The Crown as Non-Fiction - Kantorowicz and Netflix

The Blog and The Podcast have been going well since their inception in November. Almost past 1,000 views, which is far more than I expected for my measly reading notes. Ever so thankful to all of those who follow and read my notes – indeed, I cannot thank you enough.  

I realised I had not updated my log of what I am reading at the moment, alongside a list of some of the books I received for Christmas. So here is what I am doing with my time this January – in no particular order:

·   Graham Harman (2018) Object Oriented Ontology: A New Theory of Everything, London: Pelican Books.

·   Giorgio Agamben (2015) Stasis: Civil War as a Political Paradigm, Redwood City, CA: Stanford University Press.

·   Paolo Virno (2008) Multitude: Between Innovation and Negation, Los Angeles, CA: Semiotext(e).

·       Slavoj Žižek (2020) Hegel in a Wired Brain, London: Bloomsbury.

·       Philip Cunliffe (2020) The New Twenty Years’ Crisis: A Critique of International Relations, 1999-2019, Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press.

·   Michael Sandel (2020) The Tyranny of Merit: What’s Become of The Common Good?, London: Allen Lane Publishing. Martin Wight (1977) Systems of States, Leicester: Leicester University Press.

I am currently watching Netflix’s ‘The Crown’ as I happen to be finishing Kantorowicz’s ‘The King’s Two Bodies’. Oddly, in the first few episodes of the first few seasons, it feels as though the lines spoken by Queen Mary of Teck could have come straight from Kantorowicz’s masterpiece. The emphasis of the death of the individual’s body at the hands of the emergence of the Sovereign’s body is frequently one of those posits that draws my mind back to Kantorowicz. However, there is one thing in particular that connects Netflix’s ‘The Crown’ and ‘The King’s Two Bodies’.

This is the notion of ‘The Crown as Fiction’. In Kantorowicz’s case, his section of the same name discusses the manner in which medieval glossators used the Roman law of inheritance—specifically the ‘fiction of Law’ that ensured the continuity of predecessor and successor—to elucidate the continuity of sempiternal authority.[1] In the case of the Netflix show, there has been much talk as to whether or not the programme is a record of historical events that are dramatized, or dramatic stories that have been historicized – especially as far as the relationship between The Queen and Diana is concerned. Perhaps there is a reconciliation here? Perhaps the very fictitiousness of ‘The Crown’ is a myth-making tool in an era where the Royal Family have experienced a rather great deal of internal fragmentation and ‘scandal’ – i.e., Prince Andrew’s relation to Jeffrey Epstein, alongside the negative press concerning Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Perhaps the very fictitious nature of ‘The Crown’ ensures the continuity of the quasi-theological condition of the British Monarchy in the contemporary era, as a relationship of quasi-mysticism through the ‘fiction’ of the Queen’s personal and professional life. Even in a psychoanalytic way, perhaps, ‘The Crown’ represents the unfulfilled wish of desire to know the royals, and in this way unify with them as a quasi-theological figure, except, interesting, via the body and life of the queen – of Elizabeth Windsor, and not – as has so often in the past been attempted on screen – the body and life of The Queen – of Elizabeth II Regina.

In this, the world of the fiction blends with the world of the non-fiction, but still short of ‘The Real’. Perhaps, thus, this is the ‘The Crown as NON-Fiction’.

[1] For more on this, Kantorowicz aside, see: Victoria Kahn (2009) ‘Political Theology and Fiction in The King’s Two Bodies’, Representations, 106 (1), pp. 77-101.,