The King’s Bling Thing

I hadn’t meant to watch the Coronation, but a few minutes before 11 a.m. yesterday idly looked up what was happening when and realised that the ceremony in the Abbey was about to start. So I switched on the TV out of curiosity, and we all marked the hour or two of history that otherwise would have passed us by.

I’ve been a republican since the moment I gave it any serious thought, which was in first year Political Science at the age of eighteen. But I’ve also spent my life living under the Crown, so can’t pretend the royals don’t exist—and they’ve been existing increasingly noticeably in recent weeks.

The ceremony itself was fine, with some impressive music (plus Andrew Lloyd Webber) and as representative a range of Britain as you could expect in an event such as this, with Sikh headdresses and Asian and Black British people in view; no doubt the culture warriors will have been complaining about the Woke Coronation (I really can’t be bothered finding out). Women also played more of a role than they did seventy years ago, not counting the woman who was at the centre of it back then—notably Penny Mordaunt, bearing a sword like some modern Lady of the Lake, although as wags on Twitter have pointed out, her outfit was more Poundland than Pondmaiden. As a recent Tory leadership contender her politics are appalling, but it’s amusing to know that she was playing a role that Jacob Rees-Mogg would have if only Boris Johnson hadn’t eaten the wrong slice of birthday cake.

Charles himself looked at times moved and at times worried:

Coronation time! Look at the bling / On display as we get a new King. / Watching Charlie get crowned, / Count the times that he’s frowned - / Is he happy about the whole thing?

There were some odd moments in the parade of royal bling, too, like the defiantly gesturing ring-holder:

Coronation ring-holder, 6 May 2023

Good to see republicanism being represented in the ceremony, I suppose.

Outside, though, republicans—and Just Stop Oil protesters—were being arrested, with the police using draconian new powers that came into law only last week which are nothing short of the old Not the Nine O’Clock News sketch about a copper arresting someone for “looking at me in a funny way”.

It was a perfect reminder of everything the Coronation is distracting us from. In the past twelve months, the Tories have trashed the pound, hiked interest rates to unaffordable levels for many, overseen rampant inflation, let power companies take enormous profits for no good reason, rejected long overdue public service payrises, removed the right to protest, removed the right to claim asylum, removed protections against discrimination for trans people, and disenfranchised hundreds if not thousands of voters over spurious claims of a voting fraud problem by requiring specific, non-universal forms of ID at polling booths. At least the last seems to have backfired, given their absolute drubbing in the English council elections on Thursday; but who knows where we’ll be by the next general election. It’s hard to have any confidence, either, that Keir Starmer will reverse the worst of these erosions of our rights if he becomes the next prime minister. He’s already rejected the idea of replacing first-past-the-post, which is the rot at the heart of so much that’s gone wrong in the past 10–15 years.

Still, cheer up, eh? Three cheers for the King and his Coronation, or else. It didn’t rain the whole day.

7 May 2023 · Events