The Queen’s Two Bodies

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Dr Kandida Purnell, Assistant Professor of International Relations at Richmond American University London, has written a blog post on a highly topical subject and one of her research specialisms– the body politic.

The blog, which is entitled, ‘The Queen’s Two Bodies: Why metaphors matter – especially in a time of monarchical mourning’, focuses on the significance of the death of Queen Elizabeth II and accession of King Charles III in relation to the ‘body politic’.

Dr Purnell explains, “This post is about the significance of this time of transition and the strange yet strategic legal-theological history and traditions giving the UK’s monarch two bodies and breathing life into the still commonly deployed metaphorical ‘body politic’.  This is a core research and teaching interest of mine.”

The blog explains:

“From the ‘head of state’, to the ‘public eye’, to the ‘arm’ in army and the ‘footmen’ who comprise it, as a metaphor, the body politic is a rhetorical device used to make political communities knowable as a human body. In these ways, the thinking and practice of politics is profoundly embodied and embodies political communities through metaphoricity: the power of metaphor. As such, political speech is frequently littered with body parts.”

This topic comes alive at Richmond as Dr Purnell asks her students what kind of body our contemporary politic(s) needs and to map out the contemporary body politic for themselves.

“In recent years they have responded by explaining impressively detailed diagrams of increasingly grotesque and severely disabled bodies – struggling to breathe, blind,  or with protruding cancerous growths.”