“We” Explain the Majestic Plural to “Us”
Although not often used these days, the “Royal We” (AKA the “Majestic Plural”) is a term that describes the use of “we” in place of “I.”
Or, more technically, the majestic plural refers to the use of plural pronouns such as “we” (the Royal We), “us,” or “our” in place of singular pronouns such as “I,” “me,” or “mine.”
This manner of speech is generally not used anymore in this age of liberal, democratic, and republican governments of the people (where having royalty speak for you, or on behalf of themselves and God, is no longer in vogue). However, it is still be used some formal documents bearing the name of those holding high offices (like a Queen, King, or Pope).
What Does the Royal We Mean?
The exact meaning of the “Royal We” and other “Majestic Plurals” can be understood in a few different ways. For example, some claim it implies:
- A leader speaking on behalf of the people of which they are Sovereign (the most likely explanation).
- A leader speaking on behalf of themselves and God (for example, a King who believes their ‘Divine Right’ to rule comes from God).
- A leader speaking on behalf of them and their “Court.”
ORIGIN OF THE ROYAL WE: The usage of the term is thought to originate in England in the 12th century, but its exact roots are murky at best. With this in mind, the story goes: William de Longchamp, acting as chancellor to England’s King Henry II, replaced the first person singulars used in documents drafted in the King’s name sometime around 1181 and 1189 (where it was either referring to the Divine Right of Kings or the King as speaking on behalf of the people).
FACT… or MYTH? “We are not amused” is a phrase commonly attributed to Queen Victoria. With that said, it is likely she never actually said this… which, we find amusing.
Queen Elizabeth Speech – Bellevue Live Feed 2015. These days when the Queen says “we” she means it like the rest of us.
What? I thought it was the chamberpot for the monarch!