Notes on a Coronation
I don’t recall the exact year, but I think it may have been around the time that Big Pit, the mine where my grandfather Gordon Gait worked the washeries, was opened to the public as a mining museum.
Whatever the date, the talk in Pontnewynydd, on the main road from Blaenafon to Newport and the M4 was that Charles, Prince of Wales would be driving through our little village, on his way back from some engagement further up the valley.
They started selling little plastic Welsh flags in local shops, and our mums made sure we had one to wave at his Royal Highness as he drove past.
Groveside Villas looks directly down onto the road, so when the day came we were ready and waiting. Perhaps he would stop, get out of his limousine and give us all a wave to show his appreciation to the adoring crowds.
When the time came the road was more or less cut off to regular traffic, as it might be for the Pontypool Marathon, and the motorcade zipped past at 40 mph, our plastic flags rustling in the aftermath.
The next time I came close to being in the presence of Charles, Prince of Wales, was when he attended an event at St David’s Hall, and I had to walk around his car to get across the Hayes.
More recently I was in the crowd outside the castle which went on to boo him as he made his first visit to our city as King Charles III.
The Coronation of King Charles III is a fascinating spectacle, especially for those of us who read Barthes and Baudrillard as students, a bizarre post-modern parody of a national event, as remote from the lives of Charles’s subjects as an episode of Downton Abbey.
Witness the recent closure of Cardiff Castle, bequeathed to the people of Cardiff by people of wealth and privilege who used it for the greater good, so that people in Cardiff can watch a 74-year-old man get dabbed with oil by the Archbishop of Canterbury on a big screen.
Meanwhile, our local Tesco is selling plastic Union Jack Bowler Hats, while Sainsbury’s have a display of eyeless cardboard cut-out masks of King Charles and Queen Camilla.
You can’t move in our capital city without seeing cheaply reproduced Union Jacks on the same rickety stalls which sell football scarves on an international day, and every supermarket and fast food outlet from one end of Queen Street is peddling Royal this and coronation that, and if I’ve heard ‘Zadok the Priest’ on the radio once, I’ve heard it a thousand times.
In 1953 my grandparents’ generation rented televisions so that they could watch the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. In the post-war world a young Queen represented hope for the future, and she remained a potent symbol of that ethos throughout her record-breaking reign, often regardless of who was in power, or what the country’s fortunes were.
Almost exactly 70 years later her son inherits the throne at a time when the sheen of the monarchy is wearing thin, revealing the dull grey base metal beneath its golden veneer, with support for it dwindling rapidly among younger people.
Indeed, I imagine the vast majority of Charles’s subjects will find the obligatory pomp of this arcane ritual utterly incomprehensible, not to mention mindlessly crass at a time when so many of them are struggling to get by.
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Why is it that the cost of the coronation has risen to £250m far exceeding that of his mother and grandfather? Especially when they have chopped down the length of the event and reduced the number of guests.
Surely we should have the Homage of Peers so we can see the nobility in robes and coronets and the King embodying the apex of the hierarchy of feudal privilege?
It’s risen as we live in a profiteering country – where everyone is jumping on the bandwagon. I suspect a simple union jack bunting along the Mall probably cost twice as much, if not more, than usual. If old Charlie was paying for it himself I bet the cost of everything would end up being half the price. Whoever paid – It’s all such a waste of money in tight times like this.
I’m nearly 60 years old and my support for it began dwindling when I was 13 in 1977. That was when the grey brick tower near Taffs Well on the A470 was vandalised having had the words ‘Silver Jubilee’ etched into it (further defaced in 2002 with a cheap can’t be bothered version of ‘Golden Jubilee’.) It stands there sneering at us ever since. It should all be removed.
I live near Caerffili and am frankly surprised at how little visible support there is around. I can’t say what each household is feeling but there is little in the way of flags and bunting. Yesterday I drove through the Bristol suburbs, expecting to see an extensive show of support, but to my suprise again there was almost nothing. This must mean something.
Went out yesterday to deliver Yes Cymru fliers encouraging people to attend the Swansea independence rally. Had 350 leaflets, only three households had bunting etc to mark the coronation. Suggests ordinary people are not interested or can’t be bothered.
Spoke with a woman in one of my local shops earlier who said that she’d been told by their boss that they had to put Union Jacks up today because “that’s what people will expect”. I said “no they won’t”. She agreed, but shrugged her shoulders in despair.
It’s a pity that he doesn’t care as much for the struggling people who are paying for all this nonsense as he does for trees and plants.
I think some of you may like this:
No – I’m not responsible, but it might be the hand of Glyn Dŵr, moonlighting as a translator …
Not Google Translate, funnily enough. So we well have ‘a rebel’ on our hands.
F**k the monarchy
Our daughter was a staunch loyalist to HM Queen Elizabeth but can’t be bothered with the subsequent generations. She cannot comprehend how a pair of adulterers can b e anointed as head of the C of E and monarchs when they lack the moral fibre to do the job.
Me? Shoot the lot and share out the proceeds of theft.
The ideology of the Monarchy and establishment. If you want to stay in the lifestyle you’ve become accustomed to. Get them young. Grooming is their favoured methodology. Brainwash from an early age. Putty in your hands.