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'Queen's Day - TV's Day': the British monarchy and the media industries

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/06/2019
<mark>Journal</mark>Contemporary British History
Issue number3
Number of pages24
Pages (from-to)427-450
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date28/03/19
<mark>Original language</mark>English


In contemporary British history, Elizabeth II’s coronation in 1953 is typically imagined and narrated as the moment where television was anchored as a national cultural form. In addition, it is well documented by commentators and scholars that during preparation for the coronation, politicians and the palace had reservations that live television might fracture the carefully constructed mystique of monarchy. This article revisits the coronation to consider why and how television was perceived as a watershed moment for both monarchy and television, and what difference this has made to royal representations since. Using the work of Michael Warner, it argues that the mediated intimacies facilitated by television as a new cultural form encouraged viewers to enact participatory and active processes of spectatorship as royal ‘publics’, who are brought into being through being addressed. That is, it was the act of emphasising the centrality of television’s role in the coronation, and in reinforcing the apparent distance between monarchy and (popular) media, that these ‘meanings’ of the coronation were constructed in the public and historical imaginary.