An Occult Royal Wedding

Public State Ceremonies as Rituals of Civil Irreligion

Authors

  • Nicholas R. E. Toseland Durham University

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.1558/imre.37774

Keywords:

David Icke, civil religion, ritual, British royal family, occulture, conspiracy theory

Abstract

This article explores the contested nature of the meaning of state ceremonies, focussing on alternative accounts of the United Kingdom's 2011 Royal Wedding between William Windsor and Kate Middleton. Although state ceremonies are ostensibly secular affairs, utilizing religious symbolism for purely ceremonial reasons, there are those who think differently. David Icke perceives a hidden, satanic symbolism and deploys various interpretive strategies including the numerology of time, symbology of ceremonial objects, and genealogy of participants. Building on Bellah's concept of "civil religion," this article looks at competing expressivist and instrumentalist analyses alongside the interpretive strategies of Icke, and other 'truth-seeker' bloggers, for whom the Royal Wedding, alongside other state rituals, functions as a nefarious ritual of civil irreligion.

References

Aldridge, Alan. 2007. Religion in the Contemporary World. Cambridge: Polity.

Anderson, B. 2006. Imagined communities: reflections on the origin and spread of nationalism. London: Verso.

Anonymous. 2011. “Baphomet’s Head on Prince William’s RAF Uniform.” Fanatic for Jesus. 4 April. http://fanaticforjesus.blogspot.com/2011/04/baphomets-head-on-prince-williams-raf.html

Barkun, Michael. 2006 [2003]. A Culture of Conspiracy: Apocalyptic Visions in Contemporary America. California: University of California Press.

Bell, Catharine. 1992. Ritual Theory, Ritual Practice. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Bellah, Robert N. 1970 [1967]. Beyond Belief: Essays on Religion in a Post-Traditional World. New York: Harper and Row.

———. 1975 [1992]. The Broken Covenant: American Civil Religion in Time of Trial. London: University of Chicago Press.

———. 1976a. “Response to Panel on Civil Religion.” Sociological Analysis 37 (2): 155–159.

———. 1976b. “Comment on ‘Bellah and the New Orthodoxy.’” Sociological Analysis 37(2): 167–168. https://doi.org/10.2307/3709691

Bellah, Robert N. and Philip E. Hammond. 1980. Varieties of Civil Religion. New York: Harper & Row.

Bocock, R. 1974. Ritual in Industrial Society: A Sociological Analysis of Ritualism in Modern England. London: George Allen and Unwin.

Bocock, R. 1985. “Religion in Modern Britain.” In Religion and Ideology, by Robert Pocock and Kenneth Thompson, 207–233. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

Bonney, Norman. 2011. “The Sacred Kingdom and the Royal Wedding of 2011.” The Political Quarterly 82(4): 636–644. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-923X.2011.02234.x

Bourg, Carroll J. 1976. “A Symposium on Civil Religion.” Sociological Analysis 37(2): 141–149. https://doi.org/10.2307/3709687

Cannadine, D. 2012. “The Context, Performance and Meaning of Ritual: The British Monarchy and the ‘Invention of Tradition,’ 1820–1977.” In The Invention of Tradition, Canto Classics, edited by Hobsbawm, E. and T. Ranger, 101–164. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781107295636.004

Chaney, David. 1983. “A Symbolic Mirror of Ourselves: Civic Ritual in Mass Society.” Media, Culture and Society 5: 119–135. https://doi.org/10.1177/016344378300500202

Chaplin, Jonathan. 2011. “Religion, Royalty and the Media.” The Guardian. 1 May. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/belief/2011/may/01/christianity-royal-wedding

Chieri, Laura. 2016. “How important is the monarchy to British people?” ScotCen. 8 February. http://www.scotcen.org.uk/blog/how-important-is-the-monarchy-to-british-people

Durkheim, Emile. 2001 [1912]. Elementary Forms of Religious Life. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

English, Rebecca. 2011. “What’s in a ring? Palace confirms that Prince William will not wearing a wedding band when he marries Kate Middleton.” Daily Mail. 31 March. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1372078/Royal-wedding-Palace-confirms-Prince-William-wont-wear-ring-marries-Kate-Middleton.html

Evans-Pritchard, E. E. 1937. Withcraft, Oracles and Magic among the Azande. Oxford: Clarendon.

Fenn, Richard. 1976. “Bellah and The New Orthodoxy.” Sociological Analysis 37(2) 160–166. https://doi.org/10.2307/3709690

Gluckman, Max. 1962. “Les Rites de Passage.” In Essays on the Ritual of Social Relations, edited by Max Gluckman, 1–52. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

Hammond, Philip E. 1976. “The Sociology of American Civil Religion: A Bibliographic Essay.” Sociological Analysis 37(2) 169–182. https://doi.org/10.2307/3709692

Icke, D. 2012. Remember Who You Are. Ryde: David Icke.

———. 2013. The Perception Deception. Ryde: David Icke.

———. 2011. David Icke in Rome—the London-Rome Beltane Ritual. (Full Film). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=15sHCjO5lSw

Lane, Christel. 1981. The Rites of Rulers: Ritual in Industrial Society—the Soviet Case. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Lewis, Tyson and Richard Kahn. 2005. “The Reptoid Hypothesis: Utopian and Dystopian Representational Motifs in David Icke’s Alien Conspiracy Theory.” Utopian Studies 16(1): 45–74.

Lukes, S. 1975. “Political Integration and Social Integration.” Sociology 9(2): 289–308. https://doi.org/10.1177/003803857500900205

Molynieux, Byron. 2011. “Is Prince’s Wedding Ring Refusal a Satanic Sign?’” 3 April. https://www.henrymakow.com/williams_marriage_ring_rejecti_1.html

Otto, Rudolf. 1936 [1917]. Idea of the Holy. https://archive.org/stream/theideaoftheholy00ottouoft/theideaoftheholy00ottouoft_djvu.txt

Parsons, Gerard. 2002. Perspectives on Civil Religion. San Francisco: Open Library.

Partridge, C. 2005a. The Re-Enchantment of the West. Volume 1. London: T&T Clark.

———. 2005b. The Re-Enchantment of the West. Volume 2. London: T&T Clark.

———. 2012. “Occulture is Ordinary.” In Contemporary esotericism, edited by K Granholm & E Asprem, 113–133. Sheffield: Equinox.

Robertson, David G. 2013. “David Icke’s Reptilean Thesis and the Development of New Age Theodicy.” International Journal for the Study of New Religions 4(1): 24–47.

Rousseau, Jean-Jacques. 1923 [1761]. The Social Contract and Discourses. Translated by G.D. H. Cole. San Francisco: Open Library. https://oll.libertyfund.org/titles/rousseau-the-social-contract-and-discourses

Rowbottom, Anne. 1998. “‘The Real Royalists’: Folk Performance and Civil Religion at Royal Visits.” Folklore 109: 77–88. https://doi.org/10.1080/0015587X.1998.9715963

Shils, Edward and Michael Young. 1953. “The Meaning of the Coronation.” The Sociological Review 1(2): 63–81. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-954X.1953.tb00953.x

Wuthnow, Robert. 1988. The Restructuring of American Religion. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Ziegler, Phillip. 1978. Crown and People. New York: Knopf.

Published

2019-02-05

How to Cite

Toseland, N. R. E. (2019). An Occult Royal Wedding: Public State Ceremonies as Rituals of Civil Irreligion. Implicit Religion, 21(2), 165–179. https://doi.org/10.1558/imre.37774

Issue

Section

Articles