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‘This is a tale of friendship, a story of togetherness’: The British Monarchy, Grenfell Tower, and Inequalities in The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

E-pub ahead of print
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>31/12/2020
<mark>Journal</mark>Cultural Studies
Publication StatusE-pub ahead of print
Early online date31/12/20
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Abstract

The fire at Grenfell Tower, a block of public housing flats in The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, London, in June 2017 has come to epitomize the growing divide between Britain’s rich and poor in the last decade. Yet, the proximity of Kensington Palace, home of many senior British royals, has been almost entirely ignored in scholarship and commentary on the Grenfell Tower atrocity. This is especially remarkable given the philanthropic ‘work’ the monarchy has undertaken since the fire’s aftermath. This paper explores Together: Our Community Cookbook (The Hubb Community Kitchen. 2018. Together: Our community cookbook. London: Ebury Press), a cookbook released by Meghan Markle as part of her royal charitable ‘duties’, to raise money for The Hubb Community Kitchen – a group of women displaced in the fire, who prepared meals for survivors in the aftermath. The cookbook repeatedly emphasizes unity, collectivity and togetherness: the importance of a local community response to rehabilitate Grenfell survivors. By analysing the cultural politics of Together through radical contextualization, this paper argues that in releasing the cookbook, the British monarchy itself is incorporated into this narrative of community and recovery, which erases the classed and racialised inequalities between the monarchy and Grenfell survivors (and, indeed, those in similar socioeconomic positions). Fundamentally, the cookbook obscures the ongoing culpability of ‘the elites’ for the sociopolitical and socioeconomic inequalities experienced by citizens in Britain. Together evidences how inequalities in contemporary Britain are normalized and legitimized in the public imaginary through media representations, obscuring the structural inequalities that underpinned the conditions at Grenfell, and instead individualizing the survivors as ‘responsiblised’ neoliberal subjects.