The King is the Land and the Land is the King

Geeze o flip, do we love the royalty or what?

For you it might be the royal wedding. But for me it's the somewhat awesome notion that the fate of the world is bound up in the health and success of human individuals. Clearly I read a lot of messed up stuff as a kid, but here are some of my favorite permutations:

  • True and fictionalized traditions where an individual is picked to be "king" for a single year, or where kings must stay healthy to stay king.
  • True and fictionalized traditions where certain saints are believed to keep the world intact with their prayers.
  • Conspiracy theories and literature about secret kings and kingdoms that represent the true cause of our current world (for example, did you know that as soon as the cameras were turned off, astronauts raised the Union Jack on the moon!?! True story.)

There's just this huge undercurrent of regiphilia in our culture, and maybe in all cultures. It's fun to play with, but it's worth keeping in mind that this is probably just the memetic residue of millennia of propaganda and power politics.

It was really helpful to the kings if their subjects believed in divine right, of course. And if the kings actually seemed supernatural or genetically blessed, the reality is that they were probably just well fed compared to everyone else, as Doctor Science reminds us:

When only a few people are clean and wear nice clothes, always get enough to eat and never have to go without sleep or warmth, they *will* look comparatively gorgeous, and they are likely to be -- or seem to be -- stronger, smarter, and taller than the ordinary run of folk.
It twists my Tolkien-soaked brain to try to think of the families in Game of Thrones as being no more exceptional than the Windsors, but I think it's a useful exercise. When I think about people born into royalty in the past or in fiction, it's hard for me to get away from the habit, the mental rut, of thinking of them as naturally exceptional people -- when all they really were was well-nourished.
from the incomparable Married to the Sea


  1. Keep it up. You've managed to keep the beards below the fold for a bit!

  2. Don't taunt him! You'll get us drowned in beards.

  3. You guys are so quaint with that vestigial 'below the fold' stuff. I thought I was 20th Century Man.

  4. We now need to find an example, true or fictional, of a king whose power resides, in some way, in his beard.


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