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Keep calm and carry on: the wheels of state keep turning

11 Sep 2022 4 minute read
King Charles III delivers an address to the nation. Picture by Yui Mok / PA Wire

Ben Wildsmith

There’s a great deal you can’t do today. You can’t go to the football, the boxing, or the racing. You can go to the rugby in England, but not here in Wales. Cricket is acceptable everywhere.

In jarring contrast to the start of the last Carolean era, a diktat from Marston’s has outlawed music and dancing in Brains pubs for the next week.

Christmas is, at time of publication, still scheduled to go ahead, fuel supplies permitting.

You may, if you wish, while away your weekend on social media, but I don’t recommend it. Anything you post is prone to be condemned by a temporarily insane friend or relative.

‘Here’s a picture of the lovely sweet potato curry my wife made this evening.’

‘Disgusting that you can think of eating at this difficult time. Shame on you.’- RoyalBlue1956

‘Sweet potatoes have no place in a curry. Hugely emblematic of the casual racism that infects this imperialist hellhole. Shame on you.’- SilentDisco2003

Etc. etc. etc.

Those who are keen to observe correct etiquette will be glued to the BBC, watching the labyrinthine workings of constitutional upheaval.

‘At 12.15pm precisely, the Master of the Royal Guineafowl will unfurl the imperial bedspread in a tradition that traces back to Ethelred the Unhinged in 1013. Here’s Giles Brandreth to explain what to expect.’

My personal all-time favourite royal moment was when our new king allowed the microphones at Klosters to pick him up dissing Nicholas Witchell.

Royal experts

At a time when the nation seems to be divided on every conceivable issue surely all of us, the rich man in his castle, the poor man at his gate, can coalesce around a healthy contempt for ‘royal experts’.

These shameless grifters are knocking out copy for the Mail and Express at such a rate that a cynic might suspect they had much of it written in advance.

Your Majesty, you now have a tower with Beefeaters and ravens at your disposal, do us all a favour and put it to use.

You see, then, that the mad and the bad in the UK are not at a loss as to what to do this weekend. From those engaged in performative mourning/disrespect to others who are exploiting the situation professionally, the outliers of society are having a busy time.

The vast majority of us, I’ll suggest, feel some degree of sadness on a personal level and a deal of discomfort at the confusion about what is appropriate behaviour.

Prince of Wales

Take Adam Price, for example. For a little while on Thursday and Friday there was no Prince of Wales. There’s no constitutional requirement for there to be one and Charles III didn’t receive the title until long after his mother’s accession.

The Duke of Cambridge, however, has already been installed.

‘There will be time, in due course, for a public debate surrounding the title of the Prince of Wales.’ Price tweeted in response to the decision.

But there won’t, will there, butt? While you were stood at the buffet wondering if it was impolite to have a vol au vent, the hog roast has been chopped up and devoured.

And this is the genius of the British state. At the very point when change seems appropriate, or even necessary, the machine appears in human form and demands common decency from us. Even as the wheels continue to turn, it appeals to our humanity and begs for silence.

There are babies a week old who have lived through two premierships and two reigns. These are extremely precarious times for the UK and its nations.

Saying and doing nothing might seem a safe option, but we do so at the risk of being spoken for against our interests.

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Hogyn y Gogledd
Hogyn y Gogledd
1 year ago

“There are babies a week old who have lived through two premierships and two reigns.”

A new head of government and a new head of state, and no election for either.

So much for democracy.

Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
1 year ago

Absolutely perfect and what a joy to read but it’s not too late to stop the continuation of the Prince of Wales title. Charlie may have got in first before we could even start the ever growing petition and there will be future debate and outrage. I was tempted to stand back and be respectful but when the new King himself and the likes of Andrew Neil are setting the example of how to go on, we must stand forward again and speak up without fear of criticism having been shown the way ahead by the aforementioned.

David Smith
David Smith
1 year ago

The irony is that in banning mirth and merriment, they’re acting just like the Cromwellian Puritans who lopped the head off the first of Chuck’s predecessor-namesakes!

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