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New Left Review I/3, May-June 1960

Stephen Hatch

Religion of the Celebrity

the adulation of the monarchy is a fairly recent phenomenon. In 1830, at the death of George IV The Times wrote; “There never was an individual less regretted by his fellow creatures”. Queen Victoria was never as unpopular as that, but as the powers of the monarchy declined so the popular attention devoted to it also declined. Until the 1870’s. Then the great change began. With the rise of imperialism and the growth of a democratic instead of an aristocratic system of government the crown was lifted out of all controversy: it became an object of veneration instead of argument, the symbol of a rising tide of nationalist emotions which needed an outlet in pomp and pageantry. Hence the Jubilee celebrations of 1887 and 1897, which were the first expressions of the modern popular monarchy.

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Stephen Hatch, ‘Religion of the Celebrity’, NLR I/3: £3

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