape consumers’ experiences of the British royal family, Angela Y. Lee and Dilip Somon (eds), Advances in Consumer Research, Vol. 35, Dunluth, MN: Association for Consumer Research, pp. 67-71.

Fischer, E., Maclaran, P. and Otnes, C. (2006), Brands in Transit: The dynamics of cross-cultural brand meanings and the British Royal Family Brand, Special Session, in Karin M. Ekstrom and Helene Brembeck (eds), European Advances in Consumer Research Vol. 7, Duluth, MN: Association for Consumer Research, p. 83.


MANDY MERCK is Professor Emerita of Media Arts at Royal Holloway, University of London.  She is the Editor of THE BRITISH MONARCHY ON SCREEN, the pioneering collection on the representation of the crown in film and television.  The work of 19 scholars, published by Manchester University Press in 2016, it is now available  on Open Access.  Her previous publications on the monarchy include AFTER DIANA: IRREVERENT ELEGIES, an edited collection of articles debating the impact of the mourning of Princess Diana on British life (Verso, 1998).



Funded by the AHRC the project brings together a research team based in the UK and at the University of West Indies, and from the disciplines of History, Oral History, Literature and the Political Sciences. Project partners include the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, University of West Indies Museum, National Caribbean Heritage Museum, Black Cultural Archives and the Historical Association. The project begins in 1952, with the accession of Elizabeth II, and ends at the present day. It moves from decolonisation and the achievement of independence, to constitutional reform efforts and current debates on the future of the Crown in the Caribbean where the queen remains Head of state in 9 countries. As the Queen's 68-year reign draws to a close, the project engages with important questions about the legacy of her reign, the relationship between Britain and its former Caribbean colonies, and the  future of the Crown elsewhere in the Commonwealth.

Find out more via the project website - 

Media activity


Coronation of Elizabeth II in 1953

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